Summary of Next Generation: Canadian Global Citizenship Conference Day 3 at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School – Vancouver School Board, by Mosaic Next Generation Team. 

As with our other conference days, Day 3 began with a land welcome by Kat Norris. Kat is a First Nations Coast Salish Elder, social justice activist, community leader, educator, and leads the Red Fox Drum and PowWow Dance Group. Kat has opened all our days sharing stories of her family, herself, her first hand experiences with residential schools, and the impacts of colonization on her community. Many of the students have begun to understand the importance of acknowledging unceded land and the lived experiences of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

Kat’s land acknowledgement was followed by our keynote guest speaker for the day, Jen Sungshine. Jen is a queer, Taiwanese artist-activist based on the traditional homelands of the Coast Salish nations. She facilitates with creativity and social justice media through her work at: Love Intersections, Our City of Colours, Out in Schools and The Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia. With Love Intersections, Jen has created a blog and video project dedicated to exploring intersectionality through the lens and language of love. She shared some of that body of work with the students, which beautifully intertwines the story of Amar, a queer deaf person of colour, with her own childhood experiences with her grandmother. She also talked about herself as a “bad Asian” challenging stereotypes of Asians. The students definitely resonated with her story of being a “bad Asian.” Many of them noted in their feedback that they loved learning about that term and that Jen “was really, really cool.”

There was high energy among the students following Jen’s talk as they left the auditorium to go into their core workshop for the day – Identity: Understanding Prejudice and Discrimination. In the workshop, students tackled the subjects of prejudice and discrimination through exploring their identity maps and learning about the staircase of oppression/empowerment. The students enjoyed the honest and vulnerable conversations that arose from this workshop. One student noted that they would have liked to even “delve deeper about discrimination and prevention.” Following the core workshop, students stayed in their classrooms to continue working on their community service projects which range from a welcome/get to know you lunch with Syrian refugee students to building connections with Chinese elders dealing with gentrification in the local Chinatown.

After a communal sushi lunch, students went into one of the following elective workshops:

  • Homophobia: Becoming an LGBTQ+ Ally
  • Recognizing Racism
  • Stopping Mental Health Stigma
  • Fresh off the boat: Immigration stories
  • Miss Representation: Framing Females in the Media

In the workshops, students “learned new words” and had “honest conversations.” Some of them even noted that the workshops were “too short” – wanting more time for discussions. In the “Homophobia: Becoming an LGBTQ+ Ally” workshop, students came away wanting to know how “LGBTQ+ people need more support and how to give it.” It seems like students are connecting with the material and with each other through their own stories.

At the closing plenary, we ended the day with a powerful sharing by Hadil, a young female Syrian refugee student. She shared a poem about peace that she had written about her experiences as a refugee seeking peace. Hadil felt very surprised and emotionally impacted by the warm standing ovation she received from all of the Next Generation participating students. It was a very moving experience for all as the room filled with love and support for this young girl. She said that she would remember that moment for the rest of her life.

You can read Hadil’s poem here.