to other gen z and millennials;

to other gen z and millennials;

the noise, the grief, the terror

come sudden and aching—

take our breath, our thoughts, our senses away.

we don’t know how to stop faking

that we’re deaf, and have nothing to say.

 

and when the world is this loud,

isn’t it easier to keep quiet?

our voices would just get lost—

in the sea of cries,

             and crying,

                          and trying.

 

after all,

the figureheads close their eyes,

plug their ears, and

send their thoughts and prayers

in singsong unison sighs.

there’s only one side to the story:

a boy fulfilled one of his nation’s biggest fears—

there couldn’t possibly be any more layers.

 

the world is so raw and

we can’t bear to touch its gaping wounds.

all we can hear are screams.

we just can’t take it,

we want to scream—

but isn’t it easier to keep quiet?

 

we have to breathe, because

we owe them this—

we can’t close our eyes,

plug our ears, or

send our thoughts and prayers

in singsong unison sighs.

we have to think about other sides to the story:

we have to look into the mirror,

and we need to show we care.

 

we have to listen.

                          we have to listen.

                                                    we have to listen.

we can’t surrender to the noise;

go quiet,

or go quietly.

we can’t go numb.

                                                    we have to feel,

                                                                                                        and we have to scream.

 

Starting in the first week of March, this poem, along with five others, will appear in a poetry series on Check Your Head's blog, entitled 'Journeys'.

• • •

Our thoughts are with those affected by the Florida school shooting, by the many other school shootings around the United States, and by the many acts of violence committed against youth around the world. We recognize, however, that thoughts aren't nearly enough, and we promise to take your stories into our hearts, and to use them to educate others and prevent further incidences like these from occurring. Knowing that gun control, as well as the eradication of stigma around mental illnesses are only two of the many steps necessary in order to achieve our goal of peace in schools, we pledge to do whatever we can to ensure that all of these steps are put into place, and we call others to work with us and do the same.

Racism Rooted in Canada

We’ve heard it from friends, politicians, and repeatedly from our own Prime Minister: Canada takes pride in its multiculturalism. However, this perpetuated reputation of multiculturalism, acceptance, and a “mosaic society” falls flat when we look at what occurred on August 20th, 2016, regarding the life of 22-year-old Colten Boushie. When Boushie and his friends found themselves on a road in Saskatchewan with a flat tire, they pulled over onto a nearby farm to seek help. They were subsequently shot at, and Colten was killed. Gerald Stanley, the owner of the farm, is now being charged with second-degree murder, to which he pleads not guilty. Stanley claims that he did not mean to pull the trigger, and that it was accidental. The general consensus of the situation is that this is a telltale sign of racism in Canada, as Boushie was a Cree man who was killed for no apparent reason other than his ethnicity. During the recent trial, fourteen challenges were allowed, and the defence used these challenges on every single Indigenous juror. This resulted in an all-white jury, much to the dismay of Boushie’s family, and many Canadians.

Saskatchewan, being a rural part of Canada, is quite used to seeing racism daily. According to polling done in 2015, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are the most racist provinces of Canada by a considerably large margin. As a Canadian living in Vancouver, I am fortunate enough to not have much experience with racism in my region. However, this doesn’t mean that I can automatically write our country off as an accepting and welcoming place. We have flaws that are so incredibly ingrained in our society, and it begins with the lack of respect for our Indigenous populations. According to the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migrations, a slim six per cent of people within the two provinces mentioned previously would consider Aboriginal peoples to be “very trustworthy”, and one in three people believe that the racial stereotypes surrounding these group are accurate (Smith; GlobalNews.ca).

The key to the eradication of racism in rural areas, such as that which exists within Saskatchewan and Manitoba, is education on Canada’s colonial history and the treaty partnerships between the government and First Nations peoples. These concepts must be introduced at a young age in order to foster an understanding and respectful relationship with Indigenous populations. The perpetuated stereotypes regarding Indigenous peoples are a byproduct of inevitable Eurocentric views that have remained as time has gone by. As a country of immigrants, it’s crucial that we are able to understand and recognize that we have not only taken this land from the people who had it first, but that in the process, immigrants have also killed Indigenous populations, taken advantage of them, and discriminated against them heavily. The reality of our country is that it is tainted with social inequalities and injustices, much like any other country in the world. It is only respect, education, understanding, and recognition that has the ability to change it.

Sources

Friesen, Joe. “Family Upset as Jury Selected for Colten Boushie Trial.” The Globe and Mail, The Globe and Mail, 29 Jan. 2018, www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/familys-hopes-dashed-as-majority-white-jury-selected-for-boushie-murder-trial/article37784480/.

Friesen, Joe. “Trial Begins for Death of Colten Boushie, a Killing That Exposed Racial Divide in Saskatchewan.” The Globe and Mail, The Globe and Mail, 29 Jan. 2018, www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/trial-begins-for-death-of-colten-boushie-a-killing-that-exposed-racial-divide-in-saskatchewan/article37763962/.

News, CBC. “Treaty Education Key to Ending Racism in Sask., Says New Commissioner.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 2 Feb. 2018, www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/mary-culbertson-treaty-education-racism-saskatchewan-1.4516869.

Smith, Kim. “Bleak Picture Painted of Racism in Saskatchewan.” Global News, Global News, 24 Jan. 2015, globalnews.ca/news/1790493/1790493/.

• • •

Our thoughts are with those who are continually impacted by prejudices and stereotypes that wound, scar, and often take the lives of innocent people. Globally, people are being terrorized, assaulted, withheld, and broken simply because of the skin they're in, the religion they believe in, or how they choose to identify themselves. We hope that the leaders and citizens of countries affected will think, act and react with kindness, empathy and a sense of justice. We pledge to do the same when we are affected by events like these. We pledge to be mindful of events occurring, to be grateful for our safety, to share the stories of our fellow humans, and take action wherever we can to prevent further crises from occurring.

convergent journeys;

convergent ideas;

we published a piece called ‘It Starts With You’,

about how changing the world starts with changing ourselves, but

the more i look back on it, that’s not quite true―

you see, i can safely say that i’ve made some change

yet it’s that which has made me who i am today.

yes, i did things backwards … i mean, what’s new?

 

the thing is, when i look back on this past year,

i feel like, for the most part, i’m in the same place.

when i look closer, on the other hand,

i have taken steps to conquer my fears―

after all, i’m not there, i’m here, so

i can’t have just stayed where i feel safe.

 

we talked about having to forgive yourself,

speaking up on your own behalf,

before on others’, and now i can see that

in speaking up for others’, i can better forgive myself―

it’s important to be aware of our world, but we don’t have

to force ourselves into a certain format.

 

that’s the beauty of this mindset―

we all have different journeys,

different perspectives, and yet,

we’re able to work together, nonetheless,

try to feel what another feels, see what another sees.

and no one is worth more; no one is worth less.

This time last year, we published our first post, called 'An Open Letter to the Present and the Future'. Happy 1st birthday Hopelyfe!

• • •

Our thoughts are with citizens in Maldives, who are experiencing political and judiciary upheaval. We send love, strength and prayers for the inhabitants of the continually targeted areas in Syria, especially within the province of Idlib. We hope that the leaders of the countries involved will begin to think, act and react with kindness, empathy and a sense of justice going forward, and we pledge to do the same. We pledge to be mindful of events occurring, to be grateful for our safety, to share the stories of our fellow humans, and take action wherever we can to prevent further crises from occurring.

 

Just Think

As young people living in the ‘digital age’, or whichever other name adults often seem to come up with, I think most of us have had a lecture, or a conversation about Internet and social media safety. While it might get old after a while, we should all always be thinking about the idea behind it. Technology is really amazing, and I would be one of the first people to back that statement up. Not only is it convenient, but it offers so much potential to build connections. It’s when tech is used to disconnect, or when we start to hide behind it, that it starts becoming a problem.

For instance, I’ve been in situations when the easy thing way out is to communicate through a device. While this might be a good option in some situations, and is always a handy solution, typing something leaves lots to be desired. Apologizing in person, spending time just being quiet with someone else, or talking things through in a neutral environment often end up being better for everyone in the long run. Technology might offer a safer space for people (myself included) who are shy, but it’s so much easier to tell if the other person is listening, and whether or not they mean what they’re saying, when there isn’t an app between you.

Besides which, we’ve all seen the destruction and hate that can stem from just a few trolls. I’m all for offering my opinion online (obviously), but it’s when that opinion is so controversial in one’s daily life that it takes anonymous tweets to share it, that technological input is dangerous. Not to say that individuals whose everyday environments inhibit who they really are, can’t connect with others in the digital sphere, it’s just that like with anything, talking and posting and sharing online requires common sense. If you’re not sure whether something is appropriate to mention online, just ask someone in person about it. If they react negatively, then you have your answer. Likewise, before you post something, just think for a minute. If the content might be disrespectful to a particular person, or group of people, hold off. Even if it’s a joke, it’s always much harder to tell when you can’t see the other person’s face. If the content might offend someone (within reason), hold off.

On the other hand, don’t let this stop you from using social media, and the Internet. It’s so much easier to finalize plans, get people onboard for a project, or invite friends to an event with the help of technology. Please, share your creations, participate in discussion, support others, and foster community. Just do so with respect, and with a buffer of a few seconds. It could make all the difference.

• • •

Our thoughts are with the loved ones of the victims of the ambulance and military attacks in Kabul. We send love, strength and prayers for you in this time of loss. We also stand in solidarity with the Rohingya people, some of whom will be forced into repatriation back to Myanmar. We hope that the leaders of the countries involved will think, act and react with kindness, empathy and a sense of justice going forward, and we pledge to do the same. We pledge to be mindful of events occurring, to be grateful for our safety, to share the stories of our fellow humans, and take action wherever we can to prevent further crises from occurring.

Activism Happens Every Day

There’s been a fair amount of backlash over people who chose to not participate in the Women’s March or the related gatherings, and I think most of us are aware of this. The thing is, participating or not participating is everyone’s personal choice. If those of us who marched are respected by others, then we need to also respect those who make choices that aren’t in line with what we believe in. Those individuals who didn’t attend may have had reasons we aren’t aware of, or they may not agree with what they believe the Women’s March. While there might be misunderstandings around what the goals of the marches were, and as much as I see the beauty in empowering one another and raising awareness as a group, it’s important to practice respect, no matter what. This goes for everyone. I may not agree with your opinions, but if you respect me, and if you respect others, and if you respect your surroundings, then I will respect you.

In terms of the Women’s March, practicing what we preach every day of the year, has greater value than just attending one event. It’s very easy to forget the inspiration you felt, on the other three hundred and sixty four days of the year, and it’s easy to just start counting down until the next time you’ll feel motivated. While I don’t want to dismiss the experiences that so many people, including myself, feel when we come together as a whole, the real marching forward happens on those in-between days. The real work happens when you change the little things in your daily routine, and when you push yourself to keep moving, even when there aren’t hundreds of others who are with you, and the world isn’t always watching.

The amount of people that I have encountered, many of whom are disengaged, apathetic, or negative, has taught me that caring about something is better than caring about nothing at all. As long as we’re acting and reacting with the ground rule of respect, it will pay off a hundredfold when you stand up for what you believe in. By practicing that respect, you’re caring. By thinking critically and empathetically, about everything around you, you’re caring. By marching forward, on and after the third weekend in January, you’re caring. Activism isn’t just about shouting messages about a better world to everyone, and it doesn’t ever have to be about that. Activism is about respecting others, opening your mind, and caring. And doing so every, single day.

• • •

Our thoughts are with those in the Amazon whose homes and livelihoods will be affected by the roads going through the forest. We also send love, solidarity and support to those who have fought every single day of the best world in order to ensure a better world. We hope that everyone will think, act and react with kindness, empathy and a sense of justice going forward, and we pledge to do the same. We pledge to be mindful of events occurring, to be grateful for our safety, to share the stories of our fellow humans, and take action wherever we can to prevent further crises from occurring.