CORE Volume 6 2018-2019

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an anti-oppressive publication about feminism, anti-racism, queer identity, anti-poverty, mental health, and (dis)abilities

Volume 6 2018 | 2019

acknowledgments Social Issues Commissioner: Ramna Safeer Equity Affairs Manager: Kate Farrell Co-Editors-in-Chief: Asantewa Nkuah Ayushee Parida Lea Cerron Morgan Sterling Printing: Dan Graham and Allan Graphics Cover Artwork: Dissociative Depersonalization by Ashlyn Fieldhouse

Queen’s University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory. Ne Queen’s University e’tho nońwe nikanónhsote tsi nońwe ne Haudenasaunee tánon Anishinaabek tehatihsnónhsahere ne óhontsa. Gimaakwe Gchi-gkinoomaagegamig atemagad Naadowe miinwaa Anishinaabe aking

2 | Collective Reflections

editor’s letter As I pen my third and final letter to all readers of Collective Reflections, there are many words that come and go from my mind. Gratitude is chief among them, of course. A huge thank you to our publisher, Dan Graham, not only for his assistance in putting Volume 6 together, but for his general wisdom and kindness. I also extend the warmest thank you to my beautiful editing team: Morgan, Ayushee, Pravieena, Amrit, and Vivian, who have all served as both hard workers and treasured friends for me this year. Thank you to the Social Issues Commissioner, Myriam, for always being willing to lend me an ear. Another big thanks to Rebecca, our Equity Affairs Manager, for all her assistance as well. I must also speak of patience. Without a doubt, 2018-2019 was tough for many of us. It seems that every other day, there was a new cross to bear, another burden to overcome. But in the words of singer-songwriter Sade (who I spent a lot of time listening to while working on Volume 6), “It’s Only Love That Gets You Through”. Love, and courage. This year, I was blessed with the opportunity to receive and witness patience, love, and courage in abundance. They came from all the people I worked with, and the stories and artwork our contributors shared with CoRe. I dedicate Collective Reflections Volume 6 to the power of these connections; the power to rise above all circumstances so we can lead our best, most honest lives. And while I am incredibly saddened that my time with CoRe has come to an end, the lessons imparted to me this year leave me optimistic about what lies ahead for this publication. Thank you all so much. All the best, Asantewa Nkuah Editor-in-Chief

Collective Reflections | 3

table of contents Acknowledgements Editor’s Letter Table of Contents

2 3 4

Able The Intersections of EyeDentities, Anonymous Editor’s Note, Ayushee Parida Pieces of Light and Dark, Michelle McTague Exultation, Lee-Ann Taras Recovery Narratives, Jordana Leilah Coming into the Light, Lee-Ann Taras Wishes, The H’art Centre Untitled, Laura I Wish I Was an Angel Who Can Heal People, Maeghan G. I Wish My Sister Would Have Her Baby Soon, Sarah B. I Wish To Be Onstage and Say My Lines, Andrew K. Pins and Needles, Emmy Williams The First and (hopefully) Last Time My Diagnosis Was Called ‘A Problem’, Courtney Weaver What You Meant Was, Emmy Williams Prescription, Emmy Williams

4 | Collective Reflections

8 9 10 12 13 14 15 16 16 17 17 18 19 21 23

table of contents Baseline Trippin’ Sober, Drew Davies Editor’s Note, Amrit Sagoo So, You Say You Want a Revolution, Isabella Atkinson Getting There, Jordana Waserman Untitled, Brittany Giliforte I’m Hungry, Aiman Faheem The Impossible Prodigy, Lin Lune A Loyal Lion, Aiman Faheem

24 25 26 27 28 29 30 35

CultureSHOCK! Feel the Flow, Drew Davies Editor’s Note, Ayushee Parida Just A Little Different, Eden Plater Strange fruits won’t cease your hunger, Alyssa Vernon 清明 (Qing Ming), Jefferson Chuong Defining Oppression, Aiman Hamza Khan A Mute Swan, Aiman Hamza Khan Celebrating Resiliency, Not Canada 150, Maddi Andrews Yellow, Alice 연수娟秀 Kim Mama I don’t know, Maysam Ghani Displaced Without a Land Base and Resurgence through Story, Maysam Ghani Black Excellence, Rachael Quarcoo

36 37 38 44 47 51 52 55 60 57 62 69

Collective Reflections | 5

table of contents HeadsUP Dissociative Depersonalization, Ashlyn Fieldhouse Editor’s Note, Morgan Sterling Untitled, Lee-Ann Taras Dysthymia, Jordana Waserman Not Enough, Aiman Faheem It’s Inevitable, i.t.a. Expanses of the Mind, Jordana Waserman Remembering Spring 2017, Lee-Ann Taras motivation i, Adobea Nkuah motivation iI, Adobea Nkuah The Interview, Anonymous

70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 80 81 82

OutWrite Write your own Narrative, Alyssa Vernon Editor’s Note, Vivian Yao Love Poem 1, Emma McCallum Categorize, Lin Lune Untitled, Emily Townshend Untitled, Finn Huang Confession, Emma McCallum Old Neighbourhood, Danny McLauren

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88 89 90 91 92, 93 94 96 97

table of contents Queen’s Feminist Review Love City, Alyssa Vernon Editor’s Note, Pravieena Gnanakumar a toast, Nika Elmi chicken soup, Pamoda Wijekoon Untitled, Alyssa Vernon Drowning, Sara N. Cecile Old Rocking Chair, Aiman Faheem Gulîstan, Land of Roses, Sydney Wade How could you let this happen, i.t.a. A Community Protected, i.t.a. Perceptions, Aiman Faheem Taking a Seat, Steven Patterson A Scar’s Tale, Aiman Faheem Untitled, Brittany Giliforte Powder, Nika Elmi

98 99 100 101 102 103 104 106 107 111 112 113 120 121 122

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volume VIII

editor’s note ABLE is back and better than ever. Dedicated to redefining the language and connotations associated with accessibility needs, this section is jam-packed with stories of strength, fortitude, and tenacity. It has been both humbling and eye-opening to learn more about accessibility needs around Queen’s campus, and in society as a whole. There is so much resilience in the stories you’re about to read, and I hope you are inspired and touched like I was in assembling this volume of Able. Accessibility needs are all around us, and our understanding of what it means to people can sometimes be archaic. Normalizing these conversations is crucial in inculcating the optimization of accessible services. Lastly, none of this would be possible without our invaluable contributors. It has been an incredible journey to work with them, and to see their struggles, thoughts, and stories around the theme of (dis)ability. I hope you love it as much as I do. Enjoy! Ayushee Parida ABLE Section Head 2018-2019 TRIGGER WARNING Please note that some of these pieces include themes of mental illness, abuse, derogatory language, and discussions of personal lived experiences. Please ensure that you are practicing self-care and self-preservation in approaching these forms of media.

The Intersections of EyeDentities Anonymous Able | 9

Pieces of Light and Dark

Michelle McTague

Pieces of light and dark shattered and split into a way of being that is numb to feeling, and intense in thought. My voices love me, they help while I feel I am draped in hostile vibrancy, and that is alive everywhere. My heart is still intact. As I gain confidence within my experiences, I am never alone within. The illness is invisible, even to me, and with that I wander, seeing darkness and light as shades that embody the people I pass. Good and evil, so clearly defined. I am so caught up that I stumble on my own thoughts. I am so present. I can define the ways into which I live, now and then, and back. I quickly learn not to go past a certain point in my mind, as from there I may never return. My lover asks me “What is happening?” I cannot answer him… it is written that I never speak of it. The powers that be are watching and learning from me. They twist and turn my heart, to see the reaction. I am in their hands, where I submit. And that is the way I go, until I come to. My voices console me. I am going to be ok, they know me, and can tell what is happening around me, even if I do not have a clue. Using them I can live in abundance, where everything is always busy. And with that, I am taken to the hospital. They are all bothered by my presence, and do not have the time to be kind, but I am beyond caring at this point. I am engrained with a numb presence within me. As the doctor asks me questions, he is reciting what he knows about me, but it’s nothing. He is oblivious to what I know. And with that I am locked away, on a psychiatric ward, where my life is made by orders of what the nurses and doctors 10 | Able

with that I am locked away, “onAnd a psychiatric ward, where my life is made by orders of what the nurses and doctors dictate.

dictate. They are so off with what they instill within me, but I can see them, and that makes them uncomfortable, while behind my eyes I feel like they are trying to take away all meanings and parts of me, that reflect who I am. I need to know now, that I have an illness. My mind is afflicted, and I need to learn how to be within the madness. So, I begin to reflect honestly within. I grow in beauty and light, that I choose to see. And that is how I survive each day that I was ill, I learned acceptance, bravery, and forgiveness. And years later, here I am.

So, I begin to reflect honestly within. I grow in “beauty and light, that I choose to see.” After years of medications and coping skills my perspective is a little bit beautiful, people are friendly, and I am sporadically funny and creative, and then the anxiety sets in, and within my face, images of the past life come raging through my heart, and bombard my mind, people are insolent and hostile to look at, and it happens all over again. But it comes in waves, and from there it is just my own mind, scattered and forgetful, it is who I am for some moments. And who I am, is how I view the world, and I am lucky to have different perspectives and experiences. Schizophrenia is just a definition of a doctor’s findings, me, myself, am anything I want to be.

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Lee-Ann Taras

sweet whispers of wind & lake tiny are we of the forest spring into language recall our garden shining after the rain dreaming in sky & hot sun mad drunk delirious with love blood roses what a gorgeous time to worship your beauty luscious purple red & pink crush my petals languid goddess lives a water honey life tongue black & blue beneath the cool breast

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like a shadow sleeps their bitter moon the frantic rusty summer watches above you ask why sad day man girl says let’s play a symphony together sing chant moan sweat & soar like some diamond storm

Recovery Narratives

Jordana Leilah Able | 13

Coming into the Light

Lee-Ann Taras

so smooth through death we lie by the sea when mist is wanting of light children in darkness we lean to the sun greedy little hands grasping at stars eyes blinking as night becomes day we embrace this magical transcendence we howl at the moon with spirits that soar rising from the shadows we bow to the sun with the purest of joy

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The H’art Centre

If you knew your wish would come true, what would you wish for? For months, participants in the H’art School program at H’art Centre contemplated that question whilst partaking in workshops about the visual arts, storytelling, dance, and music led by local professional artists. The result was an exhibit as well as a sold-out production titled “The Wishing Tree” held at THE BOX in December 2018. H’art Centre is a Kingston non-profit, charitable arts hub. It provides opportunities for people with accessibility needs to create, study, and produce works in the arts throughout their lives at all ages. Since 1998, its H’art School program has been offering adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity through education and the arts. The Wishing Tree is based on a story by author Suzanne Pasternak that was in turn inspired by the local stories and legends of Prince Edward County. It told the story of a 7 700-year old sugar maple that some believed had magical powers to grant wishes. For 200 years, people would kneel beneath her canopy holding the branches and the leaves close to their hearts. They made wishes that ultimately came true, until one day, when the tree was struck by lightning.

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It was a story of resilience, strength of community and healing and the resulting visual art work reflected shared wishes to: be happy, spend time doing things we love, and hope for the well-being of family and friends. H’art Centre relies on the help of dedicated field placement students and volunteers! To learn more, visit

I Wish I Was an Angel Who Can Heal People Maeghan G. 16 | Able

I Wish My Sister Would Have Her Baby Soon Sarah B.

I Wish To Be Onstage and Say My Lines Andrew K.

Able | 17

Pins and Needles Emmy Williams

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The First and (hopefully) Last Time My Diagnosis Was Called “A Problem”

Courtney Weaver

It was the fall of 2014. I had just graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History from Queen’s University a few months ago, and my self-esteem was higher than ever. I was doing contract work for the federal government about Autism, and I really liked the team I was working with. I was also enjoying myself with a few ladies from other departments, and it was with them that I was currently having lunch. My team already knew about my Asperger’s diagnosis. I had also recently opened up to my lunch friends about it when it came up as a topic I did a high school presentation on. At some point, an older lady who was a part of my lunch group began to speak. Able | 19

She was slightly unaware of ability and able-bodied privilege. This was apparent when she asked me something along the lines of, “How did you overcome your problem?” To her, I seemed like a completely able-bodied female and she had a hard time believing that I had received a disability diagnosis. I was both stunned and angered. Never in the past had my diagnosis been treated as a problem; I had not been raised to think of it that way, and I had never internally labelled it as an issue. The lady then began to ask me, “How is autism caused?”

in the past had my diagnosis “Never been treated as a problem…” I was still pretty angry with what she initially said, so I replied through gritted teeth, “No one knows”. Just then, another woman who was seated with us began discussing something new with the older lady who had been talking to me. I was grateful for the distraction; this was my chance to put my head down and breathe deeply. I fell out of tune with the conversation, and I wasn’t sure how to deal with this situation—should I excuse myself, and avoid this older lady, or say something? Also, would I be able to say anything coherent while maintaining my composure?

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What You Meant Was Emmy Williams

Able | 21

A minute or two later, I was able to look up again. Both ladies looked at me and the really talkative one pointed out that I seemed uncomfortable. I was proud of myself for being able to withhold the brunt of my anger, but in that moment, I decided that honesty is the best policy in this situation. I answered, “Not so much uncomfortable as angry.” They looked a little puzzled as I went on to say, “Those around me, and I myself, view my Asperger’s as something to work with, and not as a problem.” The older lady truly hadn’t meant to upset me, and she came around to give me a hug. She also reassured me that she thought highly of me and called me “baby girl”, which was her nickname for me. Lunch ended then. I’m not sure that either of them fully understood the gravity of the situation, nor my feelings, but fortunately nothing like that ever happened to me again. However, the fact that such deficit-based words can still float around in the contemporary workspace around those who are differently-abled is concerning. No one should ever have to feel discomfort and unsafe or face what happened to me. I hope that my story highlights the importance of mandatory workplace training sessions regarding respectful language and terminology around ability and accessibility needs. Hear, hear to inclusive and accepting workplaces!

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Prescription Emmy Williams

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volume II

editor’s note Dear Readers, Firstly, thank you for picking up this year’s volume of Collective Reflections, and welcome to Baseline. Baseline is the section of Collective Reflections which addresses issues of financial insecurity and poverty from the perspective of students. For many, Queen’s University seems a world away from issues of poverty and financial insecurity. The university projects an image of wealth, and with that comes the assumption that most students possess that wealth. However, the truth is that many students and people in the Kingston community struggle financially regularly. Yet, we rarely realize the extent to which financial insecurity affects people, such as how much it can affect mental and physical health. Sometimes financial insecurity can be visible, and sometimes it isn’t, but there often still is a strong effect on the person’s mental and physical health. Working on this section was an incredible way for me to get in touch with parts of the Queen’s community whom I always felt needed to be heard more. It was a chance to learn more about the nuances of a complex issue and how widespread and diverse the effects can be. I hope that after reading this section, you continue to keep the issues that financially insecure students face throughout their academic career. Thank you, Amrit Sagoo

Trippin’ Sober

Drew Davies Baseline | 25

So, You Say You Want a Revolution Isabella Atkinson When will you hear? When will you listen? How loud must we shout To be acknowledged. Or should we be silent, as we are meant to. Or should we accept it, as we were born to. Shall we stand on the backs Of those we’ve forgotten. Shall we turn on each other As you have to us. Or band together and stronger, become.

26 | Baseline

And through knowing support Can we push each other up? What note must we hit, To shatter the ceiling? And will we be cut by the falling glass? i.t.a.

Getting There

Jordana Waserman

Baseline | 27

Untitled Brittany Giliforte 28 | Baseline

a crowd of living corpses, “Amidst his spirit still lit the skies”

his way over barefoot “Heondanced rocky, barren ground”

I’m Hungry Aiman Faheem Baseline | 29

The Impossible Prodigy Lin Lune

Sit down, you two boys, let me tell you about a hero named Richard. He was young once, a little cute thing just like you were, seven years old and not quite tall. Still holding on to a bit of his baby cheeks because his mom couldn’t bear to stop giving him lunch, and the lad stayed healthy and fed while two older sisters grew thin and lanky. This was Rigel in the Second Wave, not quite regal yet. We came from there too, from the mines, the soot stained sky; me and your grandma—Sol bless her—got out of that dump. I grew up in the dirt, they say it’s like breathing a cartage of e-cig a day. But Richard, he had it even worse. His dad was crushed in the mines before he was born. An older brother got the lung rot after he lost his right arm twice- one flesh, one prosthetic. Things like that don’t happen anymore. We have food here, clean water, we’re richer. Yet still lazy and disrespectful, huh? Sai, look in my eyes when grandad’s talking. Give me a ‘yessir’. Good boy. Living on a backwater planet of dirt, this Richard grew like a weed, soaked in whatever knowledge he could find. He ate 30 | Baseline

all his food, licked his bowl clean, knowing the sacrifices his family made. After reading through the local library twice, a kind man lent him a computer- suddenly, the entire internet was at his fingertips. He was seven, mind you. Well fed and well learned, young Richard Wang grew to be tall and strong yet kind and caring, poetry sprouting from his fingertips and an air of awe in his wake. His sisters stayed home as there was only one pair of pants to go around the three of them, and fourteen year old Richard could earn a better wage. He was strong, yes, but the overseers worked him hard, sent him crawling through the smallest of cracks for any speck of minerals. He never saw the sun; he went to work before dawn and came home the dead of night, where his sisters washed his soot and sweat streaked face as he completed his online college diploma. You’re getting yourself a job, hear me? As soon as I convince your mother you’ll scrape together an outfit and go knocking doors together. Don’t give me that look. Wang means emperor, loosely translated. King. Richard King. He survived the hardship, scored top ten out of six star systems, and got out. Sixteen year old Richard King on a starship, the first in generations of ancestors to leave the planet with nothing but fifty credits and a vial of dirt in his pockets, and sun starved skin so pale he looked like a white man. He arrived on Mars, center of the galaxy. By then he knew three languages fluently, and immediately landed a job that would send money home. He excelled in university, completing his undergrad a year less than everyone else. He studied in transit from one odd job to another. He graduated just a fifth of a decimal behind the valedictorian, to everyone’s dismay. But don’t let such a small setback define you, boys. Baseline | 31

Unimpressed with academia, Richard walked away from 14 offers of PhDs and took a flight to Cassini, a good city back then. He went in the first music store he saw, placed his little vial of brownish-blue dirt from home onto the counter, and told his story. Awe-struck, the shopkeeper lent him a cheap flute, to be paid when he had the money. Richard found a crowded intersection and started playing. Take at least this lesson away: learn music if you can. Within a year Richard had amassed a celebrity following, selling a substantial number of flutes. In two, he took over the store he bought his first instrument from, and reinvented the flute. So innovative it was that King Flutes were shipped all over the galaxy. Richard hung around, passed the reins, then started a hologram movie company and sold it for the price of a small iron asteroid. Now he put his polymath skills to good use; he invented and marketed a device that could pull water from dirt—more specifically, the dirt composition of his birthplace. Rigel flourished. The most water-rich planet humankind has ever known, it became a regal paradise. Many inventions followed in that stead, and so Richard bootstrapped himself the Galilean Dream: he changed the mind of the world. It’s nice to dream, huh? If you’re not getting it… Seeing an epidemic suddenly strike a country he once visited, Richard finished med school and invented the cure in two months, preventing a multi-system spread of the disease. He corrected the orbits of moons. He got a clown licence for his sisters. He blew the whistle on a corrupt Premier and was elected by unanimous vote to sit in his place, creating the only time in recorded history where an election had 100% voter turnout. He ceded that spot for a female candidate, also creating history. He got inspired and wrote a book in three languages that added more words into 32 | Baseline

English than Shakespeare. Well, anything to say, boys? What about, “gee, granddaddy, I wonder what Richard’s doing now?” Or “is this even a real person? Can anyone actually achieve that?” Who names a child after a dead British king anyway? Yeah, Sai, I know you’re ten. I’ll cut you some slack, storytime’s over. …When’s the next day your mom works overtime? I’ve got my own stuff to do. Look, San, those e-learning things you have—I never touched a computer at your age. We didn’t have wi-fi! Hahaha your jaw just hit the floor that was adorable. It’s all garbage, you know. Five million students a class? Some JPEG that proclaims you graduated? You’re in grade… what grade again? Doesn’t matter. Finish it up to the point where it starts costing you, because anything else isn’t worth it. Trust me, I tried, and look where I ended up: the slums of Olympus with my own mountain of debt. What’d you say? That story- well, Mars Uni is nice if you get the full scholarship, or work fourteen hours a day and go to class for twelve more. I’m not stopping anybody. Free will, eh?

Hm, I’ll get the door. Ah, hello Xiangyun. Long day? I know.

Baseline | 33

I’m done babysitting. Study hard, get a job, make me proud. Don’t go staring at a screen all day, we can’t afford glasses. …You three, Rigel always had resorts, always had tourists. It also always had mines. Remember where you came from; just because we live on Mars doesn’t mean we can forget the other side of our home planet, the good old dirt you have in you. Don’t go dreaming of changing the world. Just be you. Hmph. See you all later.

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A Loyal Lion Aiman Faheem

Last summer, I met a young lad who was brought up in a land that did no justice to his heroism. He was alienated in his own soil. I remember noticing him because of his contagious positive aura. Amidst a crowd of living corpses, his spirit still lit the skies. I called him over from afar. He danced his way over barefoot on rocky, barren ground. I looked into his green glistening eyes and held his hand. I asked, “Child, what’s your name?” He exclaimed, “My name is Hamza.” I stated, do you know of what is happening?” He softly replied, “Who would know better than me! My eyes witnessed the death of my mother.” With teary eyes, I asked, “And your father?” He cried, “My father was taken before I was even born.” He smiled and went on, “But it’s okay because before my mother left me, she said, “I named you Hamza, I named you my lion, and you will be fearless my son.” He picked up his little bag and lead me to his shelter. His little bag that he’d lie to himself with. I could see through it. I could see the sand that escaped the holes, and the rocks that poked out. And yet, he’d protect it as if it truly had his belongings. I promised him, I’d find a way to get him out of here. And his rejection left me wounded. He sobbed, “Why do you all want to give us refuge from our own soil! If you can, take those who do not belong here, please!” His words left scratches on my heart. His replies annoyed me. I could not comprehend why a child had learnt to give such sensible, complete responses! I could not comprehend why before eating the plate of food he’d receive every two days, he’d still manage to say grace. There was an unsettling and absurd gratitude in his attitude that ached my heart.

I could not comprehend why before “eating the plate of food he’d receive every two days, he’d still manage to say grace.”

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volume VIII

editor’s note This is CultureSHOCK!’s twenty third year being published. CultureSHOCK! was inspired by an Anti-Racism review that was created in 1996, to provide a forum for dialogue exchange around issues of race, ethnicity, culture, and identity. This year, we want to honour voices. Often the most powerful voices get stifled by oppression and insensitivity. We have worked relentlessly to infuse some of these powerful voices together for this volume of CultureSHOCK! In today’s political climate, it is important to acknowledge both positions of privilege and hindrance. Fostering open and intellectual discussions about anti-racism can be rendered meaningless without active awareness. We’re immensely grateful to our contributors; from sharing poetry and visuals, to permitting the publication of excerpts from larger bodies of their work, it’s been a pleasure to watch CultureSHOCK! coalesce this year. I hope you love it as much as I do. Enjoy! Ayushee Parida CultureSHOCK! Section Head 2018-2019 TRIGGER WARNING Please note that some of these pieces include themes of violence, derogatory language, and discussions of racism and personal lived experiences. Please ensure that you are practicing self-care and self-preservation in reading these pieces.

Feel the Flow

Drew Davies CultureSHOCK! | 37

Just a Little Different Eden Plater

Autopilot feet navigated me through the parking lot, both my brain and my trailing mother left in their wake. I reached the car without my consciousness ever having truly left the police station. It was all-consuming, lll I could think about. Through the haze that clouded my adrenaline-fueled mind, the car was unlocked, my seat belt was fastened, and the air conditioning was blasting sharp, cold air. The throbbing in my knuckles contrasted with the ice pack wrapped tight around them, the feeling was both uncomfortable and grounding. “Do you have anything you want to say to me?” “I’m not sorry,” I answered. It surprised me that I managed to sound so confident; inside, my stomach felt like it was turning itself inside out. My mother’s knuckles whitened around the steering wheel as she pulled out of the parking lot. She made no motion to look at me, instead focusing hard on the faded yellow lines that the car was passing by. The silence surrounded us in a fog of confusion and hurt. I half hoped she would just let me wallow, but when I noticed her raised eyebrow I knew this wasn’t meant to be. “I don’t know how to deal with this behaviour, Amelia,” she said. “It’s not a big deal.” Her slight huff of exasperation confirmed that this was the wrong thing to say, but I couldn’t find the energy to care. 38 | CultureSHOCK!

The stark difference between “our skin tone was noticeable, but it never mattered to me.”

“You’re lucky the Parkers dropped the charges,” she said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re off the hook with me and Dad.” Empty threats. Everything would just go back to normal. Everything had to go back to normal. “Do you at least want to tell me why you did it?” I couldn’t believe she would even ask that question. “You know why.” Her eyes openly avoided meeting mine in the overhead mirror, but I couldn’t look away from them. They were hardened with a dull weariness that I hadn’t noticed before, devoid of warmth and the lively green colour I’d inherited. I wondered, not for the first time, if things could have been different had Dad’s work not taken us halfway across the country. The move was hard for all of us, but it seemed to be especially onerous for her. I rolled the passenger window down and let my fingers trail along the outer shell of the car. The cool night air offered a sanctuary from the concentrated tension that threatened to swallow the both of us. I wished that I could just stay in that moment, soaking in the humidity and the smells of rural land. I knew we would have to drive past the Parker’s house on the way home and I wasn’t sure if it was possible to become prepared for the torrent of emotions that were inevitable. CultureSHOCK! | 39

I barely got my arm back inside when the window started rolling back up. “We have the air conditioning on,” my mom said. “If you’d chopped my fingers off right then, would that have counted as my punishment?” I didn’t think her jaw could clench any harder. Taking a deep sigh, I decided to steer the conversation out of the danger zone. “Is Mina still up?” “Your dad said he’d put her to bed, but that doesn’t mean anything.” She answered as she pulled the car onto a different road, the city signs and traffic lights becoming more and more familiar. “I don’t doubt that she’s sitting in the window, waiting for us to pull in.” A mental image formed in my mind: my nine-year-old sister clad in polka-dot pajamas, waiting by the front hall window for our car to turn in the driveway. The ghost of a smile tugged at my lips. It was somewhat routine for her to stay up late and wait for me, whether I was caught in a dinner shift at work or studying late at a friend’s house. Although statistically a barrier, the eight-year difference between us only served to strengthen our bond. The first time I saw her, the day my parents brought her home from where they were signing papers at the adoption agency, I knew that I had a best friend for life. She was a toddler and I, at ten years old, was ecstatic at the thought of having a sibling. There was no comparison between Mina’s looks and my thin blonde hair in a bob cut with fair, freckled and often sunburnt skin. She had thick, curly hair and rich chestnut eyes that seemed to melt into the deepness of her complexion. The stark difference between our skin

40 | CultureSHOCK!

tone was noticeable, but it never mattered to me. Not once did I question the validity of our relationship. I knew she was meant to be my blood sister, complete with an infectious golden personality and a laugh that could light up a room. I’d never known a reality where others thought differently until today. My throbbing knuckles brought me back to the moment of impact, the swelling serving as a reminder of just how hard I’d had to punch to rid myself of the racial slur that rang through my ears. I’d barely felt the pain when it happened; even the iron taste that filled my mouth didn’t deter from my perfectly landed hits. The faint static of someone yelling was lost in the cloud of bruised fists and blood; perhaps it was Mina. Maybe it was me. Or maybe it was Alex Parker, who had stood on his front lawn moments before I’d lost control, taunting and steadfast. I’d seen Alex a few times in passing, but because we had only recently moved to the area, I wasn’t especially familiar with him nor his family. They lived down the street from us and we took the same bus to school. I’d noticed his unwavering gaze on multiple occasions when Mina and I walked our dog past his lawn, where he was often out doing yard work. I always felt his eyes like a prickle on the back of my neck. Never before had he said anything to us, good or bad, so the heinous comment seemed to come out of nowhere. For a brief second, I almost questioned if I heard wrong, but Mina’s face—completely crushed and shocked by a word she’d never heard before—told me everything I needed to know. I

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wasn’t sure she even knew the context of what had been said. Our last neighbourhood had been home to many races, very different from the blunt whiteness of the street we now lived on. I knew she knew it was hurtful and it caused my stomach to sink. I expected him to try to take it back. The way he stood proudly with his arms crossed made it worse. I could see his teenage confidence, sure that there would be no repercussions to his actions, and it drove me into a fury I didn’t realize had been simmering. Pure adrenaline and anger surged through me. By the time his mother saw what was happening and ran outside, hysterically crying into her phone, I’d managed to get some good hits in. When the police arrived, I was sporting a split lip, a mild bruise by my left temple and a bitten tongue that caused my mouth to overflow with blood. Mina was nowhere to be found. I hoped she’d gone home. The hours after that were a blur of questions and waiting around at the police station. Alex’s parents had wanted to take legal action against me, but something made them decide against it. I hoped it was Alex realizing that he would be in just as much hot water if they went ahead with a lawsuit. I felt bad for not being aware of Mina in the midst of my impromptu brawl, and I felt guilty that my mom had to take time out of her night to deal with me. However, I didn’t feel guilty for reorganizing Alex Parker’s face. The evidence of what he’d said was visible through a broken nose, butterfly bandages and some nasty bruising. It

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was out there for the world to see. I’d made sure he couldn’t deny it. The lights were off in the Parker house when we eventually drove by. The only indication of what had happened was the trampled grass in the front yard and the dried blood on the curb. I could just make out a figure in the front window when we pulled into our driveway. “She was really worried about you, you know,” my mom said, turning off the engine. She turned to the side, looking at me directly for the first time that night. “She looks up to you.” I nodded. “That’s exactly why I did it.”

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Strange fruits won’t cease your hunger Alyssa Vernon

I’m black like midnight in the milky way, unfathomable. But black like my ancestors, unrecognizable. Black like [blank]. Black been erased. The black that you crave, hungry, you want a taste. Your gaze creeps up my body and stops there at the top of my head, inches from my hair,

“Can I touch it?”

You want to touch you want to tease. It comes with ease, I hear myself say “please,

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don’t touch the art”

Fuck that,

you want all this dark?

The heart we cannot part from our art?

Art, for y’all to consume you always want to assume you have the right to view me like this. No. Put your hand down. Don’t give your two cents.


I don’t care for what you think my work meant. My work, my art, myself does not exist for you to assimilate and alter its meaning like this. Our work, our art, ourselves become bleached;

a watered-down form of blackness

that white folks love to eat.

Cuz we’re sweet,

but a bit tough to chew.

Like strange fruit

picked ripe from the root and

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All I want is for my people to be recognized.

But black bodies are


Black art turned commercialized. Black bodies made weaponized. Black art remains Colonized. This feels like goodbye. All over again, We’re saying farewell to the motherland. Your white gaze manifests into hands that wrap around my neck,

like a noose

on an elder tree

bearing strange fruits. But I won’t let you peel the bark.

You won’t come to know all this dark, you can’t consume all this art.

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清明 (Qing Ming) Jefferson Chuong DEE doo, DEE doo, DEE doo. An ambulance zips by the 張 family household, and I can’t help but remember the car accident. It was the last time I saw them in person, 媽媽 mother and 哥哥 brother. Today, we meet back at home. 爸爸 Father and I take care of the house until then–we watch over it.

Krikkity krikk. Krikkity Krekk.

I toss and turn on my top bunk. I count the holes on my cottage cheese ceiling. Chalie snores from his bunk below. His mouth is wide open. I miss him. Daisy, our piano teacher, says that Chalie has perfect pitch. He’s my big brother. His body is bigger. He’s twice as tall, twice as fat as me. He’s also twice as talented. 媽媽 mother stomps her way down the stairs and into the kitchen. She’s usually FORTE! today she’s louder.


First—tap water, second—the big wok and metal pots—then, her powerful CHOP! Today is April 4 清明 (Qing Ming), Tomb Sweeping Day. 媽媽 mother and 哥哥 brother are visiting us. 爸爸 father says he’s a better cook than 媽媽 mother, but he never practices. Not even close to how much Mama does. CultureSHOCK! | 47

Daisy says that practice makes perfect so Chalie and I always practice things. We play the piano together. And when Chalie starts to sing, I like to jump around and cheer him on. CHOP! I throw my hands over my ears and look out the window over our star-shaped backyard. That cherry tree has been here since the beginning of time. I can tell all the flowers are happy because they’re smiling and bowing towards the sun. I can even see polka dots on the tree. Mmmmm. Sweet, and juicy. Just like me! CHOP! BOOM! Chalie crashes his head onto the wooden floorboard. The sasquatch has risen! “Aiya!” we scream. (That’s how Cantonese people say ‘f**k’) **** “Ay, boy.” 爸爸 father says. “Fold ingot.” Most people think that Japanese people made origami, but it’s really Chinese people. Doesn’t everyone know? Everything is made in China. Ask the dollar store. “Do we really have to burn all this 金紙? Can’t we buy a grand piano, or build a treehouse in the backyard?” I ask, examining the joss paper squares. He gives me a stone-cold look. “Understand. Or no understand?” 爸爸 father is one of the smartest guys I know but he’s stupid to think that I can learn as quickly as he can. “Jay-son,” 媽媽 mother says. I turn towards her as she sets the table down by the 張 family shrine. 48 | CultureSHOCK!

She stops for a moment and looks past me. She moves some plastic containers and a coy fish painting off the table. “Chalie. Chalie! Help Mommy.” “Coming 媽媽!” Chalie places his palm on the red and green hell money. He fans it out in a perfect circle. He leaves it on the ground near me and walks past my arm. I take seven steps towards the kitchen and that’s when it hits me. Oyster sauce, garlic, green onion, soy sauce, and ginger. The fragrance of steaming, hot rice!

This must be heaven.

媽媽 and 哥哥 dance around each other. She’s wearing her favourite pink apron and it’s dirty with vegetable oil. She throws her rubber gloves over the sink. He grabs ten sets of chopsticks and a stack of small, red wine cups. She plates the pork roast and balances it on her forearm, then scoops whole white chicken with her left hand. Chalie passes the eating and drinking stuff behind his back. She accepts with her right hand and rushes towards the shrine. My brother spins around her as he heads towards the rice cooker. He’s going to pack each bowl nice and tight. It’s the best way to serve rice like a pro. Upside-down style.

“Ay, boy.” 爸爸 says.


“拜神.” ****

“Ay, boy.” 媽媽 says.


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That was on his wrist. “Sorry,” Chalie says. “The food looks so yummy.” “No eat yet. You must wait for your ancestors to eat first. 爸爸 father lose his pinky because he greedy,” she says, acting out her infamous CHOP! 媽媽 mother pours the small cups of rice wine into another bowl so not to waste it. The front door swings open. 爸爸 lights his cigarette and looks up into the dark sky. 媽媽 and 哥哥 spark a fire in the metal tin. 爸爸 throws his cigarette away. 媽 媽 throws the first ingot into the fire. 哥哥 starts to cry. “Chalie,” I say, as the arch forms from underneath us. “花桥!” (Fakieu—that means flower bridge in Chinese. I swear.) He looks at the food set for me—through me, past me—but I have to follow 爸爸 across the bridge up to heaven.

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Defining Oppression Aiman Hamza Khan Rewind that “I’m oppressed?”

What did I just hear? Hold up!

Please excuse me While I try to define What oppression actually feels like In case you missed out the point Oppression is when you ridiculously stare me down Across the street Daily on the bus And ceaselessly on the media Because I’m not a copy of your magazine covers Oppression Is when you forget my land is An equally valid piece of this global puzzle Oppression Is when you dictate my choice of covering because Perhaps you’re standing up for me No. You’re not. You’re putting words in my mouth And that is possibly the most appalling method of oppression As someone who relentlessly violates me And continuously is equated with those who are commended Oppression Is often an unrecognized cruelty CultureSHOCK! | 51

A Mute Swan Aiman Hamza Khan The lifelines of the pure Trashed Stained And forgotten Without a cure The lone voice heard From afar Was brutally blurred Without a chance Buried away at first glance The sun hid off As darkness entered With a loud cough And the white moon vanished Just like a mute swan Yet the innocent remained calm Awaiting the next bomb Perhaps it was simply A means of getting close To the vow made by The One who knows For power doesn’t last When patience is steadfast

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Celebrating Resiliency, Not Canada 150 Excerpts from: An Exhibition Review of Kent Monkman’s Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience

Maddi Andrews Kent Monkman’s Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, a thought-provoking exhibition created in response to last year’s Canada 150 celebrations, was displayed at the Agnes Etherington Art Gallery in Kingston and will continue to circulate throughout galleries across Canada over the next few years. As both the artist and curator for this exhibition, Monkman contrasted his own paintings—which were strongly styled after classical sublime landscape and history paintings—with historical artifacts, photographs, and depictions of similar subjects by settler-colonial artists including Robert Harris. Monkman’s two-spirit alter-ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, guided the viewer through these dark moments of Canadian history, ranging from before Confederation to the present day, and recounted the history of Canada from a perspective of First Nations’ resilience.

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By including this time-travelling trickster who unconventionally advocated for her people, Monkman constructed instances of humour within the emotionally charged exhibition, thereby also increasing the accessibility of its important themes, including community, humour, identity, sexuality, oppression, and resilience. As the author, I would like to preface this article by stating that I am not an individual who identifies as being of Indigenous ancestry, rather an ally who supports and advocates for Indigenous communities. Within the following exhibition review, I represent my own perspectives and my own response to Kent Monkman’s Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience. Within Monkman’s representation of Confederation, the nude Miss Chief reclined dramatically on a stool covered in a Hudson Bay Company blanket, thus referencing the importance of Indigenous peoples within the fur trade. The male politicians were clearly shocked by the scene before them, a feeling which was initially shared by the viewer. However, this astonished response transformed to humour and pleasure as the viewer recognized her role: a figure who unconventionally imposed an Indigenous narrative of resilience and advocated for her people through her powerful stance. Through the insertion of Miss Chief within the paintings, Monkman successfully created moments of pleasure, but also managed to make the audience feel unsettled. Historically, the inclusion of humour in art slashed a hole in the perceptible world in order to undermine power relations. These traditions were essential when fashioning the figure of Miss Chief, who employed humour and trickery to ease the illumination of painful histories. Through this humour and transgressive, nonhegemonic display of sexuality, Monkman uniquely refocused Indigenous peoples within the Canadian narrative. 54 | CultureSHOCK!

Historically, two-spirit individuals were revered within many Indigenous cultures, and the history and status associated with this identity intensified Miss Chief’s strength. In this sense, Miss Chief played a dual role, where she signified the cultural power and status of two-spirit individuals, but also acted as a symbol of oppression. The effect of this distinct approach provoked an uncomfortable combination of humour and horror within the viewer. By combining the humour of Miss Chief’s antics, the horror of the oppression she represents, and the power of her identity as a two-spirit individual, Monkman effectively forced the viewer to consider the complexity of colonial histories within Canada and reconfigured Indigenous peoples within that narrative. Monkman also emphasized the importance of the bison for many Indigenous cultures within the chapter entitled “Starvation,” which contained the work Starvation Table (2017), several painted representations of bison, and a rifle. As the exhibition continued to follow a historical trajectory, documenting moments such as the forcible signing of treaties to the incarceration of Indigenous peoples, Monkman developed upon the exhibition themes, particularly that of Indigenous resiliency. Unlike the previous chapters, which seemed rooted within the colonial history of Canada, the subject matter of the chapter entitled “Incarceration” situated the viewer within the present day. The absence of a frame around Seeing Red furtherly differentiated this painting from the others, perhaps signifying that the issues represented within the work, such as the incarceration of Indigenous peoples and the lasting impact on communities, is still ongoing and prevalent within the present day.

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Within the final room of the exhibition, which featured the chapters “Forcible Removal of Children” and “Sickness and Healing,” the tone distinctly shifted. Although Miss Chief’s presence within the previous works enabled the difficult themes to become more accessible for the viewer, her absence even more clearly signified the pain and suffering of Indigenous peoples at the hands of colonizers. Without Miss Chief, the mischievous trickster who inspires humour, there was no distraction or escape from the difficult subject matter. Instead, the viewer was forced to confront these distressing scenes, which emphasized the transgenerational trauma of the residential school system. Within this exhibition, Monkman acknowledged several painful chapters of Canadian history, and through the inclusion of Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, considered the story of Canada from a perspective of Indigenous resilience and strength. Although the exhibition addressed difficult themes and challenging subject matter, Shame and Prejudice concluded with a hopeful note. As Monkman stated, “The fact that Indigenous peoples continue to survive at all is a testament to our resiliency and strength.” Following the Canada 150 celebrations, Kent Monkman’s exhibition encouraged the viewer to consider the implications—and consequences—of a colonial history to further reflect upon an alternative and more productive celebration, one of Indigenous resilience.

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Mama I don’t Maysam Ghani know Mama I wrote about you I wrote about you in school I made a comic book about you I told my teachers My classmates With pride, looked them dead in the eye And said Mama survived a mass bombing on her refugee camp when she was only 13 years’ old We’re almost 13 What in the world have we experienced?

refuge But the site of another war Extensions of the hate, the blood, the darkness shed from home To the foreign place of Canada Mama tell me Please

Honour mama Kiss mama’s feet Pray for her For heaven is located under her feet Her hard-working feet

Mama I spoke about you I spoke about you in a poem A poem I presented proudly in front of 1000 people Mama it made my teacher cry Cry because she felt my love for you My honour for the name you gave me Maysam Abu Khreibeh The name you carried on your back Like you carried me once Balancing a single parent life Mama you carried Four hard-headed kids on your

Feet that walked over broken bomb shells Toes that touched the dust of war Heels split by the displacement of generations through tayta and jido Syria and Palestine Permanence in a temporary moskeyem, a temporary place of

Is it possible to build a true home in Canada - A “home on native land”?

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back All alone I asked the audience that day to honour their guardians as a tribute to you mama Our heads were stubborn Our heads harder than the helmets meant to protect IDF soldiers From the resilience and strength of the rock The weapon of the intifada Mama Where did jido leave his rock? Did he take it with him to the temporary place of refuge? Or did he bury it under decades of blood in the once fertile land back home? Mama I want to honour you Mama I want to honour so bad it hurts my heart knowing that I can’t teach my kids the mother tongue you sung to me on nights I was scared, the language that tayta used to wipe your tears, the words that you could use to share your own story Mama it hurts that I have never seen it You have never seen it Mama it’s in our blood The olives 58 | CultureSHOCK!

The lemons The dirt The skies It’s in our blood but why, why can’t I see it? Time goes on You’re forgetting We’re losing They’re winning This is what they wanted Exile Exile Exile Dirty Arabs Go back to your country But Our land is your land your land is my land No No No Mama we’re losing I can’t see I can’t taste All I ever wanted was to embrace the olive tree But they stripped it from its roots Disembodied Disembodied Lost Its taste Its home Its stability Mama what’s you without history?

Misplaced I find myself retracing crumbs of knowledge in distant lands Lands where the white man stole from the “Dirty Indian”, centuries before he stole from me Mama I act because of you Mama I do I scramble, I ask questions, I’m ashamed I don’t know But I don’t blame you For the loss The grief I feel for something I never had Mama I act because of you I move I talk I sing I dance I continue because of you Mama I want to learn more for you I want to share with you all that they stole from us I want to dig into every archive, every library, every shelf, every book, into the depths of each page Each word I want to analyze for every life they took, and every step jido took, and every tree that fell, and every key that was stolen, and every child that was taken in the midst of the night,

and every land succession, and every bomb on the mok5eyem, and every Athan that was silenced, Impossible silence. I want each word that I unearth from the land to fly - fly and hit them hard Hard like a bullet Hard enough to shatter the rocksolid wall of apartheid that they have carried in their hearts and minds to ignore our cries As people, people continue to die Mama I breathe for you For the essence of resilience, you transpire in all the breaths you’ve shared with me Story is our resistance We are in a place of exile Separated by generations Separated by language Separated by culture But I swear on my life I will know Every tale, every legend, every tear that was shed I will know, Mama I will know A spoken word piece CultureSHOCK! | 59


Yellow I made this sweet collage with @queenscollagecollectives to highlight the importance of Asian representation in popular media. 2018 has been referred to as the “Golden Age” of Asians in Hollywood. However, it is important to keep in mind that widely successful diverse movies (Crazy Rich Asians, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) were originally asked by numerous production companies to cast White females as their lead actors. Structural racism does exist in the media (not just for Asians, but also in other minorities) and it’s time for Hollywood to wake up and realize that casting diverse characters makes films both profitable and meaningful. In my collage, I tried to use the colour yellow as a reclamation of language (similar to the N-word). A Mandarin version of this Coldplay song was specifically recorded for the Crazy Rich Asians movie. In the words of the movie’s director, “…From being called [yellow] in a derogatory way throughout grade school, to watching movies where they called cowardly people yellow, it’s always had a negative connotation in my life...until I heard [this] song”. Coldplay’s song described the colour as “beautiful” and “magical”. He said that “it was an incredible image of attraction and aspiration that it made [him] rethink [his] own self-image”. This inspired me to make the colour yellow an important element of my collage.

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Displaced Knowledges Without a Land Base and Resurgence through Story

Excerpts from: A Critical Reflection on My Epistemological Proximity to the Re-centering of Nishnaabeg Land-Based on Pedagogies and Story

Maysam Ghani

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As an “almost assimilated” Muslim Palestinian-Syrian settler of colour1, my epistemology has been heavily shaped by cognitive imperial2 processes of my upbringing in the urban landscape of inner-city Toronto, and the settler colonial displacement of my family from our homelands of Palestine and Syria. Settler colonialism is a “land-centered” structure that operates with a violent “logic of elimination” through the genocide, assimilation and exile of Indigenous people in both Turtle Island and Palestine. Living in the Canadian settler colonial matrix, anti-colonial thought must deconstruct internalizations of the “western academic industrial complex”. One must revert back to a landbased pedagogy for the total resurgence of Indigenous ways of knowing. This process of personal exploration of identity takes place through the unearthing of collective memory and spiritual connection to the land. Using my spoken word piece, “Mama I don’t know” as a tool to (re)imagine a way out of cognitive imperialism, I endure the ongoing struggle of what it means to honour my mother, my ancestors, my ancestral land, and my identity while being cognitively displaced from my own ancestral lands, mother tongue, and stories. I actively work to (re)discover land-based knowledge through my community work with Solidarity for

1 According Rita Kaur Dhamoon, settlers of colour are not the same as colonial settlers, their “settler privileges” come from the “unearned benefits to live and work on Indigenous lands… through citizenship rights within the settler state” (4). This is especially important to understand as a relation between Indigenous communities and migrant settlers. 2 Marie Battiste describes cognitive imperialism as the process in which Eurocentric education suppresses Indigenous knowledges, causing the “white washing” of the mind as a part of the assimilative process of the settler colonial state (23). CultureSHOCK! | 63

Palestinian Human Rights at Queen’s University (SPHR), and Idle No More Kingston (INMK), two groups which center landbased struggle for a decolonized future. For displaced Indigenous peoples, and diasporic children disconnected from their original land bases, story holds the power to resurge knowledge systems. In my spoken word piece, I explore the disruption of my knowledge systems due to the loss of a symbiotic relationship with my ancestral lands. I recognize the disruption of my knowledge base as an extension of being the grandchild of one of the hundreds of thousands exiled out of Palestine during the 1948 Nakba3 (my grandmother was one of the many who fled Homs, Syria in the 50s4). Further displacement stems from my parents living in constant ‘survival mode’ in a Palestinian-Syrian refugee camp based in Beirut, Lebanon. My parents were only concerned with building a “better” life in the “safe haven” of Canada at the time of their immigration. As a result, through the reflection of my epistemological displacement, I resist the assimilative processes of settler colonialism that continues to puncture land-based epistemologies. My epistemological make up as a diasporic settler of colour has been heavily impacted by the assimilative settler colonial narrative. During my university journey, I began deconstructing various narratives. As a result of my 3 Nakba is Arabic for “catastrophe”, in 1948, Israel celebrated its “Declaration of Independence” at the expense of destroying Palestinian villages, exiling out over 700,000 Palestinian refugees (Pappe 2). 4 In my spoken word piece, I refer to my grandmother and grandfather in transliterated Arabic as “tayta” and “jido”, to make a tribute to my mother tongue, and kinship connections. 64 | CultureSHOCK!

upbringing, with a single-mother raising three kids, I took to the streets of inner city Toronto and became enthralled with the diasporic sub-culture created among the children of migrant settlers. In addition, through my absorption of the settler colonial education system, my connection to Arabic, Islam, and Palestinian culture was weakened. This furthered my displacement, and distance between Indigenous people and the stories of the land that I resided on and caused me to be in the “twilight zone” of being a Palestinian-Syrian and a first generation Canadian – “an uncomfortable place”. In my spoken word piece, I question what it means for my family to be migrant settlers, attempting to build a “home in Canada – A ‘home on native land’” further questioning how our deep displacement has distanced our proximity to Indigenous communities on Turtle Island (Abu Khreibeh). I discuss the feeling of being “[m]isplaced… retracing crumbs of knowledge” about my history. I recognize how my diasporic experience has decentered my ancestral lands, and the lands I currently reside, causing a misplacement of intergenerational transmission of ancestral knowledges, and land-based knowledge systems. Through spoken word reflection, I am able to heal the disruption made to my identity, and knowledge system, further my resistance to the assimilative processes of the settler colonial state. Although Indigenous knowledge centers land-based practice and oral transmission of story, Indigenous identity is not centered on place connection. Instead, the knowledge relies on the (re)discovering of specific communal and family histories/stories that the individual carries to transcend assimilative settler colonial narratives. Thus, it is vital to move beyond identity politics to focus on the intergenerational transmission of Indigenous knowledge. CultureSHOCK! | 65

This transmission of knowledge must be achieved through the resurgence of collective stories of the land. For instance, in my piece I carry the memory of “the olives| the lemons| the dirt| the skies|” in the collective DNA that was passed down to me from my mother and our ancestors. The pain of my mother’s forgotten knowledge translates into a feeling of being “disembodied” as “all I ever wanted was to embrace the olive tree” that had been violently stripped as I was stripped from my roots. In addition, through the imagery of Palestinian land, I reimagine a spiritual connection to land that transcends the colonial rigidity of time, space, and place Through oral story, I recognize how “theory is personal” in [re]creating decolonial realities. My spoken work piece, like Nishnaabeg centering of story, has become a source of healing and envisioning a way out of cognitive imperialism. It is through “creation - visioning, making, and doing” that anti-colonial thought may “regenerate cultures, languages and nations” (Simpson, “Theorizing Resurgence” 290). Through the ongoing process of (re)discovering my history and story, I work to honour my mother and my ancestors and “refuse to succumb to centur[ies] of assimilation policies that have almost succeeded”, in Turtle Island, and my own ancestral lands. In my piece, I must learn the stories through “unearth[ing]” the words from the land (Abu Khreibeh). As a result, I have learned to re-center the land in epistemological practice. This is vital to understand resurgence efforts through (re)discovering story and the severed connection to land that is a sight of mutual struggle for both displaced Indigenous and Palestinian communities. I begin to answer the question “[h]ow can city dwellers [and displaced individuals] lead a good life that honours our ancestors?” (Pitawanakwat 167; hooks 1). I actively work to bridge the histories of Palestine and Turtle Island in my 66 | CultureSHOCK!

academic and community work. Through taking Arabic and Anishinabemowen classes, I attempt to reclaim the languages of both the land base I originate, and the one I reside on. In addition, through organizing community, educational actions with the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) group at Queen’s university, and INM Kingston, I am able to honour the promise made to my mother, myself and my ancestors. Although I am in a “place of exile”, that I will continuously work to learn “every tale, every legend, every tear that was shed… I will know.” For those displaced from their original land bases, story as resurgence, allows one to recreate and rediscover anticolonial epistemologies that translate into a continuous process of coming to know. This is embodied through land and story based Nishnaabeg theory. Although the epistemologies of Indigenous peoples, Palestinian and diasporic communities alike have been violently targeted by the inherently eliminatory settler colonial agendas, we must collectively work to deconstruct, and (re)imagine a spiritual, cognitive, physical, and emotional connection to land. As a result, for all those severed from their holistic roots of knowing “[s]tory [becomes] our resistance” against the assimilative processes of cognitive imperialism (Abu Khreibeh).

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Work Cited Abu Khreibeh, “Mama I don’t know”, 2018. Bang, Megan et al. “Muskrat Theories, Tobacco in the Streets and Living Chicago as Indigenous Land.”, Environmental Education Research, vol. 20, no. 1, 2014, pp. 37-55. Battiste, Marie. “The Legacy of Forced Assimilative Education for Indigenous Peoples” Decolonizing Education: Nourishing the Learning Spirit, Purich, 2003, pp. 23-33. Dhamoon, Rita Kaur. “A Feminist Approach to Decolonizing Anti-Racism: Re.” Political Research Quarterly, 64, no. 1 (2011): 230-243. Fanon, Frantz The Wretched of the Earth. Chapter 1: Concerning Violence, Penguin works, 1961. pp.1-45. Pappé, Ilan. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. 1st ed., Oxford One world, 2006. Pitawanakwat, Brock. “Bimaadzwin oodenaang: A Pathway to Urban Nishnaabe Resurgence.” Lighting the Eighth Fire: The Liberation, Resurgence and Protection of Indigenous Nations, Winnipeg, ARP, pp. 161-173. Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake and Edna Manitowabi. “Theorizing Resurgence from within Nishnaabeg Thought.” Centering Anishinaabeg Studies: Understanding the World Through Stories, Michigan State University Press and University of Manitoba Press, 2013, pp. 279- 296. Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. “Land as Pedagogy: Nishnaabeg Intelligence and Rebellious Transformation.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, vol. 3, no. 3, 2014, pp.1-25. Wolfe, Patrick. “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.” Journal of Genocidee Research, vol. 8, no. 4, 2006, pp. 387-409. doi 10.1080/14623520601056240.

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Black Excellence Rachael Quarcoo

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editor’s note This year has been an incredible testament to growth after pain. Though the world continues to be a tumultuous environment, so many rich creative minds have amazed me during this season of Collective Reflections submissions. This section holds stories of healing, of reflecting back on pain, and the courage to express what is intimate and vulnerable. Throughout all of the pieces I encourage you to find strength in what is shared, because it is there in stereo. I would like to thank each and every contributor who make this publication what it is, without you we wouldn’t be able to share the diversity of perspectives we bring forward each year. Thank you for breaking the silence around mental health and mental illness on campus. I would also like to thank the incredible team that makes up the Collective Reflections Editor panel. Each editor cares deeply for the subject matter contained in this volume, and the labour is of love. Thank you to our editor in chief, Asantewa, who remains my dear friend. Without her this project wouldn’t be what it is today. This will be my last year as HeadsUp editor, and though I am incredibly proud of this publication, I will miss being a part of it greatly. There is a family bound in these pages, between them I see the progress we’ve made and what we will continue to do. Editing this publication has been an absolutely wonderful adventure, thank you for coming along with me. Keep sharing, inspiring, cultivating empathy, and most importantly keep your head up! All my love, Morgan Sterling

Dissociative Depersonalization

Ashlyn Fieldhouse Heads Up | 71

Untitled Lee-Ann Taras

daughter touches your wound with timid gentle hands this is where you are your most vulnerable & shy swabbing & soothing composing our shared intimacy a simple act of love an incision with red swollen edges patiently waiting to become a scar the entrance of your raging battle leading to your slowly beating heart

72 | Heads Up


Jordana Waserman

Heads Up | 73

Not Enough Aiman Faheem

It wasn’t the skin On your body That would bleed When you brought Knives close To heal pain It wasn’t the lungs In your body That would suffocate When you brought Cigarettes close To heal pain It was me I would bleed I would suffocate In grief of not giving you Enough To replace your Addictions It was my fault And that’s why my skin Was covered in cuts And my lungs were filled With tar

74 | Heads Up

It’s Inevitable i.t.a.

Each day that I wait terrified of what’s to come will it be me next?

Heads Up | 75

Expanses of the Mind

Jordana Waserman

76 | Heads Up

Remembering Spring 2017 Lee-Ann Taras after lying awake witnessing the bitter moon night bleeds into night a gradual dwindling of sleep, time, mind, then self I go stark raving mad this time no going gently through the fire storm this crazy whirlwind engulfs me swift, brutal & without mercy I’m speeding up I’m speeding up speaking in rhymes perceiving patterns in love with repetition walking in the land of nonsense arms& legs thrashing hands clasp at the doorway between home & the mad house the white van comes the only grace no red lights or sirens

Heads Up | 77

howling outrage, sorrow & bewilderment what brought me here, to this place? ah, my lunacy, my disordered warrior the writhing snakes & grinning demons I held out my hand & befriended them all on this bed among these walls memory muddies until there’s nothing there at all blackness, black-out the body’s kindness to itself weaving down the path to the sane cutting feet on stones of mistrust & bad behaviour I’m labelled a difficult patient of a ward brimming with bad asses get you to the back of the line girl stand in the corner of the class toe the line they are watching scribbling notes in their little black notebook they are listening to my words that echo they are watching everything here is a test they are watching

78 | Heads Up

week after week passes there again is that bitter moon wooing me to waver & fall down through the cracks of my own madness before I cut my feet on the stones but here, I tiptoe around these tricky crevices step by tenuous step my pace steadies my back eases & straightens my head rises I’m on the other side what brought me here, to this place? ah, my resilience my rough rock strength like my mother’s though she was never locked in this prickly blood rose garden I smile & weave a crown from the blood red roses carefully thwarting the thorns

Heads Up | 79

motivation i Adobea Nkuah

80 | Heads Up

motivation ii

Adobea Nkuah

Heads Up | 81

The Interview Anonymous i. New Hire I have been brokering peace with time tending her gardens in exchange for shelter. I was told to come home how frightening! It’s as much my domain now as it was once hers. Here, I do good work and feel good things. A bit about weeding: you push it all outwards and upwards or god forbid the roots will make you honest and you may soon burn love away. And what then?

82 | Heads Up

ii. Professionalism i think i prefer a hollow face to keeping my head hung low certain no one watches nor cares for that which i keep tethered and sedate after all, who can see those teeth and the paw prints of my mind the claws i’ve worked so hard to keep dull wild fear keeps me rolling from the summer hills and along the way i greet that caged and ragged coat lodged inside, night black and when i seize up why does it have to be here where i can feel those mighty legs leap out and scratch my feet bloody where i can see everything except my hands pressing forward grasping for recognition in the fog of tomorrow

Heads Up | 83

iii. Night Shift these are the most wretched hours when the seed of an old day rots within my skull the prognosis: eyes in my chest vigilant in their shadow projections conducting their own dread choir coating my insides with phantom pains, wounds unclotted the soul of the drumbeats are the hidden wars and the fervent search for some truth the prescription: fool that i am i want these cracks sealed and ushered into peace fool that i am done with disappointment my most faithful partner fool that i am i’d tear every nerve out if i could and with my hunger ii keep swallowing the sun waiting for a brighter day 84 | Heads Up

iv. Menagerie A voice runs red so curiously arid with dissatisfaction then there’s that panther pacing up and down my ribs so restless and so thirsty. I marvel: how does sinew and blood and bone hold together while ravaged by inner storms? I think: how can i turn away when i see blindly all manner of beings spectral and unfamiliar incongruous with my own knowledge? Rhetorical: is it so wrong to expect love from an ancient being and hope to be held where there is no heart? I study: to find what must be fed and what I can burn away.

Heads Up | 85

v. Organ Drive at the parting place i must ask: sun bright, sun rising do you know how long i have held you here? at this dry hour my eyes they speak in staccato, you see the world bloats around us if this robs you of being present then pay no mind to your soul tendons contracting and throbbing in beating time signature. wholly natural, all equivalent. do not breathe of waste to me the skins, throw them to the dogs and please riffle through the veins here you and me, we have come to know creatures so grateful in their greed. those who luxuriate over our ribs and wrung fingers dust to them. to their enterprise and spite. for we shall sort out this beginning you will be here, won’t you? while they fall away massless to the end at this parting place i say: lung to me, rung to me if you too wish to devour hearts then here is your skeleton key

86 | Heads Up

Heads Up | 87

volume VIII

editor’s note O

utWrite is on its fifteenth year of publication. This section is a celebration of the unique identities within the LGBTQ+ community, and a voice in the darkness for the difficulties we face every day by just being ourselves.

Will this make a difference in the vastness of this world? I like to think so. But more importantly, OutWrite just might make a difference for you.

It can feel lonely and terrifying in this current world, where LGBTQ+ individuals are being harmed, talked over, made fun of, or ignored completely. This section strives to share the joy of being ourselves with the greater world.

Editor of OutWrite 2018-2019

Take care of each other. Vivian Yao

Write your own Narrative Alyssa Vernon

OutWrite | 89

Love Poem 1 Emma McCallum


’m worried I met her too early Or maybe very very late? But she tells me she loves me at the right times, and when she said it the first time it was on her time Right on time She wants to kiss me in the rain, in the lake, the pond, the ocean, the shower, the puddle She wants to steal me - countryside steal me away - from the city I thought I would want so much more before she reminded me there was another option Steal me away - for a kiss, the kind long and big enough to scare us a little, gives us away, the ones we deserve, that make us so desperately hope we aren’t in the wrong place at the wrong time She’s stolen me from what I thought would be, girl crying wolf, shrinking down, faking fine, quiet girl enough to be a man’s wife (and nothing else) Before she reminded me there was another option Right on time This girl She’s gonna leave on a plane On her own time, I on mine And we’ll watch the clock and we will wonder what will happen next And we won’t know till we know And I don’t know what happens after that

90 | OutWrite

Categorize Lin Lune

OutWrite | 91

Untitled Emily Townshend Here are my submissions to the publication. They were taken in Bermuda on a trip in July of 2018. I’ve been thinking about it a lot as I draw close to graduation, especially because there was something incredibly freeing about being on a ship where basically one knows you or will see you again, that allows you to be your truest self for a while. I hope I find a job with the same freedom.

92 | OutWrite

OutWrite | 93

Untitled Finn Huang

Dear me, This is a heart to heart, what can I expect I shouldnt have posted that or anything else I should have hid it better but she was so good for us our health our happiness our hatred was the same she was also our downfall we were almost hers true we didnt deserve this she doesnt either the way it happened funny the way I wanted to come out before it was such a weight on us ironic how it came to be that we, ended up coming out indirectly? anyways I miss her we just had to fuck up it would be so much easier if we werent gay and trans shut up, id rather die then die dont you see, I’m living to beat them how I’m going to succeed in life 94 | OutWrite

I’m playing this time for good I’m going to start shaping up start to reeally get in gear and kick it up I’m going to LIVE and LOVE and LAST last for as long as I need to I will perservere and show them whos better in the end I will chase the very sun it wont have to end in tragedy all my life I’ve been told I can’t be these things I can’t do these things I can’t want these things and yet here I am I love to hate to be buried I love to hate to be broken I love to love I love myself and most of all I love anyone that suffers they wont have to suffer anymore not while I can make a difference in this forsaken world I’m going to live and to love and to win get ready cause here I am -Sincerely, one of the persistent ones. OutWrite | 95

Confession Emma McCallum

I find comfort and shame in the eyes of men Turns my inside out Validates my desirability Makes me feel like a woman I appropriate lipstick the shades of roses To signpost my femininity A lighthouse for the male gaze A way to acknowledge that desire back I take inventory of all the things and ways and choices i will make No more queer than I look straight No more straight than I am queer

96 | OutWrite

Old Neighbourhood Danny McLaren

Visiting home is old women who flinch When blue hair boards the bus. Who proceed to watch, Longer than I’d like, but long enough For me to smile Before I shaved my head, they’d smile back. At home, they like well-folded t-shirts and closet doors pulled shut, Walls painted pink or blue, Beds made with hospital corners every morning. I kept my room like that for a while, But the clutter under my bed crawled out eventually. Now it’s secrets strewn across my floor like extra pushpins, Poster tubes and suitcases and an easel Trip me, prick the soles of my feet when I try to leave my bed Cover my carpet and mark up yellow walls Because pink or blue was never a choice I could make.

OutWrite | 97

volume VII

editor’s note Pravieena Gnanakumar

Working on Collective Reflections: Queen’s Feminist Review this year has been an amazing experience. In addition to meeting and working with incredible creatives, I also have a newfound appreciation for collections of writings; there is an art behind understanding how different voices work with and support one another. After every interaction with beautiful writings such as the ones featured in this publication, I think, “… there is no way it could get any better than this.” And I am proven wrong every single time. I am continuously inspired by the work of others—inspired to create, listen, and share. I can confidently say that the work featured in Queen’s Feminist Review has been created with love and care. This collection has been put together in the hopes that we share with one another and listen to each other. They work together to create a new lens which I aim to use now and onwards, in order to view the world from a fresh standpoint. Undoubtedly, the voices in QFR are loud, innovative, and refuse to hold back. To all our readers, I hope the stories shared here empower you to reflect on, identify, and subsequently, make change with your artistic voice. Your art is boundless, and so is your voice. - Pravieena Gnanakumar, QFR Section Editor

Love city

Alyssa Vernon

Queen’s Feminist Review | 99

a toast Nika Elmi

brave soul tonight you will write no songs of how they throw pebbles at your fortress of feathers of how your worth fell in the gutter but landed on a bed of dandelions growing on to greener pastures this body this body will battle it will carry you to every edge so here’s a toast to being here, still, every time for being bruised, but still unblemished for turning bloodshed to beauty there is no being that can break an apple tree rooted so deep into the ground watered by matriarchs made of gold woven by the hands of women who have been silenced and beaten with their own bruises shaped like clouds so when the diamonds beneath your soft skin are confused for dust and they try and try to paint you with tainted egg whites in doubt and shame you throw your chin up and laugh how unoriginal there will be more of these minds who confuse you ruin songs for you but we will be ready, every time 100 | Queen’s Feminist Review

chicken soup Pamoda Wijekoon

girls aren’t here to feed your ego, doling out donated smiles against crowded countertop soup kitchens, a charity of self defense. we starve out hunger young and calculate concessions against comebacks, tugging skirts and shirts, like apologies for existence. when I talked to boys at the pool I was more piece than person. ruthless, carving my humanity back out from my ribs to earn my personhood past breaststroke. words start beating bones broken at thirteen and by fourteen sallow cheeks in the bathroom mirror feel more familiar than flower petals or freedom, sixteen and watching little sisters’ hands tug hems like hiding and knowing so that at nineteen, scorn only bears one name. young girls are ravenous. eating deadly sins like lifesavers because pride can’t kill like hunger, and no sacrifice starves like smiles

Queen’s Feminist Review | 101


Alyssa Vernon

102 | Queen’s Feminist Review

Drowning Sara N. Cecile

When I think about it It makes me sick To my stomach And my mind it aches for All the times I break Your heart. But it’s me. I’m not perfect, In fact I’m not even good. I may even be worthless. There’s darkness inside me, And I’m trying, But I really wish you would Be happy with me, I think you wish you were. But I’m drowning in Disappointment, I’m failing. I’m letting you down. It makes it easy When I’m not around. I remove myself from situations I can only make worse. It’s the curse That I’m living. And I’m trying, I’m giving. But I’m failing. I’m letting you down.

Queen’s Feminist Review | 103

Old Rocking Chair Aiman Faheem I sit here in my old rocking chair Caressing my hands on its arms Our journey of loyalty traces back To times long before I formed wrinkles in my skin And it cracks in its wood I sit here in my old rocking chair With my visionless eyes Helplessly gazing at the bright full moon As it manages to accompany me again And once more shutting these eyes Was a useless battle For the constellations crowded on my roof Would never let me rest I sit here in my old rocking chair Waiting for age to do What is due in course Yet, death wouldn’t pity me It asked more of me Before its arrival

104 | Queen’s Feminist Review

I sit here in my old rocking chair Recalling that night When they abused my body Leaving deadly footprints in my fragile soul Diminishing any strength for finding contentment From this land Where disguised inhumane, barbaric beasts crawl freely I sit here in my old rocking chair Single handedly protesting Yet their untreatable sickness never lessens They carry on mixing their blood In the progeny of innocent daughters Unfit to be young mothers I sit here in my old rocking chair Swaying back and forth In the uncomforting sight of witnessing the day drown into the sea And the darkness of the night approach Eras pass, yet my long for the dawn That will bring with it rays of morality Never ends

Queen’s Feminist Review | 105

Excerpts from

Gulîstan, Land of Roses:

A Critical Documentary Analysis Sydney Wade The eye-opening documentary titled Gulîstan, Land of Roses directed by Zaynê Akyol was released in 2016. Gulîstan, Land of Roses takes its viewer on a unique journey alongside a group of brave female Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters, who have given up their regular lives to move into isolation in the mountains and desert to defend their country against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This documentary analysis will analyze the PKK fighters from Gulîstan, Land of Roses through a feminist lens, hypothesizing that these female fighters in general adopt an alternate approach to armed conflict, and that their actions challenge traditional gender roles as a social construct.

‘Gulîstan’ is an ancient Kurdish word… “frequently associated with wisdom. It is also a name… women with this name should embody traits such as charm, passion, pleasantness, and intelligence.

106 | Queen’s Feminist Review

The term ‘Gulîstan’ is an ancient Kurdish word that originated in influential Persian literature as a term frequently associated with wisdom. It is also a name - one PKK fighter mentions that her little sister is named Gulîstan. Women with this name should embody traits such as charm, passion, pleasantness, and intelligence. The female PKK fighters personify these characteristics through their perception of armed conflict. In Gulîstan, Land of Roses the audience is never exposed to physical contact between the female PKK fighters and ISIS. This is unexpected for two reasons, the first being simply because it is a documentary about war so action is commonly expected. The second reason being that throughout the entire film the audience is given the sense that they should be waiting for a grand finale, a deep sense of anticipation that is ultimately unfulfilled. This at first makes the documentary seem anticlimactic, but upon further reflection exhibits the true message of the film. That message being that perhaps women take a more ‘Gulîstan’ approach to war, which starkly contrasts the way that war is typically portrayed.

exist to serve ideology, moral “andWeapons philosophy... That’s why the weapon of PKK is so powerful...” The PKK women fights demonstrated a deep respect for weapons. They all showed great devotion and remarkable care towards their weapons, more specifically, their guns. At the start of the documentary the soldiers describe where their own gun originated from and why they were named. One soldier had named hers “Patience”, because holding it provided her with the patience she requires. This shows a deeper meaning that the PKK female fighters bring to armed conflict, a meaning that goes beyond merely violence and destruction. A direct quote from the film articulates this notion Queen’s Feminist Review | 107

well, “Weapons exist to serve ideology, moral and philosophy... That’s why the weapon of PKK is so powerful... it is training that matter above all else. Those who aren’t interested in training but only the war, have misunderstood the PKK.” This quote embodies feminist values, because war is a highly masculinized concept, but the PKK women fighters are working to alter this common misconception. With a gendered lens, it becomes exceedingly noticeable how women being involved in armed conflict can broaden the knowledge that people have about how to approach war and establish alternative or deeper meanings to war. In order to join the war against ISIS the PKK women fighters had to essentially trade in their old lives for a life dedicated to a greater cause. A soldier named Rojen described the decision to join as a very difficult choice because at the young age of 21 she had to leave her family, not knowing if she would ever be reunited with them again. PKK women fighters making the choice to sacrifice their original lives challenge traditional gender roles. One woman clearly expresses this thought by saying: “Every married woman lives a life dedicated to slavery... you can’t get away. No one should accept that.”

… perhaps women take a more ‘Gulîstan’ “approach to war, which starkly contrasts the way that war is typically portrayed.”

108 | Queen’s Feminist Review

The daily activities PKK women take part in similarly challenge gender norms. The women have to participate in extensive physical training, which is not typically associated with customary female roles. The women debate who would be capable of picking up an activated bomb and willing to throw it away. Most significantly, at a meeting of the male and female PKK one confident girl was quick to rise to the occasion and effectively contribute her input to the conversation in front of everyone. This instance is quite extraordinary because often in groups with males women can feel inferior, which makes assertive action such as this exceptionally difficult. Nonetheless, in all of these situations, these bold PKK female fighters display their individual and collective sense of strength and fearlessness.

Works Cited Gulîstan, Land of Roses. Directed by Zaynê Akyol. 2016. “Meaning of Name Gulistan.” First Name “What Does Gulistan Mean.” What Does Pangat Mean - Definition of Pangat - Word Finder.

Queen’s Feminist Review | 109

How could you let this happen? i.t.a.

What were you wearing? Why would you be out that late? You let this happen.

110 | Queen’s Feminist Review

A Community Protected


Blue on a jacket, community protected. But will you believe it’s dark walking home. Alert; keys between fingers Followed by shadows. I called 911 And yet no one comes.

Queen’s Feminist Review | 111

Perceptions Aiman Faheem

112 | Queen’s Feminist Review

Excerpts from

Taking a Seat:

Addressing the Chronic Underrepresentation of Women in Canadian Politics Steven Patterson In 2018, Canada marked the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.1 This moment of celebration was overshadowed by the fact that women remain significantly underrepresented in our democratic institutions. According to the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing, “women have been, and remain, greatly underrepresented among those... elected to the House of Commons.”4 The Royal Commission on the Status of Women found that between 1921 and 1968, women made up just 0.8% of all elected Members of Parliament.5 Table 1 – which uses data from the 11 federal elections held in the past 35 years – confirms that significant underrepresentation persists to this day. Table 2 indicates that the proportion of women is steadily increasing, however at the current rate it could take up to 90 years to attain gender parity in Parliament.6 It is helpful to consider the Canadian case from a comparative perspective.7 Overall, Canada places 60th for female representation among the 193 countries ranked by the Inter-Parliamentary Union…8 Canada also performs poorly when compared to other developed countries. Queen’s Feminist Review | 113

Table 1 – Women’s Representation in Parliament 1980-2015 Election Year

Women Elected

Female Representation (%)


































Source: CBC News Report, “50% population, 25% representation. Why the parliamentary gender gap?”; indirectly, Library of Parliament, Women Candidates in General Elections 1921 to Date

“ In 2018, Canada marked the 100th

anniversary of women’s suffrage. This moment of celebration was overshadowed by the fact that women remain significantly underrepresented in our democratic institutions… underrepresentation persists to this day.

Are Women Candidates Less Successful? There is little evidence that female candidates perform significantly worse than male candidates.9 10 For example, women running in the 2011 election had a 17% success rate, compared to 20% for the 114 | Queen’s Feminist Review

In short, when women run, “they can and do win.” men.11 Using the 2006 election as a case study, Table 4 shows that the percent of female candidates nominated by each party closely matches the proportion elected. While there is some evidence of differential treatment, the research suggests that voters are “not actively discriminating against women candidates” in a way that harms their electoral prospects.12 13 In short, when women run, they can and do win. Table 4 – Percentage of Female Candidates Nominated and Elected in 2006 Political Party

Female Candidates Nominated (%)

Female Candidates Among Elected MPs (%)

Bloc Quebecois












Source: Equal Voice. “Women in Canadian Politics”. I reproduced, in part, the table on page 4.

Do Women Participate? Since women are equally successful as candidates, this suggests that the primary cause of underrepresentation is that there are fewer women running for office. The Royal Commission on the Status of Women found that from 1921 to 1968, women comprised just 2.4% of nominated candidates.14 Table 5 shows that this is also the case for recent elections. Over the past 35 years, women only made up 22.7% of all political candidates.15 The lack of women candidates is well established and an important source of the gender disparity in Parliament. This Queen’s Feminist Review | 115

… the primary cause of “underrepresentation is that there are fewer women running for office.” lack of participation can be explained using the “demand and supply framework”.16 Supply relates to the behavior of women in deciding whether or not to enter politics.17 For example, women may be reluctant to run for office because of internalized gender norms and a lack of a political network.18 Demand relates to the behavior of political parties in recruiting and supporting female candidates.19 The tendency to nominate male candidates is in part a result of their perception as the safer candidates which are most likely “to maximize… [the party’s]…chances of success”. 16 There is evidence that both factors contribute to the low number of women candidates. Policy Recommendations Increasing the Supply (1) Introduce universal childcare. For many families, women are still the primary caregivers. Thus, the high cost of child care “imposes an unequal burden on women seeking elected office.”21 This financial barrier can also deter political aspirations by limiting opportunities for developing political networks.22 Increasing the Demand (2) Introduce legislation which financially incentivizes political parties to nominate female candidates. Currently, any measures taken by parties to recruit more women are voluntary.23 Canada could join the more than 100 countries which have adopted a formal mechanism to increase the number of women elected.24 116 | Queen’s Feminist Review

(3) Reform the first-past-the-post electoral system. The competitive “winner-takes-all nature” of the current system contributes to the reluctance of political parties to field women candidates.25 There is evidence showing that proportional systems are positively correlated with the percentage of women elected.26 The purpose of this section was not to provide an exhaustive policy analysis. These are but three of many potential solutions to the issue of underrepresentation. The government should consider the advantages and disadvantages of each before proceeding. The scope of a debate on electoral reform, for example, will of course not be limited to its utility at promoting women in politics. A healthy debate will consider all elements of these policy recommendations. Conclusion Women have been and continue to be chronically underrepresented in Canadian political institutions. The primary cause of this underrepresentation is a lack of women running for office. However, much progress has been made. The Royal Commission on the Status of Women noted that the House of Commons once debated women’s reproductive rights with only one woman and 263 men.27 Today, a historic 88 women sit in Parliament, and we have the first gender balanced cabinet.28 Canadians want more women in politics, and the policy solutions that I propose could help us get there a little bit faster.29 30

References 1 Historica Canada. n.d. Women’s Suffrage in Canada - Education Guide. Education Guide, Historica Canada. 2 CBC News. 2015. “50% population, 25% representation. riWhy the parliamentary gender gap?” October 13. Accessed June 2018. 3 Erin Virgint. 2016. Electoral Systems and Women’s Representation. Background Paper, Library oof Parliament. html#txt14. 4 Royal Commission on Reform and Party Financing. 1991. Reforming Electoral Democracy: Final Report . Royal Commission , Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 8. Queen’s Feminist Review | 117

5 Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada. 1970. Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada. Royal Commission, Ottawa: Privy Council, 340. 6 Equal Voice. 2016. “Equal Voice Launches Youth Engagement Strategy to Help Achieve Gender Parity in House of Commons.” Equal Voice Website. June 22. Accessed June 2018. 7 See Brenda O’Neill. 2015. “Unpacking Gender’s Role in Political Representation in Canada.” Canadian Parliamentary Review 38 (2), 22. 8 Inter-Parliamentary Union. 2018. “Women in National Parliaments.” IPU Website. June 1. Accessed June 2018. 9 Brenda O’Neill. “Unpacking Gender’s Role in Political Representation in Canada.”, 23-24. 10 Julie Cool. 2011. Women in Parliament. Background Paper, Library of Parliament, 5. 11 Ibid. 12 Brenda O’Neill. “Unpacking Gender’s Role in Political Representation in Canada.”, 23-24. 13 Julie Cool. 2011. Women in Parliament, 5. 14 Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada. 1970. Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, 340. 15 Calculated using data on Table 5. a16 Brenda O’Neill. “Unpacking Gender’s Role in Political Representation in Canada.”, 24. 17 Ibid., 26-27. 18 Also, for discussion, see Ibid., 27. 19 Ibid., 25. 20 Erin Virgint. 2016. Electoral Systems and Women’s Representation. Background Paper, Library of Parliament. html#txt14., 3. 21 Royal Commission on Reform and Party Financing. 1991. Reforming Electoral Democracy: Final Report, 108. 22 Brenda O’Neill. “Unpacking Gender’s Role in Political Representation in Canada.”, 27. 23 Erin Virgint. Electoral Systems and Women’s Representation, 3. 24 Brenda O’Neill. “Unpacking Gender’s Role in Political Representation in Canada.”, 25 Erin Virgint. Electoral Systems and Women’s Representation, 3. 26 Ibid., 5-6. 27 Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada. Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, 355. 28 Equal Voice. n.d. “Fundamental Facts, The Facts, Ma’am - Facts about women in politics in Canada.” Equal Voice Website. Accessed 2018 June. 29 Equal Voice. n.d. “Women in Canadian Politics.” Backgrounder. https://www.equalvoice. ca/pdf/264_461e5a8e632ed.pdf, 4. 30 Canadian Research and Information Canada. Canadians Want More Women in Elected Office. New Release <full text not accessible>

118 | Queen’s Feminist Review

Bibliography Bank for International Settlements (BIS). n.d. G10. Accessed 2018 June. Canadian Research and Information Canada. Canadians Want More Women in Elected Office. New Release <full text not accessible> CBC News. 2015. “50% population, 25% representation. Why the parliamentary gender gap?” October 13. Accessed June 2018. Cool, Julie. 2011. Women in Parliament. Background Paper, Library of Parliament. Elections Canada. (2000, March). Thirty-sixth General Election 1997: Official Voting Results: Synopsis. Retrieved from Elections Canada Website: aspx?section=res&dir=rep/off/dec3097&document=synopsis03&lang =e Elections Canada. (2018, March 14). Past elections. Retrieved from Elections Canada Website: Equal Voice. 2016. “Equal Voice Launches Youth Engagement Strategy to Help Achieve Gender Parity in House of Commons.” Equal Voice Website. June 22. Accessed June 2018. Equal Voice. n.d. “Fundamental Facts, The Facts, Ma’am - Facts about women in politics in Canada.” Equal Voice Website. Accessed 2018 June. Equal Voice. n.d. “Women in Canadian Politics.” Backgrounder. pdf/264_461e5a8e632ed.pdf. Historica Canada. n.d. Women’s Suffrage in Canada - Education Guide. Education Guide, Historica Canada. Inter-Parliamentary Union. 2018. “Women in National Parliaments.” IPU Website. June 1. Accessed June 2018. Library of Parliament. n.d. “Women Candidates in General Elections - 1921 to Date.” Library of Parliament Website. Accessed June 2018. asp?Language=E&Search=WomenEl ection. O’Neill, Brenda. 2015. “Unpacking Gender’s Role in Political Representation in Canada.” Canadian Parliamentary Review 38 (2): 22-30. Royal Commission on Reform and Party Financing. 1991. Reforming Electoral Democracy: Final Report . Royal Commission , Minister of Supply and Services Canada. Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada. 1970. Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada. Royal Commission, Ottawa: Privy Council. Virgint, Erin. 2016. Electoral Systems and Women’s Representation. Background Paper, Library of Parliament.

Queen’s Feminist Review | 119

A Scar’s Tale Aiman Faheem

And all of a sudden The discussion changed From the excitement of my birth to How I was birthed They disputed a caesarian section Made me less of a child to her The shelter that nurtured me For nine months Was forgotten in nine seconds And what overruled Was the distance they dictated Between a mother and her newborn And every time she looked at The scar I left her She would say She felt me closest to her For babies born naturally Don’t leave marks of their coming On their mamas’ souls Like I did

120 | Queen’s Feminist Review


Brittany Giliforte

Queen’s Feminist Review | 121

Powder Nika Elmi

122 | Queen’s Feminist Review

too many poems written of how their lust felt white, powdery, waves crashed beneath her neck he spoke in floods tsunamis on their lips built wooden homes in his cold veins forest fires when she got too close light-headed and voiceless vocal chords wrapped around his pinky warm under his belly hamster in her wheel, she spun circles around a mirage in a barren desert he strung spoonfuls of empty in fairy lights around her wounds she lost her herself distracted by the lights grew tired of her shadow nothing will explain to you that she was bound to lose her mind she had to crack, not break to let the sludge out leaving her whole and smelling of hydrangeas

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