Anu Radha Vermana’s Story

With the quiet intensity I feel most at home in, we talked, laughed, paused and created. It was the first community-based workshop for the border crossings project, and this session was in collaboration with QTBIPOCSauga, a grassroots group of queer, trans, Black, Indigenous and people of colour folks who seek to find and build community on our own terms. Over the course of a few hours, over slices of pizza and cookies, we created a space where raw truths of racism, homophobia and transphobia emerged through questions about identity, home, work and community.

Though we were a small group, we filled the Robert Freeman Gallery at the AGM with our conversation fittingly floating amongst Jeff Thomas’ exhibition A Necessary Fiction: My Conversation with George Hunter and Edward S. Curtis.

To begin, participants were asked to chart the last year, creating long slips of paper that resembled ECG charts. Folks in the room shared the struggles and triumphs of the seasons past, setting the tone for an evening of sharing and holding space for one another. We made an adapted version of the name tags we’re asked to put on whenever we enter a community space, but rather than a stale rectangle that never sticks, we used cut outs of keys, writing and drawing the things we wish people knew about us, the internal and external versions of ‘us’ that are rarely seen or acknowledged. With thoughtful reflection, the group completed a number of sentences

● Today, I am coming from….

● The place I feel at home is…

● My favourite feeling is… Speaking my truths sounds like…

● My spirit is in…

Through our discussions, participants expressed gratitude to one another for sharing a perspective on a border, a boundary, a barrier that perhaps they hadn’t thought about before. Like disrupting the borders between niceness and rage. Like being mixed race always requires an awareness of difference and distance. Like how tiring it is to always be expected to be somewhere else. Like how hard it is to feel connected

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