Recently, I had to find a female role model to share about at our Youth Feminist Association meeting. While I immediately thought of well-known women, including Malala Yousafzai, Emma Watson, Queen Noor, Jane Goodall, and Tavi Gevinson, I questioned why I didn’t also consider local women who empowered me. I came to the conclusion that, besides some of my close family members and friends, I just didn’t know that many inspirational people who lived in Vancouver, or even in British Columbia.
Shortly after, I remembered a book that I had bought at a local handmade sale; Hidden & Hard Work: Stories of Peacemaking in BC’s Lower Mainland. Edited by Matt Balcarras and Katie Gorrie, it features a number of inspirational individuals who have all contributed to peace in both local and global ways. I really enjoyed hearing stories about people who live in the same area as me, because I often had similar perspectives on the issues they talked about, and because I could see myself realistically connecting with them. I also loved the variety of work everyone was involved in, from reconciliation between the church and Canadian First Peoples, to fostering children. However, I did find the demographic to be mainly people of Caucasian descent, and being of mixed heritage myself, I would have liked to see more diversity in ethnic and cultural backgrounds. I would also be interested in learning more about the work people from other faith groups are doing, in terms of peacemaking and activism, as Hidden & Hard Work focuses on those who are Christians, with one man who is Muslim. Nevertheless, I appreciated that the editors focused on people, rather than organizations, since it added a more personal note to the interviews. Overall, the design and photography is beautiful, with vibrant colours and intimate images, and the message of hope and peace, especially near to where I live, is a welcoming change from the constant barrage of tragedy and conflict, and the disconnect between local and global activism. I only wish that I could hear even more stories like these.
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Our thoughts are with those in the midst of the fighting in Israel, as well as with the state of California and residents fleeing from the wildfires. We also keep in mind everyone who has been affected by conflict that hasn't reached the Western news sphere, or has been dismissed by those of us who are living in safety. 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.