Would Elijah Wood read my blog? Elijah would.

Hello reader⁠— if you’ve been reading my blog for a while then

1. you are awesome, and

2. you may remember a couple years ago when I posted A Rather Overdue Love Letter to Elijah Wood From Alberta’s Unfortunate Fangirl. I wrote about how my plans to finally meet one of my favorite actors, Elijah Wood (Frodo in LOTR), at a geek convention were squashed by the simultaneous timing of my own presentation at a library convention. It was like the plot of a Highschool Musical-esque movie (omg, which one will she choose, her first celebrity crush or her first real public speaking gig!? Time to break out into a choreographed musical interlude on the emotional turmoil of it all!) but as much as I would have loved to meet Elijah, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity and adventure of presenting my session at the Alberta Library Conference (despite needing to overcome the terror of being in front of a group of people).

Then, when I heard that the entire hobbit crew, including Elijah, were planning to come back to Calgary for the 2020 Calgary Expo, I knew this is the time I will meet him and fulfill the dream that my 13 year old self held on to so tightly! I was excited to go to Calgary Expo for the first time; I’ve heard it’s bigger and generally more happenin’ than Edmonton Expo, which I have frequented in the past.

But alas, this is 2020, so again, it was not to be. FOILED AGAIN! Of course the conference was cancelled, thanks to Covid19. The event space probably would have been filled with murder hornets anyway, so whatever. It’s cool. No biggie.

So April came and went with no Calgary Expo. My 30th birthday also happened, and although I’ve realized that birthdays are generally underwhelming once you hit adulthood, I was hoping to get some friends together and go out for karaoke or something and have my first real birthday “party” in years (30 is supposed to be one of those big milestones, isn’t it?)… but again, Covid made that party idea impossible. It’s all good- gotta do what you gotta do to kick the virus’s ass!

I did, however, get some birthday moolah, and this coincided with Elijah becoming available on that Cameo site where you can pay celebs to make personalized videos. Requesting Elijah was a bit pricey, and the whole premise of the site gave me some cringey vibes to be honest, but I thought oh, what the hell, he made the decision to be available on there, it’s my birthday money, and this is a cool opportunity.

So, I sent in my request, explaining that I am a huge fan and asking if he wouldn’t mind reading my aforementioned blog post to him from 2018. He sent me back this wonderful video and it really made me happy- such a genuine, positive, and kind response. I think it was birthday money very well spent! Thank you so much, Elijah!

His overalls ❤

The Art of Conversation

This is by far the most special art project I’ve ever done ❤. The Art of Conversation is a project that brings artists and seniors in our community together, made possible through a partnership between the Arts Council Wood Buffalo and St. Aidan’s Society. The idea is that the artist hosts a conversation with their partner and the resulting discussion becomes the muse for an art project.

Before I first called my partner Libby I was nervous- what if we didn’t click? What if I didn’t get any ideas for my piece? Happily, my fears were unfounded, as we had a great chat and I had the initial ideas for my project before we were even done talking. This project was a joy and Libby was my inspiration.

This video includes some audio clips from parts of our conversation, and video from my process creating the artwork.

Anti-Black Racism Is Alive In Canada: Resources To Learn From

With the protests happening in America right now, us friendly Canadians may like to think that we are a more welcoming country unburdened by the problems of our neighbor. In school they taught us that we are the mosaic to the US’s melting pot— aren’t we setting a good example of inclusion and diversity? Don’t we have welcoming immigration policies? Aren’t we above what is happening in the United States? It’s a sentiment that I’ve seen being bandied about in recent days. The trending hashtag #meanwhileincanada popped up and at first was being used to contrast us to our neighbors south of the border with viral images and videos like that of a moose taking a dip in somebody’s swimming pool⁠— hah, good ol’ Canada eh?!

Fellow Canadians, talk to your Black neighbors and you may learn that this “friendly Canadian” label is nothing but a dangerously convenient facade. We cannot grow complacent because we think we’re “not racist in Canada”. There are many things I love about our country, but we have a long way to go and it is always our responsibility to educate ourselves the best we can about the realities in Canada so that we can actively work toward a better tomorrow.

Below I have collected some information on articles, books, and videos with anti-Black racism in Canada in mind. However, there is a further wealth of information available on how individual and systemic racism is very much alive in Canada in many forms. Such racism is rooted in our colonial past and impacts many people every day, including people of colour, immigrants, and our Indigenous peoples.

Note to reader: I am a white Canadian woman and I am not in any way an authority on racism in Canada. I hope that these resources may serve as a jumping-off point for personal learning and an introduction to some Black Canadian voices. These resources are not exhaustive; please feel free to share any resources that you feel should be added.


Articles

Jen Katshunga; Notisha Massaquoi; Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit, City of Toronto; Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI); and Justine Wallace for Behind the Numbers: Black Women in Canada

Today, more than ever, urgent and sustained action is needed to tackle persistent and profound barriers to change and to challenge entrenched norms and stereotypes. Success will only be achieved if Black women are equal partners and leaders in this work.


Claire Loewen for CBC, 2020: As Premier Denies Systemic Racism, Black Quebecers Point to their Lived Experience

They put their knee on my neck, like they did to George Floyd.

Alexandre Lamontagne

Benjamin Shingler & Simon Nakonechny for CBC, 2020: Montreal Protestors Aim to Drive Home Message Racism is a Problem Here Too

For years we said there’s racial profiling in Montreal, and now it’s a message that everybody has to hear us.

Will Prosper

Eternity Martis for Chatelaine, 2020: 5 Black Women Talk About Their Lives In Canada– Past, Present and Future

In Canada, Black women are still discriminated against in the healthcare system, where we face alarmingly high rates of maternal death. We continue to be victims of police and state violence, and in the workplace, continue to be paid less than both white men and white women.  

Eternity Martis

Annette Henry for The Conversation, 2017: Dear White People, Wake Up: Canada is Racist

Those who do not experience racism may be unaware of how it functions in Canada — perniciously and insidiously.

Annette Henry

Carl James for The Conversation, 2019: The Crisis of Anti-Black Racism in Schools Persists Across Generations

Black students say they are “being treated differently than their non-Black peers in the classrooms and hallways of their schools.” They say there is still a lack of Black presence in schools. There are few Black teachers, the curriculum does not adequately address Black history and schools lack an equitable process to help students deal with anti-Black racism.

Carl James

Janaya Khan for Flare, 2017: Don’t Kid Yourself, White Nationalism is on the Rise in Canada Too

Canadians have a deep investment in seeing themselves as more enlightened than their counterparts to the south, as if racism and bigotry suddenly stop at the U.S./Canada border. 

Janaya Khan

Stacy Lee Kong for Flare, 2018: If It Feels Like Racism In Canada Is Getting Worse, That’s Because It Is”

Every time we hear about another example of blatant racism, we tend to be shocked, as if we’ve collectively agreed that sure, things happen here—but it’s nowhere near as bad as it is there. That’s B.S., obviously.

Stacy Lee Kong

Tayo Bero for The Guardian, 2019: Canada is Overdue For a Reckoning With Its Anti-Black Racism

Young black men across the country have spoken for years about being surveilled and criminalized simply for existing.

Tayo Bero

Andray Domise for Hazlitt, 2015: White Supremacy is Not a Black Problem

The message now is that white comfort is worth more than black lives. This has to change.

Andray Domise

Maija Kappler for Huffington Post, 2020: Racism in Canada is Ever Present, But We Have a Long History of Denial

It’s tempting for Canadians to fall back on the idea that we’re not as racist as Americans…

Maija Kappler

Byron Armstrong for Now Toronto, 2018: Dining While Black

Sometimes, I just want to order an artisanal handcrafted lobster roll without getting the feeling that it’s somehow unusual for me to do so. Or be able to sit in a dimly lit speakeasy while a gentleman in a bow tie and handlebar moustache concocts a $16 cocktail for me, without becoming more of the show than the actual show.

Now the controversy over Hong Shing restaurant comes along to remind us that it’s not just white-owned establishments practicing discrimination against us, but also other people of colour.

Byron Armstrong

Neil Price, Radheyan Simonpillai, and Chaka V. Grier for NowToronto, 2019: Black Futures Month: Five Torontonians want to make 2019 the year for change

I want Black children and youth to no longer feel ashamed of crumbling school buildings, or be afraid to drink the water, or experience unbearable physical and distractive cognitive challenges due to sweltering heat in their classrooms. The nearly $4 billion backlog in school repairs must be fixed. Schools must become fully accessible, infused with colour, arts and green space.

In my dream, roaming the mall for a new pair of jeans or for a knapsack is no longer hazardous for our kids’ health. Shopping while Black is a carefree experience. So is interviewing for a job while Black.

Jill Andrew

Robyn Maynard for The Star, 2020: It’s Long-Past Time to Talk About Policing of Black Women in Canada

It is clear that combating the violent policing of Black women remains an urgent necessity for all of us.

Robyn Maynard

Various Authors for The Star, 2020: Racism Exists in Canada: These are the Stories From People Who Have Lived It As Eyes Turn On The U.S. After George Floyd Death in Minneapolis

(Monday) morning, the day before I earn my Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Toronto, I awoke to an online comment which stated “I would never let her treat me.”

Dr. Chika Oriuwa, MD

Vicky Mochama for The Star, 2018: Systemic Racism in Canada is Real, Folks

Questions about systemic racism are less about our personal interactions but rather about how the institutions that govern our lives have internalized and implemented racism. 

Vicky Mochama

Desmond Cole for Toronto Life, 2015: The Skin I’m In: I’ve Been Interrogated By Police More Than 50 Times– All Because I’m Black

There’s this idea that Toronto is becoming a post-racial city, a multicultural utopia where the colour of your skin has no bearing on your prospects. That kind of thinking is ridiculously naïve in a city and country where racism contributes to a self-perpetuating cycle of criminalization and imprisonment.

Desmond Cole

Books

The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power

Desmond Cole, 2020


Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter In Canada

Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson & Syrus Marcus Ware (Editors), 2020


Talking About Identity: Encounters in Race, Ethnicity, and Language

Carl James & Adrienne Shadd (Editors), 2001


In The Black: My Life

B. Denham Jolly, 2017


Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada From Slavery to the Present

Robyn Maynard, 2017


Blank: Essays and Interviews

M. NourbeSe Philip, 2017


Queer Returns: Essays on Multiculturalism, Diaspora, and Black Studies

Rinaldo Walcott, 2016


Videos

Desmond Cole for CBC, 2017: Firsthand Episode 2: The Skin We’re In

Acclaimed journalist Desmond Cole explores what it is to be Black in 21st century Canada. Do Black Lives Matter here?


Roaring River Films, 2019: Our Dance of Revolution: The History of Toronto’s Black Queer Community

Our Dance of Revolution tells the story of how Black queer folks in Toronto faced every adversity, from invisibility to police brutality, and rose up to become a vibrant, triple-snap-fierce community. 


Yamikani Msosa for VAW Learning Network, 2018: Roots and Resistance: Sexual Violence and Anti-Black Racism

Roots and Resistance is a webinar that explores in depth conversations about the connections between sexual violence, state violence, and healing from collective and individual sexual abuse and trauma for Black survivors.

Cosplay Quarantine Music Video

Cosplayers around the world who had been working hard on their costumes have found that the cons they were preparing for were cancelled thanks to Covid19. Cosplayers, however, are nothing if not creative. My friends at M’Guphynn Media, who usually bring their fancy equipment to cons each year and make cosplay music videos with the resulting footage, put together this awesome Cosplay Music Video: Quarantine Edition, made up of submissions from cosplayers (including myself as Rize Kamishiro at 2.36 and my doggos as Harry Potter and Mario at 0.24 and 3:04 respectivelty!)

Check it out! ❤

Tokyo Video: December 2019

A few weeks ago I compiled some of my video clips from our last trip to Japan (December 2019) into a 30 minute video. It’s a chronological mashup of many of the sights and sounds that we experienced on our trip, which took place mainly in Tokyo this time.

I hope that you will enjoy this video, which features dancing, singing, a Pokemon cafe, some cute dogs, amazing food, Sailor Scouts, robots, cram-packed stores, shrines and temples, kawaii monster girls, karaoke, mochi-pounding, snakes, and much more.

And even after my second trip to Japan, I am again dreaming of my return. Someday! ❤

If you’d like to see the videos from our last trip to Japan (2017) in which we traveled more broadly, check out this post.

Or, if you would like to read the detailed day-by-day blogs from our trips, they start here (2017) and here (2019).

Thanks for stopping by!

Animal Crossing Library Island Tour

From my library-focused blog, Shaunaseeks:

ShaunaSeeks

For the past few weeks in my self-isolation, I’ve been working on an Animal Crossing island that our library patrons can enjoy from home. I’ve created a YouTube video to highlight the main features of WBRL Isle. Many thanks to the other library folk who helped me collect special items for this island!

View original post

New Horizons: My First Island Tour

Last night I stayed up past 3am filming this little nighttime tour and recording narration, adding YouTube captions… because what even IS time anymore, am I right?!

I don’t have a capture card, so I filmed my switch from above- it’s not ideal but hopefully it’s an OK viewing experience.

Onsen: 0:51
Campground Area: 1:10
Teddy Bear Picnic Area: 2:08
Fairground(?) Area & Music Area: 2:24
Pansy Lake: 2:50
Orchard: 3:15
Yard & Garden: 3:40
Sakura Room: 4:35
Kitchen: 5:05
Secret Lab 5:40
Bathroom: 6:30
Tearoom: 7:10
Fashion: 8:10
My Library Designs 9:40

My creator ID: MA-6167-0370-0740

Molly Creator ID (Moon Stepping Stones): MA-9458-8581-5737

Katala Creator ID (Fruit Art): MA-4288-6745-5427

#closethelibraries

New post to ShaunaSeeks (my library-focused blog)

ShaunaSeeks

(The following essay was submitted as a final paper for my LIS 542: Library Preservation, Security and Risk Management course.)


Librarians and libraries are held to extremely high standards by patrons and staff who know their true and immense value. While libraries are often misunderstood and overlooked by those who choose to eschew them, every day libraries prove their worth as essential cornerstones of society. Many libraries have further surprised their communities and surpassed the expectations of even their most steadfast supporters by becoming tenacious strongholds during times of turmoil. While I wholeheartedly believe that libraries should do as much as they can for their communities in hard times, it has taken a pandemic for me to fully realize that we, too, have a limit. Libraries are sanctuaries for everyone in good times and bad, but there are times when staying open to the public is a health risk that…

View original post 1,959 more words

Pandemic Ponderings: It’s Okay To Float Along

I was previously working on a meandering post about all of the ridiculous items that W**h ads try to sell me (medical tools? cheese? drugs? impractical lingerie? blood worms?) until I realized that:

  1. My mom was getting similarly weird items advertised to her too— I guess I’m not a unique flower like I thought I was? (Or, if I am, I got it from my Momma!)
  2. I’m now pretty sure that is their strategy: get people sharing the wacky stuff to create a buzz to bring in more sales
  3. I don’t really want to promote a site that sells cheap knockoff junk of questionable quality
  4. It’s a fricken global pandemic right now and I just want to write something else.

Oh, one more little thing before I get into the post: my new domain is live! You can now access my blog at hidengoshauna.ca .

Neat, huh!?


So—pandemic time. How’s everyone doing?

Most of us are isolated in our homes just about 24/7 right now. It’s a strange time. I’ve seen a lot of posts urging people to make the best of this unforseen stretch of time to learn new skills, do the things they’ve been putting off, to not be idle and see this time as an opportunity.

To this I say great, if you can.

But not everybody can.

This message has been going around on social media: “If you don’t come out of this with a new skill, you never lacked time… you lacked discipline”. I call major bullshit on this one! This little bit of tough-love “wisdom” ignores the fact that people all live in vastly different situations with entirely different responsibilities, struggles, obstacles and means. To declare that this time should be an opportunity for skill development comes from a place of immense privilege and completely disregards the living experiences of others.

People are scared: for themselves, for loved ones, for the world at large. Some people are in isolation 24/7 with their abusers. Some people are facing racist attacks, unstable income, and falling into declining mental and physical health. Some people are looking after dependents who require round-the-clock care, and with their usual supports cut off suddenly.

Alaa Hijazi shared her insight as a trauma psychologist:

I feel lucky. I’m safe at home with my husband and dogs. I still have a job. My mental health is currently OK. My physical health is currently OK. I’m doing alright for now. I’m keeping busy and trying to make the best of my situation, but some times I have bad days and just float along as best as I can- and that’s okay.

I hope you are also doing alright, reader. Take care.

Healing Routines In A Time of Anxiety: Animal Crossing

It’s been a crazy week in a month that is flying by and a year that nobody was expecting. The world is on edge with the coronavirus threat, people are hoarding toilet paper (?) and while many of us are preparing to spend more time at home than we’re accustomed to, others around the globe are putting their own lives at risk working extended hours to help keep this thing under control.

Some things will change suddenly- it’s unlikely, for example, that the cosplay project I’ve been working on will debut at Calgary Expo in April as planned, as I highly doubt that it will be safe enough by that point to have such a huge gathering of people in one place. My sister’s Worlds Cheerleading competition has been postponed, as have peoples’ trips, weddings, exams, surgeries, and other important events.

In a time when plans are being dashed, trips cancelled, work halted, and unprecedented stressful situations are unfolding daily, it is important to ensure we keep some normalcy in our day-to-day. It’s good for our mental health to have things to rely on, things to look forward to, things to distract us and give us some calming rituals and routines. For me, this will include activities like creating art, playing with my dogs, spending time with my husband, and reading. It will also include, in four days’ time, Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

It’s been a while since I’ve awaited a game so excitedly. In our current goings-on, a new Animal Crossing game is just what I need to give my brain a break from the constant Breaking News.

If you’ve never played an Animal Crossing game before, they are extremely easy to recommend to just about anyone. The family-friendly series is known for being popular with everyone, their mom, and their grandma! The irresistible recipe of customization, decorating, crafting, improving the community, and making cute little animal friends gets better and better with each new installment. New Horizons offers so many cool new features, like landscaping, that I can’t wait to try out.

Last year I got the chance to check out the new Nintendo store at Parco Shibuya!

Sometimes, when the real world feels crazy, it’s nice to have a gentle, encouraging, somewhat predictable little oasis to call your own. I hope that Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be that for myself and many others.

Happy gaming everyone, and stay safe!