Hope in the Face of Hopelessness

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I’d rather we be accepted for who we are than to live something we’re not; but to do that, we have to accept ourselves. That is the only way to not only survive, but to thrive.

The loss of the Muslim family in London, Ontario left three generations of people no longer with us anymore, and an entire community disturbed. In addition, the recovery of around 1,000 unmarked graves of Indigenous children in Canada leaves a community even more deeply disturbed – the parallels of what happened historically and what is happening in today’s society is shockingly close to home.

Specifically targeting children wasn’t a coincidence. Children are the messengers of the next generation to pass on traditions, so targeting them shows more than wanting to strip them of their identity as much as it was to stop its transcendence.

Indigenous Canadians, along with every other minority, are fighting not only for recognition but for accountability, and for the work we’re doing, there hasn’t been an equal output. Everyone is different, so anyone should be able to fit in, but the families from minority groups were considered “too different”.

I’m Alisha, and I’m a youth activist in my community. I’m part of councils and initiatives in the province and country, and I recently shared my thoughts with CBC Live. Here are some ways you can initiate positive change. 

At this point, the real loss of society isn’t the injustice, it’s the countless people that won’t do anything about it. Silence signifies being complicit and that’s equally if not more damaging than hate. The world doesn’t run on laws, it runs on citizens, and I mean all of its citizens. Every citizen needs to be an ally and an advocate for change or we won’t get change. If this was just an issue for us minorities to solve, we wouldn’t be raising our voices.

While a child might need to study to understand politics, human rights are universal, and it comes from unity. Consistency is key, so your advocacy shouldn’t go down with your Instagram story. No one is too young to experience hate, but we’re also not too young to experience love, and we each carry so much love in our hearts that we owe it to our affected communities to show right now. Everyone could, anyone could, and everyone should pitch in. After each event, change was promised, but it doesn’t lie in your hands, it lies in your voice.

I know it’s scary, but don’t let your fears control your mind. Let your mind control your fears. Your mind knows we can create positive change because in a world where we can pretty much say anything, say we’re all equal and deserve to feel safe. 

This inspired me to create change, and you can too. Sign petitions, amplify voices, and attend workshops on how to become a better ally with minorities. If you reside in Canada, head to the National Council of Canadian Muslims’ Community Resources to find ways that you can play your part. Read books from authors who have lived through these experiences, buy from sellers who have lived through them as well, and support their foundations, and amplify their voices.

I’d rather we be accepted for who we are than to live something we’re not; but to do that, we have to accept ourselves. That is the only way to not only survive, but to thrive. The loss of identity is a price no one should have to pay. Even if we struggle, we must keep it.

People say this is politics, but it’s a matter of humanity, and we can’t debate about politics until we gain rights first. We’re just told to “take up space”, but it’s about time we define ourselves before engaging in. We may have our own challenges, but no one is impaired from making a difference.

This can’t only be done through performative activism as it only spreads awareness, so we shouldn’t only hold our accounts accountable, we should hold ourselves accountable. Getting a “no” is an even bigger reason to continue as you don’t want anyone else to ever have to face that, and while success isn’t final nor is failure fatal, progress is what matters.

Change is long overdue, and education is one of the only things that doesn’t have an end. For people like me, this is a call to continue being consistent, and to others, it’s a call to start. 

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