What is Pride?

Monday, June 21, 2021

During the month of June, many populations across the world are celebrating Pride month. Pride month is a time to celebrate and acknowledge people within the LGBTQ2SIA+ community. Pride did not originate with parades and celebrations. In fact, the first Pride was a riot (I.e. The Stonewall Riots). Unfortunately, in many places across the world today, homosexuality is still not welcome or celebrated. During Pride month, it is important to celebrate and honour those who have shaped the history of Pride and impacted the LGBTQ2SIA+ community, along with those within the community today who contribute greatly to the fight for LGBTQ2SIA+ rights.

Here are a few ways to celebrate and honour those around us in the LGBTQ2SIA+ community: 

  1. Research LGBTQ2SIA+ history and how we got to where we are today: 
    One key movement to be aware of isThe Stonewall Riots and the impact of people such as Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and many more. 
  2. Support local LGBTQ2SIA+ businesses: 
    Check out what these businesses have to offer and share these businesses with your friends.
  3. Listen to the voices of those in the LGBTQ2SIA+ community: 
    Read books by queer authors and chat with queer friends and family about how you can support them.

There are many more ways to celebrate and honour those around us in the LGBTQ2SIA+ community. Most importantly, we must acknowledge that homophobia still exists today and that we should always celebrate those around us in the LGBTQ2SIA+ community.

Coping with Anxiety in the Post-Pandemic world

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

As Ontario’s vaccine roll out continues to progress, our return to”normal life” is becoming more of a reality. Many of us are looking forward to the day where we can get back to seeing our friends and family in person and being in the presence of other people.

However, while the return to normal may be exciting, it is undeniable that some people may find it quite daunting. After being in lockdown on and off for nearly over a year, people may be feeling anxious about having to leave the house and returning to both campus and social life. 

In order to cope with some of the fears of returning to our pre-pandemic lives, it is important that we maintain our boundaries, give ourselves time for self-care and respect other people’s comfort zones. 

Here are some tips on coping with anxiety related to the post-pandemic world:

  1. Do not feel obligated to attend social gatherings if you still feel uncomfortable doing so.

    Soon enough, we will begin to see lockdown restrictions lifted and this may result in small social gatherings being permitted. However, just because these gatherings may be allowed, many people may still feel concerned about the risk of COVID19. People have different reasons for wanting to continue maintaining social distance, such as having a health condition or living with someone who does. Therefore it is important that we not only respect our own boundaries once restrictions are lifted, but respect others’ as well
  2. Continue to make time for self-care and express any of the traumatic experiences/feelings you may have had during the pandemic, if you find it helpful to do so

    The pandemic brought on many different struggles and challenges for every individual. Whether that be losing a job, being sick with COVID19, having a family member who was sick with COVID19, or just the everyday struggles that come with isolation and not being able to see friends/family. These experiences may have caused many of us to feel traumatized and those feelings may linger even after restrictions are lifted and we return to a somewhat normal life. If you find yourself experiencing any type of post-traumatic stress, it may help to express those feelings through different coping methods such as journaling, confiding in friends/family, or seeking out therapy.
  3. Remember not to judge yourself for whatever your physical or mental state was during the pandemic.

    Throughout the COVID19 pandemic, many people took to social media to showcase their “quarantine workout routines,” work from home spaces, or the new recipes they were trying out. This was often done with the intention of spreading positivity to others. However, some people may have seen these highlight reels and felt guilty for not being able to be as productive throughout the pandemic. It is important to remember that we all live under different circumstances and that there is no right or wrong reaction to the trauma that many people experienced from the pandemic. Do not feel as though you should compare your experiences to others’ and remember that you are valid and worthy no matter what your response to living life in isolation was.

Different Ways To Check In With Friends

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

During times of hardship and distress, it is important that we support and hold space for those who may be struggling. However, it is important that we do so while respecting people’s privacy and emotional well-being.

How do we check in with our friends in a way that is appropriate and respectful?

It is important that we both consider people’s capacity and boundaries as well as understand that someone may not wish to speak about how they are feeling and that is okay. 

Here are some suggestions on how to check in with your friends:

  1. “I’m thinking of you.” 
    This lets your friends know that they are on your mind 
  2. “I am sending my love” 
    This lets your friends know that they are loved
  3. “Sending positive thoughts your way.”
    This tells someone know that you are wishing them well 
  4. “What are three things that made you happy/sad/hopeful/joyful/etc. today?” 
    If someone wishes to confide in you, this question allows them to pick what they wish to share about their day and emotions.
  5. “I am here for you if you need someone to talk to.”
    This sends people the message that you are there for them but does not pressure them into sharing their thoughts or push their boundaries.

It is important to remember that if someone wishes to confide in you, sometimes what they may want is for you to just listen (see: Checking In On Your Friends: Why & How, Or, Being Better Friends). Giving unsolicited advice can sometimes be unhelpful or harmful. After listening to someone’s thoughts, it is best to ask if they would like your advice before offering it up. Another helpful way to support a friend in need is by suggesting potential resources that may be of help (ex. therapy).

Art & Disability

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The intersections of disability in art are important. The perspective of disabled artists matter and it is important that we understand the role that art plays in the lives of people with disabilities. We must uplift the voices of disabled artists and fight the systemic discrimination they may face within the creative industries. 

Art plays an important role in many of our lives. Most of us probably have a favourite artist and/or creator that we admire or even aspire to be like.  Many artists and creators may have even had a profound impact in our lives as we may often find ourselves resonating with the messages contained within their creations. 

It is important that every individual is able to see themselves represented in creative spaces. Think about some of your favourite artists and how your ability to relate to these artists may have made you feel supported and how their creations had a positive impact on you. Now think about how you might feel if you were unable to find artists within the creative industries that you felt you could resonate with.

Unfortunately, this can sometimes be the reality for the disabled community as sometimes, disabled artists are not afforded the same type of exposure that non-disabled artists are. This is why we need to make art a more accessible and inclusive space with a variety of different voices and experiences. 

An article published in canadianart (see: canadianart article)has provided  a list of facts that people need to know when it comes to art and disability. This list is as follows:

  1. Disabled people aren’t just audiences—they are artists and creators, too.
  2. Artists with disabilities need and deserve professional-development opportunities just as much as any other artist.
  3. Financial accessibility is as important as physical accessibility.
  4. Systemic change is needed to make a genuinely accessible artworld.
  5. Best practices for accessible curatorial work do exist—even though most galleries and museums don’t implement them consistently yet.
  6. Creative problem-solving is key to making art accessibility a reality.
  7. We can all learn from the growing national and international networks related to art and disability.
  8. It’s a good thing that interest in accessibility is surging, because we still have a long way to go.

The article has also included some art exhibitions to check out or research about in relation to art and disability. Some example include:

  • CRIPSiE (Collaborative Radically Integrated Performers Society) which took place in Edmonton and was a professional presentation of Crip Theatre with their piece Love in the Margins
  • “Sight Unseen,” the first major exhibition of work by international blind photographers that took place in Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights 

Remote Learning & Accessibility

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Remote learning has been a difficult adjustment for many students. However, while some may find remote learning to be detrimental to their academic success, others have found this style of learning to be more accessible and accommodating. 

Some of the benefits of online learning include: 

  • The ability to catch up on missed classes through watching recordings. 
  • Being able to attend class in a more comfortable environment (i.e. the home) 
  • Being able to mute, turn off video and take breaks when needed. 

Some of the drawbacks of online learning include: 

  • Not being able to access people face to face 
  • Zoom/Google Meets and other online school platforms not providing enough accessibility features 

These are just some of the ways online/remote learning has helped and also hindered students academic success.

Once the COVID19 Pandemic does eventually come to an end, and we return to our daily routines, this means that we will most likely return to in-person learning. With that being said, when the time does come to return to the classroom, educational institutions must consider the possibility of continuing to offer a remote option. 

Overall, there needs to be a better understanding of what accessible learning is and looks like for different people.

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