Can You Hear Me Now?
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2021 SHAUGHNESSY COHEN PRIZE FOR POLITICAL WRITING
In Can You Hear Me Now?, Celina Caesar-Chavannes digs deep into her childhood and her life as a young Black woman entrepreneur and politician, and shows us that effective and humane leaders grow as much from their mistakes and vulnerabilities as from their strengths.
Celina Caesar-Chavannes, already a breaker of boundaries as a Black woman in business, got into politics because she wanted to make a bigger difference in the world. But when she became the first Black person elected to represent the federal riding of Whitby, Ontario, she hadn’t really thought about the fact that Ottawa wasn’t designed for someone like her. Celina soon found herself both making waves and breaking down, confronting at night, alone in her Ottawa apartment, all the painful beauty of her childhood and her troubled early adult life. She paid the price for speaking out about micro-aggressions and speaking up for her community and her riding, but she also felt exhilaration and empowerment. As she writes, “This is not your typical leadership book where the person is placed in a situation and miraculously comes up with the right response for the wicked problem. This is the story of me falling in love, at last, with who I am, and finding my voice in the unlikeliest of places.”
Both memoir and leadership book, Can You Hear Me Now? is a funny, self-aware, poignant, confessional and fierce look at how failing badly and screwing things up completely are truly more powerful lessons in how to conduct a life than extraordinary success. They build an utter honesty with yourself and others that allows you to say things nobody else dares to say–the necessary things about navigating the places that weren’t built for you and holding firm to your principles. And, if you do that, you will help build a world where inclusion is real. Just as Celina is now trying to do, in all her brilliance and boldness.