Executive Director Rachel Calder co-organized a 20th year community memorial for the murder of Reena Virk, on November 14th. Here is her speech she presented to the gathering: Taped to my office wall, there are an assortment of short notes. They include words of inspiration, guidance and specific dates I chose to help shape my work. One of these is a small, yellow post-it note with the date Nov 14th 1997 - and it has been there for about two years. I remember Reena – she reminds me to be intentional in the work I do for the prevention of racism, youth bullying, violence and all forms of intolerance. youth violence, racism and bullying are still issues in our community. Youth continue to experience these forms of oppression, despite all the work that has been done. It is a conversation that we need to continue, and will always need to continue. Marking the 20th year anniversary of Reena’s murder is important not only to honour her life and legacy but also to recognize our grief as a community and have this opportunity to continue to process it. I wondered, who am I to organize a community memorial for Reena? I didn’t know her family, or have any direct connection to her death. When individuals or groups face discrimination, they are often faced with the responsibility of having to advocate and call for justice from within their communities, that already face marginalization. As a Caucasian woman, I believe that showing up, and engaging in this process and work allows me to step into the role of an ally. I initially though about an event within our school community to mark this date but I also wondered about the meaning that could be made by offering our larger community the opportunity to gather, to
I was chosen. As a young mom, I have a unique perspective on parenting and life; therefore, I was asked by a university professor in the Child and Youth Care faculty to speak to her class about my personal experience. At first, I was nervous, but I was excited! I have never been to UVic before, and I had never been in a university class, so it was nerve wracking! It was exciting to be chosen, and I thought it was cool to be invited to talk about myself. I always love talking about my baby, and my experience, because I hope that my unique perspective can encourage others to not be judgemental of young moms, and see young moms in a different way. It was especially important because I was speaking to a Child and Youth Care class, and they directly work with people in similar situations to me, so I was hopeful to inspire them to see the work differently. I think more young moms should talk about their positive experiences, particularly to people who plan to work with this population, because it is never talked about in positive terms, so young moms are judged harshly.