Human Library Project at UTSC


wow_human_library_16What 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 the UTSC Division of Student Life, the Scarborough Campus Student Union, the UTSC Library and ARTSIDEOUT.

This year’s theme is: Rebirth & Resiliency*

What is the next chapter for Scarborough? How have relationships between diverse cultures and communit(ies) come together to shape something new? How have the communities we’ve grown up in helped us thrive? How does sharing stories create better understandings of ourselves and our communities? Do we experience a rebirth when we share our stories of resilience with our communities?

This Human Library, the first one of its kind offered at the University of Toronto Scarborough explores the journey(s) toward healing and growth that come out of lived experiences in Scarborough. By reflecting on the stories that have shaped our identities, this Human Library will provide a platform for participants to express their stories of survival, growth and resiliency and begin to answer the questions, ‘where have we come from?’ and ‘what will be next?’

When: Wed., March 28, 2018, 3-7 pm
Where: Rex’s Den, Student Centre, basement
Cost: Free / Register online >

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

* This theme has been informed by ARTSIDEOUT’s 2018 theme of Rebirth. 


2018 Human Books

Indygo Arscott / How to Lose A Quarter Of Yourself In All The Right Places
Hamza Khan / Ideas Into Action
Sharine Taylor / The Diaspora Dilemma
Bidhan Berma / The Last Train East
Tanya Callaghan / Girls Addicted to Basketball
Sarena Johnson / The Urban Indigenous Identity Conundrum
Janine Berridge-Paul / I can’t “cope” anymore, I want to heal
Mitch Robert George / For Our Generations to Come – Ceremony Saved My Life
Melissa James / The Quiet Afro: breaking the stereotype of changemakers
Michèle Pearson Clarke / Holding Space for Grief
Janice Asiimwe / Mis-Adventures of a Third Culture Kid
Melissa Ayisi / Afro-Asian Experiences: In-Between and Never Enough



Indygo Arscott / How to Lose A Quarter Of Yourself In All The Right Places
Twitter: @decolonizeont
Story available in: English & French

My name is Indygo and I just turned 16 years old. I organized a rally that happened on March 3rd in honour of Tina Fontaine that thousands of people attended. I run an online platform called Decolonize Canadian Schools in which I am fighting for the Indigenization of the curriculum on Turtle Island. While I am doing impactful things, there are some skeletons that lie in my closet, as last year I was hospitalized for anorexia nervosa and almost lost my life. At the end of the day, as a 2spirited Ojibwe youth, I demonstrate resilience every time I leave my house.

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Hamza Khan / Ideas Into Action
Twitter: @HazmaK
Story available in: English, Hindi & Urdu

I am a multi-award winning marketer & entrepreneur. I’m 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. The best-selling author of “The Burnout Gamble,” I have spoken at more than 50 events (including 2 TEDx events) across 20 cities and 8 countries, to more than 15,000 people. I am a 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. Learn more at www.hamzakhan.ca.

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Sharine Taylor / The Diaspora Dilemma
Twitter: @Shharine
Story available in: English

Identity, citizenship, community, belonging: these are all things that I think about daily. How do we construct our identity? How do we maintain community? How do we foster belonging? What are our connections to “back home” when we are part of the diaspora. Through my art, I’ve began to discover some answers.

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Bidhan Berma / The Last Train East
Story available in: English, Nepali, French

Growing up in Toronto’s east end as an asian man who loves hip-hop and Caribbean culture as if it’s his own, Berma has gone through many trials and tribulations navigating through the maze of a Toronto arts community.

This is a new experience for me and I feel like my history of performing arts alongside artist education allows for me to be efficient and impactful in my storytelling ability.

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Tanya Callaghan / Girls Addicted to Basketball
Story available in: English

Girls addicted to basketball tells the story of a young, shy, timid girl named Tanya who learnt invaluable lessons about life through the game of basketball. It was through her court hopping days in Scarborough with her 3on3 female teammates, and an inspiring older sister that she became a confident teenager, turned into a resilient community leader, and inspiration for female youth around the world.

Tanya sets and literally travels her own path, defines her success and strives to achieve it. She not only backpacked around the world by herself in one year to give service, but she started her own not-for-profit to build confidence in female youth through the game of basketball. Passion is her best-kept secret, and God is her driving force. Girls addicted to basketball will outline 7 key tips to find your passion to fuel your mindset to achieve any goal you desire.

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Sarena Johnson / The Urban Indigenous Identity Conundrum
Story available in: English, Nepali, French

The first time I remember thinking about nationality was when I asked my mom if we were Canadian or American. She said we were neither, but both. Try as I might, I just could not wrap my five year old head around that concept. So I threw a tantrum.

Many years later, my identity is still not easy to understand. See, my mother is Metis and my father is First Nations. In this society of forms to fill out, quick explanations to make, and boxes to check, I can’t exactly check off one box in the “Indigenous” section without symbolically unchecking the other. Thus, Metis has been relegated to the sidelines in many boxes and many stories. Which is unfortunate seeing as I quite like what little I do know about my Metis family history…

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Janine Berridge-Paul / I can’t “cope” anymore, I want to heal
Story available in: English

My journey has been one of pain and trauma, but this has led me to healing. When I say healing, I mean addressing the truths behind my pain which has included discrimination, mental health issues, racial and cultural identity, as well as trauma and grief. This journey to finding my true self and discovering my purpose, has taught me that “coping” is simply not enough and that learning to heal is most important. I look forward to sharing my healing journey and all that has led me to where I am now with others.

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Mitch Robert George / For Our Generations to Come – Ceremony Saved My Life
Story available in: English

Ska-tig-naado-a-nina dishnakaas mshiikeh doodem kikoonong doonjiba.

My name is Red Pine Sprit Man. I am Turtle Clan. I am from Kettle Point. I am Anishnaabe, Pottawattami, Odawa, and Ojibwe. I am 36 years old.

I am an intergenerational residential school survivor. I am a sundancer pipe carrier. I am a singer and I participate and practice the teachings from ceremonies. I do my best to practice in my daily life, the seven grandfather teachings. I am just a normal guy trying to live life and follow my heart and hopes and dreams. I want to make those dreams a reality. Through ceremony we teach each other respect, humility, and love—love oneself and each other, and every thing in creation.

My ceremony family has given me hope. It has given me family structure. Community becomes family. Community is give and take, food, helping out, volunteering, stacking chairs. It has taken me so many places—Mexico, Newfoundland, South Korea.

I am going to school, I want to become a teacher, I want to teach my language. Knowing language changes everything. If there is no language, there is no culture, how can we preserve our way of life if we don’t have language? If we cannot teach our kids? It is for the youth. It is for my daughter, I want her to be proud of me.

Through ceremony we heal as a community. We heal as a family, we heal as individuals. We teach each other respect, humility, and love—love oneself and each other, and every thing in creation. I don’t think I would be here without ceremony. Ceremony saved my life.

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Melissa James / The Quiet Afro: breaking the stereotype of changemakers
Twitter: @Melononline_
Story available in: English

People gave me dirty looks, others said I was beautiful, some questioned whether I would shake the ship because I’m obviously pro black; this was simply the beliefs that follow rocking an afro. I’ve never protested, I believe in human rights but then I quit working in community services. I jumped off the train of helping others through institutions to help myself and in the middle of working on me. I discovered the keys to set us all free. It’s not the government where change happens it’s within me. So after 5 months of depression, undoing belief systems that had me feeling powerless, I discovered I have what I need to support others and I created a space online and in my home for people to be at home and be themselves.

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Michèle Pearson Clarke / Holding Space for Grief
Story available in: English

Currently serving as the EDA artist-in-residence in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media at UTSC, Michèle Pearson Clarke is a Trinidad-born artist who works in photography, film, video and installation. Informed by her background in psychology and social work, and her personal experience of grieving her mother’s death in 2011, her work deals largely with the everyday moments of ambiguity, melancholy and discomfort present in experiences related to longing and loss. She is interested in the personal and political possibilities afforded by sharing these experiences, and what this vulnerability has to offer us when we are transparent about these difficult and often stigmatized psychological and emotional states.

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Janice Asiimwe / Mis-Adventures of a Third Culture Kid
Story available in: English

Born in Kampala, Uganda and raised in Mombasa, Kenya, Janice had an idyllic childhood growing up in a household with two very African parents (read: no sleep overs “What’s wrong with your bed?”) and 4 siblings, there was always something going on at home. Whether it was plotting how to read the latest installment of her sister’s journal entry, (without getting caught this time!) or figuring out how to convince her mum to let her go to her friends party sans her annoying little sister (she wasn’t even invited!). Janice could not imagine a life outside of the bubble that was the tiny island of Mombasa, let alone making a life in Canada. 10+ years later, Canada is pretty much home. Misadventures of a Third Culture Kid chronicles the journey of an international student as she searches for community, adapts to a new environment, battles the monster known as Canadian immigration (does she overcome? No spoilers) and challenges ingrained core cultural beliefs as she searches for the ever elusive place called ‘home’.

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Melissa Ayisi / Afro-Asian Experiences: In-Between and Never Enough
Story available in: English

“You’re Blasian? That’s why you have such nice hair” was a typical comment that I received from people who could not fathom that Ghanaian women could possibly have beautiful hair. Comments like: “You’re lucky you’re half Filipino” or “That’s why you’re smart. You’re half Asian.” God forbid that I be just Ghanaian right? These poisonous comments contributed to the shame that I had because of my Blackness. My internalized racism manifested through experimenting with lightening creams and religiously straightening my hair. My experience has also been one of always feeling in-between and never enough. In some spaces, I am not Filipino enough because I am “too dark” or not Ghanaian enough because I cannot speak Twi. My story is about Afro-Asians who always feel that they need to prove that they are fully African/Black and Asian, who are (re)learning how to love and reclaim both their African/Black and Asian backgrounds.

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