Human Library at UTSC


Human Library Project at UTSC — Mentorship & Community (Building)

 
A helpful friend, an auntie who guides, an experienced elder, the unexpected teacher—mentorship can come in many forms. But can it also push us towards a healthier approach to community building? Does it provide an opportunity to resist oppression and promote wellness among people holding marginalized identities?

This Human Library, the second edition offered at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, explores how mentorship can serve as a valuable tool and a source of inspiration that brings hope and change to communities. By hearing stories that have shaped identities, this Human Library will provide a platform for you to listen and explore questions like “who is a part of my story” and “how has my path been shaped by those around me?”

Human Book bios below.

This event is offered in partnership with Hart House, Scarborough Campus Student Union, UTSC Division of Student Life, and the UTSC Library.

What is the Human Library?

The Human Library Project is an event designed to create dialogue, promote understanding and reduce prejudice. A collection of “human stories” (widely varied in gender, cultural and religious backgrounds, and age) is offered on “loan” to visitors. Facilitated by Human Library Librarians, visitors “borrow” the human story for up to 25 minutes for an open conversation. The informal “Reader-Story Book” interaction is a positive and safe way to question and explore pre-conceived notions around race, class, gender, religion, sexuality, and share personal narratives in an open face-to-face dialogue. We hope to promote inclusion, and deepen the understanding of social justice, equity and diversity. This event is presented in collaboration with Hart House, the UTSC Division of Student Life, the Scarborough Campus Student Union, and the UTSC Library.

When: Tue., Nov. 27, 2018, 11 am-3 pm
Where: Rex’s Den, Student Centre, basement, UTSC
Cost: Free / Registration encouraged 

This event is in partnership with:


Human Books

Juanita Muise / Shared Gifts of Reconciliation
Dominik Parisien / A lot of my friends are dead (and why that’s okay)
Tele Kapkirwok / The Mentor With No Face
Leon Tsai / Giving Birth to Myself
Ana Silva / Home Away, Exile
Kathy Morgan / Growing Up Metis in the Big Smoke
Janine Berridge-Paul / Mixed Up Identity
Rua Wani / The Immigrant Muslim Trying to Make it in Hollywood
Tristan R. Whiston / Lost Time
Naeema Hassan / An intersectional battle between being Black and Muslim
Hamza Khan / Ideas Into Action
Dr. Cheryl Thompson / “The” Story Does Not Have to Be Your Story
Asma Khalil / Black Muslimah Rising: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in Graduate School



Juanita Muise / Shared Gifts of Reconciliation
Story available in: English

My spirit name is Shining Moon Woman, I’m Mi’kmaq, I’m First Nation “Shared Gifts”. My spirit name is Shining Moon Woman, I’m Mi’kmaq, and I’m First Nation and Acadian French. I grew up in a small town, in poverty, and was raised by a single mother who came from a family of 18 brothers and sisters. I didn’t have much in regards to material things but I was taught that every day was a gift and that the gifts I received were meant to be shared. I was raised by my community, mentored by my family, extended family, neighbours, friends, the animals, the plants, the ocean, the rivers…Today I live in Scarborough and I share my life story and many gifts with students, faculty and staff as a stepping stone to reconciliation. Understanding comes from knowledge and sharing of our shared stories and gifts. Miigwetch!

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Dominik Parisien / A lot of my friends are dead (and why that’s okay)
Twitter: @domparisien
Story available in: English and French

My disability first manifested as a teenager, around the same time I started working and volunteering with the elderly. I was spending much of my time in pain and in the hospital and I felt disconnected from the experiences of many people my age. It was my elderly friends at the retirement home who helped me better understand myself, and the ways our society engages with those marginalized due to ideas of autonomy, and health. I am now 31, and in my Human Story I will discuss how cross-generational friendships shaped me as a volunteer, a writer, and an editor, and how they drove me to focus on marginalized perspectives. I will also address how the fear of grief prevents so many of us from developing powerful, unique friendships, and the great mentoring potential those friendships have for people across age groups.

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Tele Kapkirwok / The Mentor With No Face
Instagram: @telesaurus_rex
Story available in: English and Swahili

I came to Canada from Kenya only 4 years ago in the dead of winter. January 2014. I stumbled across a slice of home in a mentorship program at UTSC when I saw a familiar Swahili word. Imani. Faith. Trust. I’ve been put in the unique place of being a mentor to several people and being mentored by many. I’ve found they all have something in common, faith and trust. Coming to a new place, I’ve learned and am still learning about the community and becoming a part of it. Mentoring and being mentored by the people in the community, sharing and finding surprising similarities, unexpected pieces of home. The feeling of almost stopping a stranger in the street you thought you knew ‘cause they had eyes just like your childhood best friend. Through all the people I’ve met, taught and learned from, I feel like I’m still being mentored by a community, an idea. The word imani has come to mean a lot to me these days.

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Leon Tsai / Giving Birth to Myself
Instagram: @blossom.leontsai
Story available in: English and Mandarin

A proud Taiwanese-immigrant and a plus-sized transgender woman; Leon is surviving each day with a family history of mental illness while combating various forms of discrimination, thriving within an institution and fighting a system that’s not built for her. Her blossoming is self-grown, self-mentored, and self-watered with her continuous learning and unlearning which she holds nothing but gratitude for.

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Ana Silva / Home Away, Exile
Story available in: English and Spanish

My new life at 19 away from home, friends, neighbours, country. Pregnant with my first child, I started to live in a state of solitude and sadly looking from outside the fence to the students my age at the school playground. For many years I was on the other side of the fence. New beginnings with three children at 23. Ten years without touching a brush nor drawing pencil, in 1983 I had the courage to enrol myself at O.C.A. No longer outside the fence.

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Kathy Morgan / Growing Up Metis in the Big Smoke
Story available in: English

I haven’t always had confidence in myself. I grew up in downtown Toronto in the sixties. Although we were taught to be proud of our heritage, and our family, we were Metis in a white, eastern European neighbourhood. I felt inferior, because our family did not look like my classmates. My parents were separated/divorced, we lived in an apartment above a furniture store, we saw our Dad on Sundays at 1:00 p.m. My friends lived in houses, had both parents at home, they seemed to be living in ideal conditions.

My childhood was different than my friends. We visited both sides of the family, my Dad’s Ontario farming family, and my Mother’s Metis family in Saskatchewan. They had ties to the Red River settlement. My Grandfather’s family name was Lajimodiere, his great grandparents were the first European family to settle and raise a family in Western Canada, present day Winnipeg. Their grandson, became the Leader of the Metis people, Louis Riel Jr. Growing up with this knowledge was conflicting, we should be proud of who we are and the accomplishments of our family, however, in school we were being taught that the Metis and Louis Riel Jr. in particular, was a traitor and was hung as an enemy of Canada.

This conflict caused me to lose interest in the school system at a young age, and attending a Catholic school did not help matters. The Catholic school system did not allow a child to explore their potential.

Needless to say, I dropped out of school, barely finishing grade 10. I worked at low paying jobs, as a filing clerk, sales staff, bartender, telephone answering services, until I met a person who would change my life.

She worked in the field of Child and Youth Services, and she worked in a group home. She would invite me to the group home to help out with the children on outings and tasks in the home. She saw something in me that I did not see.

She encouraged me to pursue my education and complete a program that would enable me to work with disadvantaged youth and use my life experience to connect with the children and youth in care.

I did not want to return to High School, so I checked out how to enrol in College as a mature student, one of the major requirements was to be twenty one years old. I was nineteen at the time, this meant I had a year-and-a-half to get myself ready to apply to a program that would be a new beginning for me.

I am sixty-one years old now, and I have retired from a career in Social Services, and have been exploring my family’s heritage, reconnecting to my Metis roots.

I am a member of “All our Relations” Drumming Circle. I am a leather worker, I create and sell traditional bead work pieces.

I remain friends with the person who inspired me to achieve things I never believed I could achieve, some 40 plus years later.

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Janine Berridge-Paul / Mixed Up Identity
Instagram: @mindfullycr3ated
Story available in: English

I grew up in a Caribbean household that often did not speak about race, identity and how to move through the world as a mixed race individual. In fact, my identity was something that I often struggled with until I met someone who I never thought would change my life. I met a mixed race identified woman who gave me an opportunity to explore who I was in a safe space. She gave me the opportunity to explore what identity formation looked like, she gave me the opportunity to cry, to hurt and to smile. She helped me figure out who I was and helped me feel comfortable and confident in my own skin. This was the first step in my identity journey.

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Rua Wani / The Immigrant Muslim Trying to Make it in Hollywood
Twitter: @RuaWani
Story available in: English, Urdu and Kashmiri

A few years ago, I followed my heart and creative inclinations and began working in television producing. I was elated to have gotten my foot in the door, but knew that I would need guidance and mentorship in order to grow and sustain. But in mainstream television, there was no one who looked like me or empathized with my experiences and perspectives. It is a very difficult industry to be in if you are from a marginalized community. But I strongly believe that it’s these voices that are imperative to bring in to the entertainment industry. And so I took on a mentorship role to young diverse people who were looking to get in to film and TV, passing on knowledge, resources and advice. I see mentorship of young, diverse voices as a key factor in bringing cultural change via the films and TV we consume.

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Tristan R. Whiston / Lost Time
Story available in: English

What happens when there is a gap in a mentorship? My father and I had a typical “father-son” relationship, and he was passing on to me what he knew about becoming a man. But, that all screeched to a halt when it became impossible to ignore the fact that I was becoming a “woman” – a small inconvenience that had been easily skirted over for my first 12 years. The gap lasted 25 years…25 years of awkward silences and missed opportunities. The gap ended almost immediately after I transitioned from “female” to “male” at age 37. After an initial “bad response” from my father to my transition, we quickly settled back into our roles as father and son, teacher and learner and, in the five years before he died, we more than made up for lost time.

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Naeema Hassan / An intersectional battle between being Black and Muslim
YouTube: @NAEEMAWRITES
Story available in: English and Somali
I’m a born and raised Scarborough resident and I self-identify myself as a Black Muslim woman (she/her). Throughout my life I’ve encountered multiple discriminatory experiences that have pushed me towards translating my pains into poetry. As a spoken word artist I explore Black Muslim challenges in a society that has grasped the dominant narrative of who Muslims are (i.e. arabs, Indians)- excluding Black Muslim experiences in spaces that dismiss our challenges. My art has allowed me to create safe spaces for Muslims that experience intersectional battles as I work to challenge a system that silences our voices and existence with resiliency and advocacy.

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Hamza Khan / Ideas Into Action
Instagram: @HamzaK
Story available in: English, Hindi and Urdu
None of what I’m about to tell you would’ve been possible without the wisdom and guidance of several mentors. I am a multi-award winning marketer & entrepreneur. I am the Managing Director of Student Life Network, Canada’s most comprehensive resource hub dedicated to helping and empowering millions of students across the country. I co-founded both Splash Effect, a boutique marketing & creative agency, as well as SkillsCamp, a soft skills training company. I am the author of an Amazon bestselling book, “The Burnout Gamble.” From TEDx stages and national conferences to MBA classrooms and Fortune 500 boardrooms, I am regularly invited to deliver keynotes and workshops around the world. I am faculty member at Seneca College and Ryerson University, teaching courses on digital marketing and social media. Through my consulting, writing, teaching and speaking, I empower people and businesses to transform ideas into action. From a naive and insecure first-generation students to a nervous and fumbling young professional right until present day—mentors from all walks of life have helped me to open doors, overcome shortcomings, and evolve personally, professionally, and academically. That’s why I’ve made it a priority in life to pay it forward and generously share the blueprints for success that have been handed down from people who’ve walked the path before me.

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Dr. Cheryl Thompson / “The” Story Does Not Have to Be Your Story
Twitter: @DrCherylT
Story available in: English
I am an Assistant Professor at Ryerson University, School of Creative Industries. I grew up in Scarborough. I went to public school, graduating from Cedarbrae Collegiate in 1996. I have a PhD from McGill University in Communication Studies, and I was an instructor at the University of Toronto (St. George, UTM, and UTSC) and a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow (2016-2018) in the Centre for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies and the Department of English and Drama (UTM). These accomplishments do not define who I am or what I think mentorship is about. I received very little mentorship on my journey. I was surrounded by loving people, i.e. family and friends, but no one who was willing or could help me along the path with advice, tips and strategies. Despite this absence, I always share my journey with young people, even if it is just a “how did I do it” story.

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Asma Khalil / Black Muslimah Rising: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in Graduate School
Instagram: @asmau_khalil
Story available in: English
How do you achieve a dream you were never even given the tools to envision? How do you overcome the fear of being “the first”? I have spent six years trying to find my place as a Black, Muslim woman in a predominantly White faculty at the University of Toronto. Now, in my first year as a PhD student, I reflect on the challenges, triumphs and daily anxieties associated with not seeing yourself represented in your given field. At the root of it all, providing mentorship for incoming students and actively seeking the guidance of inspiring Black Muslimah scholars has been integral in creating a space to feel safe, understood and valued.

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