Talking respect with Monica Munroe (Custodian)

- September 29, 2016

Monica Munroe (Carter Hutton photo)
Monica Munroe (Carter Hutton photo)

September 26-30 is Respect Week at Dalhousie, and all week we'll be publishing Q&As with just some of the individuals across the university who are working to make our community more safe and inclusive while also building a sense of pride. Learn more about Respect Week.

Name: Monica Munroe    

Toronto, Ontario

What do you do at Dal: Custodian on Studley Campus, (SUB, Weldon Law, LeMarchant St. houses)  

What does safety mean to you and your community?
There is a lot of people on campus and a lot of “heavy” work. I have felt included in keeping myself safe at work through WORKSafe, where we worked with the School of Occupational Therapy and they taught be how to bend and lift properly and do my work safely without hurting myself. When we have had to clean up floods like one in the Killam we get the proper safety gear and shoes. They take good care of us.

Describe your department and how it helps support respect on campus.
I call us the “FMF” – the Facilities Management Family. In the 12 years I’ve been here we have been on a journey to work so much closer together. We are all here for the students, and when they know we care about keeping their home in the best possible condition they work hard to clean up their mess before we get there. My department has given me so many opportunities to get involved and see the big picture. I’ve been on the negotiating committee, the flex time committee, the uniform committee, the ball team, the wellness committee and worked on our United Way campaign. I’ve had a lot of opportunities see the other side and understand how decisions are made, and I’ve learned so much that I can pass on to my children. My supervisors are very supportive and they give me the opportunity to take ownership of my work and form relationships needed to succeed.

What value does an event like Respect Week have for you? Why do you think it’s important for Dalhousie?
No one is born prejudiced. I love seeing the students and everyone in the Dal community come together for the big Respect Week events and see everyone wearing their pink shirts and pink buttons. These students are our future. I don’t see the divide I see in other parts of the city here on campus. I come from a biracial background, so I don’t see colour, I see people. We need to accept everyone from the heart. If I see someone sad, or upset, I take time to ask them how they are and if I can help and listen to them when they need a friend. I try and be patient with people who are learning English, and take the time to listen to them. We need to keep growing and learning, and we can’t be stuck. We have to get involved and leave hate in the past and think about the promise of tomorrow. Tomorrow is our future. You have a choice of how to be.

What it something about the Dalhousie community that makes you feel proud, safe, and/or included?
Our clients, and the community, have so much respect for us in our blue uniforms. They say thank you and slip cards under the door, and appreciate us because they see the hard work that we do. They take such good care of us that in the December holidays they make me cry. When I worked in the residences I would help them, mainly the young men, sort their laundry so their socks and underwear wouldn’t stain blue. One day I came in and someone had written some racial graffiti and there they were trying to get rid of it to protect me from seeing it. I’m so proud to work at Dalhousie, and I see the pride the students have when they wear Dalhousie t-shirts all over the city when I’m walking home. I’ve heard them call it Canada’s Harvard.

More Respect Week profiles


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