Finding and Founding Symmetry: Communications Pro Ben Borne Creates a Career with Balance
His path to a communications career started when Ben Borne made home movies with a camcorder as a child, revelling in storytelling. In high school he took a program called Media School, spending a semester in grade 11 learning how to produce videos and television and make movies, shooting and editing footage himself. He also joined the yearbook committee and learned how to shoot and edit photos using Adobe software from YouTube tutorials. “It was because I self-taught myself those skills, with a mix of communications courses that I took that I was able to get my first job,” he remembers. He’s come a long way from there.
Borne is a member of Yellow Quill First Nation and a descendent of a 60s Scoop Survivor. He grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and was raised in a white settler family. These days he works as a communications consultant in his own company called Symmetry PR that's based in Saskatoon. He is also a managing partner at Eagle Feather News and teaches Communications at First Nations University of Canada.
After graduating from high school in Saskatoon in 2008, Borne got his undergraduate degree with a minor in communications at university in Winnipeg. He returned to Saskatoon to work with the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority as a communications officer, sparking his love of his field. Borne levelled up his skills with a diploma in Public Relations at the University of Victoria, craving more learning opportunities to grow as a communicator. He is also certified as a Communication Management Professional, a global standard for communicators.
From there, he worked in social media and email marketing with the Gaming Authority, then left to be Director of Strategy at a tech company called Salon Scale. He worked on business strategy and planning, overseeing finance, HR and marketing communications until he lost his job due to the pandemic. Bored at home, Borne decided to start a business with his former boss at the Gaming Authority. Three years later, the business is going strong and he’s going back to get his master’s degree.
His advice for students leaving home for work and school is empathetic. “Leaving home is a really, really tough thing. But eventually, if you start taking time to get to know the people around you and build community and build some really solid relationships with like your classmates and your dorm mates and find your people, that makes adjusting and connecting a lot better than just being on your own,” he shares, reflecting on his own experience of leaving for university at 19 and feeling homesick living in the dorms on campus.
He also struggled with gruelling summer jobs, both working them and finding them, but the university’s career services department helped him with his job hunts. Finding a supportive employer after graduation was also a challenge, but the Gaming Authority was a really nurturing place to land. Leaving secure employment at an organization he’d outgrown was a mental obstacle.
Another obstacle he faced was managing chronic illness after being diagnosed with epilepsy. Borne sees a therapist to help manage the stress and process overwhelming feelings. He’s also learned to get around town by bike, bus and on foot since he can’t drive anymore.
“You learn to transform those obstacles and opportunities. How can I adapt my environment around me to make this work for me?”
Growing up in a chaotic home environment, Borne was anxious and unsettled. If he could give his 10-12-year-old self a message it would be “Everything's gonna work out. You just need to chill, bro. But also, don't forget you have a really good community, you have really good friends and you're 100% worthy of love and belonging.”
The message he needed in his late teens and early twenties was different; he would say, “Just give yourself permission to explore to be curious about your interests. pay attention to what you're good at, pay attention to your passions and your hobbies, and lean into that, and you might be extremely successful.” Borne remembers how he excelled in English, communications, technology and writing but struggled in science, math and music theory, though he really wanted to be a musician.
“Take time to nurture your spirit and connect with your environment.”
Outside of work and school, to maintain his wellness, Borne prioritizes rest, eats healthy and surrounds himself with a healthy community. He maintains strong boundaries, gets help from friends when he needs it and consumes a lot of self-help material to learn about emotional health. He also has fun spending time in nature, practicing mindfulness and spirituality.
When he needs inspiration, he looks to icons and changemakers, by people in his community who give back, his friends, the books he reads and people doing cool things in the world. Entrepreneurs inspire him, particularly entrepreneurs in his industry, and the opportunity to learn from their processes, mistakes and methodologies.
He wants Indigenous youth to know that when you’re growing up, there will be challenges, discomfort and things can be discouraging. “Lean into the discomfort, embrace how sucky the situation is sometimes because often the reward is extremely great. Don't shy away from obstacles, turn them into opportunity,” he urges.
What started off as home movies produced on a camcorder turned into a thriving business brought to life during a pandemic. From hobbies to high school, from youtube tutorials to post-secondary studies, he learned every way he could to develop his skills. Ben Borne has come a long way, moving from student to teacher, and yearbook committee member to managing partner in news media, and from employee to entrepreneur. He’s turned obstacles into bridges and passion into profit as a skilled communicator and life-long learner in his field.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article
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Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.