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  • September 10, 2022

    BIPOC Advisory Committee Blogs

    ISHA KHANDELWAL

    It is necessary to uphold and protect human rights, especially for those who are unable to, because they ensure that we as a society are able to hold ourselves accountable for the fair and dignified treatment of all human beings regardless of any factors like race, religion, disability, etc.  When I was in high school, I attended a talk where one of the presenters was a dean at the University of Manitoba. The dean explained that what differentiates a person who is simply good at their job from someone who is great at their job is whether they embody empathy in their practice. It was because of this teaching that I became involved in clubs and organizations related to social justice. As a daughter of immigrants, a visible minority, and as a woman I will always try to do my best to connect with others who share similar perspectives because of our alike roles in society. 

    Throughout my time participating and volunteering in my community events, I have learnt that no societal injustice can be considered an independent variable. Similar to a
    tangled-up ball of yarn, just when you think you have untangled a section, you look ahead and notice that you have created 2 new knots. At the end of the day, we need to understand the importance and the need of various sectors of society working together. I truly think that is how meaningful, full transformations in society are possible. There will be frustrations and challenges along the way, but it is crucial to make sure you are  surrounded by a group of motivated individuals that are in it to make lasting change. 

    I initially heard about MARL from a friend, but when I got to know more about the organization, I learned that what sets MARL apart is the way the organization combines education and advocacy. At my first MARL workshop/ presentation, I had the chance to enter a safe space that allowed me to ask the questions that were imperative for my understanding of the matter at hand. In addition to the environment, the education that was being shared with me was through the perception of individuals who were experiencing social injustice. After what feels like years of being stuck at home because of the pandemic, I am very excited to be a part of MARL and keep learning. 

    CASSIE DONG

    My name is Ha (Cassie) Dong (she/her), an international student from Vietnam. I recently finished my M.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Manitoba this summer, and I will pursue my PhD. in Peace and Conflict Studies here this Fall. As a peace scholar who is committed to working with different communities to co-produce and mobilize knowledge in ways that benefit the people, a lot of my knowledge and skills working in the community informs my research, and my research in turn also informs my community services.

    In the last two years, I have been working as a Graduate Research Assistant for the Looking After Each Other (LAEO) project. Partnering with the Manitoba FASD Coalition, my team of researchers and graduate students from the University of Manitoba have carefully listened to concerns and success stories of service providers and people with lived experiences and their families across Manitoba. I have learned so much about
    the silos of different public service systems as well as people’s creativity and resilience in helping others to navigate and change these systems. Moreover, I gained a deep understanding of the ways trauma, intergenerational trauma, and systemic oppressions (i.e., colonialism, racism, heteropatriarchism, etc.) impact individuals in their daily life. 

    The LAEO project is entering the phase of data analysis, and I am excited to work with diverse community members to not only analyze our data but also determine how the knowledge being produced will be used and mobilized to further support the communities. This research project has taught me so much about ethical engagements with marginalized communities to build meaningful relationships, which is the key to not only participatory action research but also sustainable community-building. 

    Coming to the BIPOC Advisory Committee with MARL, I am excited for opportunities to promote the human rights and dignity of people with disabilities and women in Manitoba. My hope is to co-create and deliver educational materials on these issues in ways that would reach a wide range of audience.

    TRIXIE MAYBITUIN

    My name is Trixie Maybituin [may-bee-two-inn] (she/her), and I am a part of MARL’S BIPOC Advisory Committee this year. I am an Asian immigrant settler, human rights graduate student, and a grassroots organizer on Treaty 1 territory. My community associations include organizing with Winnipeg Police Cause Harm and volunteering with the Human Rights Hub and the Prison Libraries Committee. Beyond academia and political and organizing spaces, you can find me sewing my own clothes or talking to friends and strangers about bell hooks’ All About Love.

    Human rights should be inalienable for everyone. Yet, this is not the case because rights are often granted conditionally. Legal and punitive institutions exist to forcibly deprive marginalized populations of their supposedly “inalienable” rights. If we want to ensure that everyone has access to their rights, those who are systemically excluded from obtaining them should be included. Any transactional condition attached must be detached.

    Most of my time and energy is dedicated to understanding systems of oppression through conversations, research, and organizing. What prompted me to join the spaces I’m currently in is reading about the Prison Industrial Complex and further learning and unlearning from conversations I’ve had with folks about their struggles. These conversations began in public education spaces, such as the Toronto Prisoner Rights Project’s abolitionist book club. As I began to understand the importance of critical pedagogy, I simultaneously realized the value of our collective work. Constantly surrounded by passionate, intelligent, and strong folks, I’m always in awe of what we are able to achieve as a community who respect and trust each other and believe in the things we are capable of together.

    Because public education intensified my community involvement, I value MARL’s emphasis on providing public human rights education. Paulo Freire explains that our struggle for liberation must be exercised through praxis, a combination of critical reflection, pedagogy, and action. MARL believes in education and advocacy, and my values are rooted in both. For this reason, I am grateful to be a small part of MARL’s BIPOC Advisory Committee this year and assist MARL with developing more workshops and programs that can benefit our community.

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