Stories of Hope

My most recent projects was about Stories of Hope. We were answering the following driving question:

What lessons and inspirations can we draw from the stories of individuals and communities that have faced tragedy and overcome adversity?

In this project, the goal was to dive deep into the values and belief systems that shape the structures of power and authority in our culture. From there, we come to a conclusion about how the stories of tragedy and overcoming adversity both inspire and teach us.

I have chosen three different stories which you can find in my video here.

My first story is inspired by my own family. This is fortunately not a story of a tragedy, but it is a story of adversity. I came to Canada with my parents 12 years ago and from my perspective as a child it was an easy and smooth process. When talking to my mom about her experience, I was surprised that her experience was different from what I remember. Even though the adversity she had to overcome seems minimal or little for someone who did not experience moving to a new country, leaving the social network you’re familiar with, the systems you know, and the language you grew up with can be very hard. I should never minimize the experience of new immigrants. Statistics Canada research shows that almost 50% of respondents name finding an adequate job as the number one issue, followed by learning new language (27%). The feeling of loneliness, a feeling of isolation, counting every dollar, and being worried at the end of the month that it will not be enough. Those obstacles may be too large to navigate for some, and some will not be successful in navigating them. What I have learned from my mom’s story is that even though immigrating to Canada may seem easy, that’s usually not the case. I also learned to be more empathetic to the needs of others. My mom’s story increased my desire to be the welcoming face to those new to this country. I have learned that what seems easy from the outside may not feel the same on the inside. I have understood that it is not only about making immigration easy for those who want to come to Canada, but this is also important once the immigrants are in Canada to allow them to work in their field of experience, to make sufficient salary so that they can cover their cost, to support them with information and language resources.

My second story is a story about violence against women displayed on the example of Rumana Monzur. Rumana experienced an unbelievable act of violence from the hand of her ex-husband just because she was successful and she didn’t want to live in an abusive relationship. You can learn more by watching my video. I learned a lot about abuse from researching for this part of this video.

I found inspiration for my third story when walking the streets of Vancouver. I was asking myself: What is the story behind those we see in downtown Eastside, on East Hastings and Pender? Have those, who live on the outskirts of our society have hope, do they have a future? I was looking for a beacon of light and in my research I found Guy Felicella. Guy started using at the age of 12 driven by abuse and trauma he experienced, He died and was relived six times. How can person like this experience hope? Guy, with the compassion of people around him, step by step, start working towards his goal, to feel better, to stop living on the street, to find a better life. Now he is an inspirational speaker who talks to high school students about his experience, he is also working a as a peer support and outreach worker providing inspiration for those who need it. Beside that, he is a mental health advocate, and advocate for clean and safe consumption sites. He is a father, he’s a husband, he’s a fighter. His story brings a name to the anonymous faces of East Hastings. He also shows us the power of those around the people, especially those who are in need. I also came to realize just how deep this issue is within Canada. Addiction in Vancouver and in all of Canada is not just a drugs issue. It is also an indigenous issue.

When I went to the downtown east side to talk to people and to get some footage for my video, I talked to some people who told me their stories and I got to understand how they ended up where they are today. I learned how without a community or a family people have a tendency to be worse off no matter how good they are as people. This is inherently human. People learn from and depend on one another for all kinds of things. When these bonds of family and community are broken, then the people are much more likely to turn to drugs and have struggles. This is also why addiction within Vancouver and all of Canada is not just an issue of addiction, but also an indigenous issue.

From very early on, throughout Canadian history, settlers and colonizing Europeans did not treat the indigenous Canadians with the respect they deserved, forcing them into ever smaller parcels of land and erasing their culture and history. It was until very recently that one of the most destructive policies of the Canadian government, the ethnocide of indigenous Canadians by the Canadian government and related institutions was brought to an end. Policies within this such as Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act (1867 and 1982), the Indian Act (which has mostly been changed to be less racist) and policies such as residential schools and the sixties scoop (and others although the sixties scoop was the most famous) have torn indigenous families apart and destroyed indigenous communities. Those that were lucky saw their families again or were raised warmly, but many were not as lucky, and some of these people were unlucky enough to start with drugs.

In recent years, the government of Canada has taken action to address both addiction and indigenous issues with more compassion, providing more resources for those addicted to drugs and for indigenous Canadians with the truth and reconciliation commission and the 94 calls to action, of which only 13 have been completed.

We can solve both issues with stronger communities and a stronger, more accepting nation which gives to those in need so that every Canadian can have a brighter future.

While each of my stories is different, They show the diversity of every day struggles, give inspiration, and most of all, they give hope.

Thank you for reading.

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