Seeking to Belong: Whose voices are valued in our communities?
Our University of the Streets Café public conversations are much like any you’d have with friends or family around a dinner table, except with more people, more points of view, and slightly more structure. Conversations are hosted by a volunteer moderator who is there to welcome everyone and keep things on track. To get things started, there’s a guest, or sometimes two, who get the ball rolling by sharing their ideas, experiences and questions. After that, it's all up to the participants.
Our world is made up of a broad range of individuals from cultures and origins that have in turn contributed their beliefs and values to our social construct. Yet, this diversity is not necessarily reflected in the spaces where decisions are made on our collective behalf. As a result, it can appear as if the overarching narrative that informs individual experience of the world disproportionately values the perspective of a privileged few. This public conversation will look at the voices that are heard in our communities and the strategies which the rest of us need to employ in order to reach recognition. What are the limitations of our expressed commitments to multiculturalism? In what ways can privileged power holders demonstrate a commitment to acting in solidarity? How can we benefit from the active integration of a broader range of experiences?
Lucas Mesquita is a 3rd-year political science student at Concordia University and is involved in various departments, mainly as social coordinator at the International Students Office, Concordia University and mentor at Concordia Student Success Centre. Originally from Brazil, he moved to Canada in 2010 to study nursing in the Cégep de Sherbrooke. After graduating, he moved to Montreal where he got involved with a language exchange NGO (Mundo Lingo), before retaking his studies in 2015.
Isabelle Monast-Landriault has been involved since 2011 with Collectif 7 à Nous, which leads the Bâtiment 7 project. She is responsible for development and fostering relationships with local organizations and Point St Charles residents, as well as anyone else wishing to take part in the Bâtiment 7 adventure. Isabelle holds a diploma in community economic development and has wide-ranging experience in collective initatives.
Jesse Chase was born in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal) and spent 13 years growing up in Cornwall, Ontario which lays on unceded Akwesasne Mohawk territory. he is a 4th generation Little Burgundy resident and finds belonging in his family's long line of community work dating back to the Reverend Charles Este and the common struggle for liberation of all his ancestors from both his bajan and scottish heritage. jesse is currently involved with the OFC community empowerment group. He is a local griot, a novelist, essayist, journalist and musician.
Since her early teens Nafissah Rahman has been involved in community work. This passion started when she was with Les Scientifines. Being a woman, a visible minority and veiled she sees the need to give a voice to women from different backgrounds. She sees the need to open dialogue in our community for a more inclusive society. Identity and identifiers have been something she has been pondering on and in considering immigrant’s role in our society.
Myriam Zaidi has been involved in social justice work in Montreal for over 10 years. She considers herself to be an organizer more than anything else-from social movements to the workplace, she is always looking for ways to make spaces (big or small) more liberating. She is also a researcher in the field of social movement learning, intersectional feminist pedagogies, and popular education. She currently works as a human rights educator.
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