Nova Browning Rutherford
Country of Origin:
Black History/African Heritage, Racism/Discrimination, Identity & Heritage, Multiculturalism & Diversity
Nova Browning Rutherford is a personal development coach and speaker who has connected with North American audiences by reminding people that they can transform pain into progress. Her intention is for individuals in limbo to break the "victim mentality" cycle and tap into the qualities that propelled them out of hard times in the past. A survivor of depression, abuse, addiction, and assault, Nova’s sincerity and humour are refreshing to audiences looking to be inspired. Her career in Hollywood provides nuance to her programming, as she uses pop culture references to warn of the trappings of material wealth and fame. Through her powerful storytelling, visual presentations and lively discussions, Nova inspires a generation to rise above their own personal challenges.
"What are you?" I'm asked that a lot.
The standard answer: I'm Canadian.
My mom is white. Scottish/Ukrainian background. Her father's grandparents settled in Saskatchewan from the Ukraine, like many, at the turn of the 20th century. Her mother's parents, a soldier from Aberdeen, Scotland and a nurse from England, met in WW1 and immigrated to Canada.
My dad is Black Canadian, meaning, the people who escaped slavery in the U.S, and came to Canada via the Underground Railroad. Those courageous survivors are my people. 8 generations.
Still don't know "what" I am?
Being a woman of colour, with no West Indian, African or African-American heritage in a country where cultural pride means everything can be hard to explain.
My deep Canadian roots leave me with no other country to claim, food to eat, or native tongue. I am whatever people think I am - positive and negative projections included - which has meant a life long struggle with identity.
Mixed race people and couples are common today, but it is not something I grew up seeing in London, ON. I was 10 years old the first time I saw someone who looked like me. It was Mariah Carey.
Being different made me focus on common denominators I shared with others. I made an effort to SEE the person, rather than attempt to put them in a box and judge accordingly.
Music was the common thread with everyone and that passion propelled me into a life in the entertainment business, all the way to Hollywood. Living in America, culture was no longer the issue; instead, it was race. Growing up, my white friends said "you're Black" and my Black friends would say, "well, you're not really Black". How would I explain myself?
Existing in this "neither-space" has prompted me to cling to what I know and hold dear. One side of my family escaped the shackles of poverty, the other, the shackles of slavery. As different as they are, both chose to call this incredible country home.
I am a proud, mixed-race woman who answers the endless 'what are you' question with certainty and peace in my heart.
"I am Canadian."