2016: Giving Help, Asking for Help

By Holly (mentor)

Recently we had two special guests come in, Rachel and Joan who talked about accessibility, disability and mental health. During that session, a question came up. “How do you help a person with a disability? Do you help them or do you not?” Somehow that question triggered a conversation I had with a friend. Awhile back, my friend went through a tough phase in his life, unfortunately dealing with a loss. He explained to me how he got help and what he had to do in order to get through everything, but I wasn’t sure what to say back. I wasn’t sure if I should comfort him or not. Would it bring back the painful memories that were only a month old? I didn’t know how to show and explain that I’d always be there for him. In the end, I ended up just asking if he was okay.

In the workshop, we came to the conclusion that if a person with a disability asks us for help, then we would help them. Otherwise, we shouldn’t because it might make them think we believe they’re incapable of the job. For example, if it the traffic light was about the turn red and there was a person in a wheelchair crossing the street, maybe then I’d ask if they need help. Otherwise, unless they ask for assistance, I shouldn’t.

For my friend’s sake, I think I should’ve mentioned that I would always be there, if he ever wanted to talk again and that it would be no problem (I did later on). As my friend had already come to me as someone to talk to, I think giving some encouragement would be good too, about how talking to someone, asking for advice or help isn’t a bad thing.

VBG End of the Year Party, Dec. 18 2015

Workshop with Kim Milan, Dec. 2015

There are no words!!!

Thank you to Kim and Tiq Milan for coming and inspiring us through different forms of media, discussion, and an amazing talk about how much we matter. Thank you to Fonna for organizing and making this workshop happen! Thank you to Kiana Brown for the amazing visual document of the session! THANKS!!!!

Brunch with Project Slut, Nov. 2015

By Jean Boampong

Photo descriptions [photo 1, largest on the left: group of young people in front of Starving Artist Restaurant; photo 2, top right corner: a picture of a hand holding a fork with waffles, eggs benny, salad, and a glass of water to the left of the plate; photo 3, bottom right corner: a picture of 10 young people seated at a long table with food, plates, and drinks on it, facing each other]

In late November, the Village Bloggurls (VBG) went out early Saturday afternoon to meet up Erin and Kerin of Project Slut, a group of three young folks that challenged their school’s discriminatory dress code, won, and are now spreading awareness about shaming, bullying, and self-expression. I met them a couple of months ago at an event about rape culture in Canada and beyond, and I knew that it would interest VBG as we’ve talked a lot about different aspects of rape culture over the past few weeks. So I invited them out to lunch!

We were the biggest group there, yet it was hard to hear ourselves speak. Both Erin and Kerin spoke about their roles in Project Slut, what they plan to do, what they are doing now, and what that means for people of many genders across the country. We asked them questions like, “how did you keep going?” and “was it scary?” because they pushed through and fought their dress code for about 3 years. It takes a lot of strength and belief to keep going while facing such a policy and going to school. And as a young person speaking to older adults, it can be intimidating to claim expertise on something that is deeply affecting you if you don’t “say it right” and don’t have all the answers.

They told us about their work now, and how they are putting on workshops and trainings for TDSB staff members and teachers to understand the importance of being able to express yourself and not be confined to discriminatory practices. They even want to do a sort of documentary/documentary-style video of their journey to where they are now. VBG is open to do video shooting and editing!!!

Our talk with Project Slut put the work we do into perspective. As they do, we use our voices to spread the word about different issues, awesome people doing awesome work (check out the Spotlight Tab), and our understandings of the places we occupy. Taking up space online and in person is so important for young girls, especially young girls of colour who are often marginalized when it comes to voices that we hear in public spaces (online and offline). We really appreciate Erin and Kerin for coming to chat with us. Hopefully there is a next time (and Andy can join us for it! We missed you!)!!!

VBG Mentor/Mentee/Staff Panel Pt II

By Seghen & Nena

The second mentor/mentee/staff panel we had in November was really enjoyable and I learned a lot of the girls’ personalities from their response. While we did this panel, I felt very included with all the ages because we usually don’t feel open to talk. It was nice to communicate with everyone because there were a variety of opinions and responses, and it was also cool to see all the ages vary in experience and advice they shared with us. We would be really happy and open to this activity again!!! It is a good bonding/trusting exercise that I think everyone should try!

What I learned: Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women


By: Maria

*Moving Image Warning At Bottom of Post*

The indigenous people are not really talked about at school but they should be. I learned about it in VBG. During one of our sessions we earned about an artist named Jamie Black who started the Red Dress Project. Red dresses are collected and hung in public spaces as a reminder of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and how they should not be forgotten. Jamie Black wants to bring attention to the gender and racialized violent crimes against Indigenous women. Many people are unaware that this is happening, I was too before we talked about it at VBG.

We should acknowledge what is happening because Indigenous women are because they are people who matter. We want their voices to be heard too because the government is not doing enough, and the previous one said it’s “way past time” for a national inquiry, but it concerns all of us. These women HAVE families and their whole lives. They are more than their circumstances. If we could bring awareness to this issue then we could stop it.

Image and caption reposted from Huffington Post
The REDress project exhibition at the University of Winnipeg. (Photo: 1941Teddy/YouTube)




#MediaLitWeek A Chat with Ana & Annina: Connecting via Art, Social Media, and Believing in Yourself

By: Han

For Media Literacy Week, a week long national event  hosted by Media Smarts and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, VBG had the opportunity to talk to two artists in two different time zones across the world using Google Hangouts…in November! The theme of Media Literacy Week was “Youth & Social Networking: Creative, Connected, Collaborative” which called for making meaningful connections through social media. We decided to participate in this event because we know that times are changing. People have jobs based on their social media skills, there are young entrepreneurs out there using social media to build platforms, and large corporate businesses are changing their business plans to fit with this exciting new way of making connections. So, our webinar focused on world building, careers, self-care,  and creating a platform to voice our opinions.

The two artists’ names were Ana and Annina. Ana is a painter from Sao Paulo, Brazil with exhibits in  local “Casa no Meio do Mundo” community centre that searches to reinforce cultural production/consume and creatives from the outskirts, and in the African Week at the Association des Etudiants de Sciences Po pour l’Afrique in Paris. She is also runs a blog called “Brasil of Colour” in order to amplify the stories, music, and culture of Afro Brazilians, a group that is often silenced even as they are the biggest cultural group in Brazil.  Ana is on her way to being a full-time artist. Annina is the founder and editor of Rooted In Magazine that launched a few months ago. Rooted In Magazine is a space for young voices of colour to write and illustrate their identities and stories about the complex issues and environments that they live in.

For the past couple of weeks VBG has been talking about how our ideas of women, connect or contrast with the world’s. Our sessions started off with points of views people have about women, to how we can change, or go against their point of views to demonstrate who women really are. They look at us as “weak”, and “not capable of being independent”. We do not agree with this at all, as women are strong and we can be very independent. We are not dependent on men.

This video chat session sparked more ideas, opinions, and how there are different ways to get our voices across to everyone. We talked about how to start a platform and how to connect these platforms with other people to get a message across. For instance, starting with a motivation we have, or a goal we have and thinking about how we are going to fulfill it. Then after, actually taking action and doing what we wanted and sticking/believing in it. We discussed the different slangs we have. That day was the day I discovered that people in the UK have the same slangs like, “fam”, “neck”, etc. Shockingly to me, both Brazil and the UK don’t have milk in bags! Also, I learned that Brazil just recently started celebrating Halloween. I find it fascinating that here in Canada we have all these holidays that is so natural for us to celebrate and other countries are probably thinking, “why are people in Canada giving candy to each other on the last day of October?”

I personally learned that trying to voice your opinion can be in any kind of form, from paintings, to images and text in a magazine. While I was growing up, I discovered that I had an interest in fashion. I always dreamt of having a magazine with different opinions, styles etc, but I never really thought that someone that has no professional equipment can do it, until this Google Hangout. It was really heart lifting and inspiring to hear that it is possible to start off with simply posting pictures on tumblr and starting my platform on the site and slowly building an audience etc.

Also, a question along the lines of, “how do you overcome challenges and/or people with negative opinions?” was asked. Both Ana and Annina answered that, when there is something you want to do in life, remember why you are doing it, and if you are serious on what you want to do, other people shouldn’t matter. On top of that, make sure that you surround yourself with people that also want to support you and build your dream.