“You’re not the only one to ask yourself questions about your differences,” Isabelle Racicot told the 10,000 high school students gathered for a webinar Wednesday morning. Longueuil Police Service (SPAL) organized this conference on diversity after learning that students from cultural communities have been bullied regarding the origins of COVID-19.
In turn, host Isabel Racicoot, writer Kim Thuy, rapper Samyan and Police Chief Fadi Dagher discussed their high school time. “I found it difficult because I wanted to sound like the majority,” Isabel Racicot revealed to the Mary Victorian School Service Center students who were listening to the conference live.
Artist Samian, born to mother of Algonquin and father from Quebec, spoke of his schools and adolescence as “a huge challenge”. “In the reserve, young men beat me because I was white to them. And when I went to my father’s house in Amos, the guys beat me because for them, I was Native American […] It was writing that taught me how to grow. ”
As he got older, Samyan reconciled with his ancestry. He now says he is proud of his Algonquin culture and language. “I can feel 100% in Quebec and 100% Algonquin. The person who will release the Algonquin album in a few months’ time,” said.
Writer Kim Thúy also felt like being “between two chairs” for a long time. I didn’t master French or English. I didn’t feel like I was from Quebec or Vietnamese. Today, it embraces its culture and sees its differences as an asset. “I would never have written books without my differences, this different culture, this different background. It gave me material to write.”
Isabel Racicot is convinced that she got jobs thanks to the color of her skin “in respect of the quota system”. “Every time I was like,” I don’t care what I put here. I’ll show them I’m right to be there! ”
“Don’t be shy about being chosen on the basis of your differences,” said one encouraging fan.
‘She gave me hope’
Since the start of the pandemic, the Longwell Caucus Police Chief has been concerned about the distress of teenagers in confinement. Schools on their grounds have also reported instances of intimidation targeting students from ethnic groups. So Fadi Dagher decided to speak directly to the youth to encourage them to see their differences as strengths.
“We wanted to introduce them to young actors, not young men, from different backgrounds so that they can see that it is possible to be successful,” Dagher explained on the sidelines of the webinar.
On Wednesday morning, 15 schools were linked to the conference at the same time. At Saint-Jean-Baptiste School, Daniela Adão Manuel da Silva, a second grader in high school, said she was touched by the stories the speakers told on the web. She herself was the victim of hurtful and racist remarks at her school.
People often ask me where I am from in Africa due to the color of my skin. But I was born here. I’ve only visited Africa once in my life, “she cites as an example.
Nih Malik was also happy at the end of the webinar. “We had several conferences during high school, but it was boring.” The fifth year student said, “This is the first time that I feel like connecting with animators.”
“Their stories and their stories, as a person of color, gave me hope for the future,” said Neh Malik.