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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Joanne St. Lewis, Rejane Claasen, and Chelby Marie Daigle

This photo was taken at the Women’s World Conference which took place last summer. I’m chatting with University of Ottawa Law Professor Joanne St. Lewis and South African journalist Rejane Claasen at the Conference Centre.

I attended the conference through my work with the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre. I co-presented the workshop Addressing Sexual Violence with Young Women of Colour and Immigrant/Refugee Girls. This was an amazing opportunity to showcase the work of Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre’s Girls’ Chat Program, of which I am a facilitator. We received funding from the Conference Organizers to attend the conference and bring a few of the program’s participants with us to co-present. The girls really ran the show, leading the workshop which was well attended (even people were called in by their co-workers because ours was one of the few workshops about working with girls that was actually led by girls).

Further Reading:

Women’s Worlds 2011 Conference Website

Rejane Claasen’s Website

Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre’s Girls’ Chat Program

Girls’ Action Foundation Profile for Girls’ Chat

PowerPoint Presentation about The Girls’ Chat Program

GiveMeaning Page in order to donate to the Girls’ Chat Program

I attended the first show of Ottawa’s newest Spoken Word Poetry Collective, Project Reclamation. In their own words, here’s what Project Reclamation is all about:

Project Reclamation is an all female dynamic collective consisting of Asha Kayd, Azenith Barbosa, Afuwa Renner, Amatullah Yousif, Jesslyn Colley, Khadija Ahmed, Marwa Talal, F(a)rah Ali Aman (Frah4life), Sharrae Lyon (Aisha Rae), and Sarah Musa. We are a fusion of artists…, thinkers, and activists. One of the main goals of this collective is to help inspire and fuel one another, by encouraging and collaborating with each other to create limitless art.

Project Reclamation is about sharing our inheritance of female courage and creativity with the rest of the art scene. We exist to combine our humanity to bring honor to women’s creative herstories and futures. We are constructing an intellectual and social space that builds upon the visionary energy of the inner and outer woman. Project Reclamation is an open environment where we speak our personal truths, inspire revolutions, break stereotypes and support peace in each other’s experiences. We promise not only to speak what is in our hearts, but to let our creativity carry us in the direction of positive action. This is a no insecurity and no limitations zone!

The collective compiles together photographers, visual artists, film makers, poets, musicians, writers of all sorts (essays, journal articles, prose, poetry), bloggers, fashion designers/enthusiasts, and the list goes on.

Our stories are not finished without the visibility of the rest of our global sisters. This project is a community challenge to mend our differences. We defy wanting to be equal…we are simply alive. We break stigmas. We step out of our comfort zones. We acknowledge and learn from our mistakes. We accept one another. We inspire youth and thank those who came before us. This art initiative was created for sharing risks, for rebelling against silence and for seeing art as a responsibility to further understand our mission and our vision as women…individually, collectively. Completely.

Asha Kayd, Azenith Barbosa, Afuwa Renner, Jesslyn Colley, Khadija Ahmed, Sharrae Lyon, and Sarah Musa are all Spoken Word Poets. Marwa Talal is a visual artist, and F(a)rah Ali Aman (Frah4life) sings. There were also performances by special guests Russian Canadian Anastasia Filippova and Ugandan Canadian Rita Carter, both singer-songwriters.

Project Reclamation. Photo by Rebecca Jones. Collage by Amatullah Yousif

The event was well attended but I was most impressed by the diversity of the audience, not only in its multiculturalism but also in its multigenerational aspects. Other Spoken Word artists came out to show their support, as well as the friends and family members of the performers.

I had the pleasure of working with Sarah Musa, Jesslyn Colley, and Afuwa Renner a few years ago, back when they were all still in high school, when they participated in the Speaking for Ourselves: All Girls’ Stream, a project which connected youth with Spoken Word artists. I designed and coordinated the project.

I look forward to seeing if these young women will begin creating actual collective works of art, incorporating each other’s talents into an integrated work as opposed to individual pieces.

Further Reading:

The Project Reclamation Collective

Project Reclamation’s Tumblr Blog

Azenith Barbosa’s Blog
Sarah Musa’s Blog
Sharrae Lyon’s Blog
Farah Ali Aman’s Blog
Marwa Talal’s Blog
Amatullah Yousif’s Blog
Special Guests

Anastasia Filippova’s Website
Anastasia Filippova’s YouTube Page
Rita Carter’s YouTube Page