the gift of witnessing

On Monday, April 22, I had the immense pleasure of facilitating once again my absolute favourite event of the year! Every year, my high school girls program (run through the South Asian Women’s Community Centre), organizes an annual poetry and arts showcase. This year, they hosted their third showcase, titled EUPHORIA, on a sunny spring afternoon at the Pine Collective loft. A zine, also titled Euphoria, was available for purchase, and consisted of all original content by the young artists, including poetry, photography and digital art.

I am always awestruck by everyone who participates in our Open Mic, and this year was no different. Experiences on identity, reclaiming history and living in diaspora were expressed through different words and verses, and helped set an atmosphere of intimacy and raw emotion for the event.

The main line-up consisted of the young girls themselves. Poetry by the girls touched on topics such as mental health, struggle and despair, resilience, identity and love. During intermission, the audience was invited to take a look at their paintings, photography, and digital art in the gallery section of the event.

This year’s showcase was very special for me because the girls who organized the event have been part of my program for three years, and this year they will be graduating high school. That’s three years of getting to know and supporting fellow girls, venting about injustice and oppression, striving to promote social justice, and creating art about what matters to each of them.

Their journeys do not end with me, of course. This is one of their beginnings. I believe in these girls, not because it is their burden to make the world a better place, but because their mere existence is resistance. Their wisdom and continued dedication to learning is valuable social justice labour. And their courage to be the best that they can be even when it is uncomfortable or difficult is my faith in the future.

I am both honored and grateful that I got the chance to witness at least a part of their journey. I have no doubts these girls will continue to look oppression in the eyes and tell it to get out the way.

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