The contagious energy of the huskies wanting run and run faster, the tranquility of mountain valleys with the snow covered forest and the surreal landscape of the Rockies! I felt such connection with nature thinking of the Inuit people of the Canadian Arctic originally dog sledding as a means of transport during the winter. As recreational as it is nowadays, I thank Howling Dog Tours for this incredible experience and giving so much love and care to their dogs. It felt like a big family.
May 2, 2018
I landed home to attend my grandpa's funeral after 3 planes and 39 hours. Among his spirit, memories and countless things to treasure, there were few of his belongings left behind that he carried on a daily basis. His gold watch, a bunch of spare coins that he used to put aside to buy fresh bread, a bus pass for seniors and his decades-old rosary. I kept his rosary knowing that he wouldn't want to leave it behind. Between visits to the relatives, my grandma in a nursing home and the synagogue, I stepped out and watched the city as the sun went down at the Golden Horn. I felt that a part of my identity was displaced and I had a sense of loss in belonging to this soil called home.
I had the pleasure to work with the Métis artist Justin Berger a.k.a. Justice over the past couple months photographing his marvelous mural paintings. Him and I had a chance to talk about some of the issues he tried to capture with his artwork from structural violence, loss of identity to climate change and corporatism. His paintings are incredibly potent - combined with his hard work and talent, he has a crucial message to give out to the world.
If you like to know more about him, here is an interview he's had with CBC a while back:
He also has a well-known mural painted at 96th Street and 105A Avenue in Edmonton.
Day and night, lost and found, between the sea and the land.
I wished you were here with me today.
I longed for your soul as much as your body.
I wanted to tell you jokes and laugh together at the sillyness of our circumstances,
We found ourselves living in.
I wished to hold your hand and not let it go.
We could dream of better days or freeze moments from the past.
You felt so near yet so far away.
Away from your house, your family and your memories.
You were stuck in time,
Neither could travel in the past nor the future.
And I was in that place with you,
Will still be forever waiting.
I wanted to explore the various emotions we wear as masks every day. Emotions can be temporary, subjective or deceiving. They can also have long-term effects and impact how we perceive reality and make daily decisions. They are absolutely a vital part of our lives. However, how we respond to our emotions and handle them in pressing situations is one of the main struggles of human spirit. Emotions distinctly affect human motivation, learning, communication with others, nervous function, and physical acts. One of the most explicit ways to describe them is through colours. Colours respond to emotions and moods intuitively and can alter our state of mind. Through using a series of colours as masks, I held a number of objects representing certain emotions. The images are an interpretation of my personal relationship with both concepts. What emotions do you experience as you look at them?
Masks are a universal cultural link found in most societies all over the world. They represent a silent language that defines the essence of human expressions and emotions at various levels – spiritual, psychological, and material. Behind every mask there is a face and behind that a story. We wear masks on daily basis to filter through our experiences and coexist peacefully in spite of our differences. For some masks are a survival tool used to hide loneliness, failure, anger, shame, or grief. Masks can bring us together or isolate us from each other. In today’s world I believe selfies are the pretend masks of our age. The tradition of expressing the self has become an obsession that surpasses cultures, boundaries, and generations.
11 days ago, after 11 years of living in a foreign country on my own I obtained my Canadian citizenship. For this part of the world it is just a piece of paper. But for someone like me, a minority in her own native country at the center of political chaos, social disruption and discrimination, it means independence, safety, mobility, freedom of expression, respect to human rights and dignity. It means that I can travel wherever I want in the world and proudly introduce myself without any eyes scrutinizing me from head to toe disgracefully. It means that my words will be taken into account and that I won't be pushed to the end of line to get assistance or just to merely ask a question based on my accent or nationality. The sad truth is there are much more tragic stories out there of racism and discrimination happening to people daily ever since they were born. People like you and I are being forced out of their countries and only if lucky some get to visit after decades of separation from family and friends. Refugees are not always the poor, uneducated and the unfortunate in the society. There are many friends that I know who are doctors, journalists, academics, artists, government workers, and people with many other interesting passions and interests looking for a way out of systematic oppression and injustice in their home country. I feel lucky to be part of the Canadian society that values cultural inclusion and diversity. I know things are not perfect here and each place in the world has got their own pros and cons. Though it is time that we celebrate everyday heroes in our community who have made a long way to get where they are now and don't take anything for granted which someone else is fighting for.