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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!)
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:
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!)
I’m now pretty sure that is their strategy: get people sharing the wacky stuff to create a buzz to bring in more sales
I don’t really want to promote a site that sells cheap knockoff junk of questionable quality
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 .
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.
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.
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: NewHorizons.
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.
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.
Something heartbreaking happened recently in my home community in New Brunswick- it has been weighing heavily on my mind for quite some time and as such I considered writing about it earlier on, but it wasn’t my story to tell.
Now that Maddy’s family has opened up about what happened and urged that her story be shared publicly far and wide, I feel comfortable writing about Maddy today and passing along the Murphy family’s message. I’ve included her father Mike’s post below: Maddy’s Story.
I live away from home now, so I only had a handful of opportunities to spend time with Maddy, but her life has touched my own. Maddy was a kind, funny, athletic girl, and my sister’s partner. She has left behind hundreds of people who fondly remember her dorky humour, love of animals, and easygoing attitude.
Her story is important not only because of her lasting legacy of kindness and love, but also because the way she left us was so shockingly unexpected, revealing the often silent yet intensely deep depths of depression. For a brief but agonizing time we were all waiting on breathing tests and brain scans, holding on to a slim hope that she would wake up in her hospital bed and have a chance at recovery, but we lost her.
It is immensely hard for the people left behind after suicide; I feel the pain of my sister so strongly, as well as that of my parents who have seen their beautiful daughter, who battles with mental illnesses of her own, crumble in response to the terrible news. Everyone struggles with a helpless feeling and the many painful questions that have no answers. I don’t know what to say or do other than to tell my family that I love them and I’m here for them, because there’s no getting around it- this is a horrible time. This is a new and painful reality that is hard to face- my father lost his best friend Jeff to suicide, so he understands the pain, and I hope he and Mom can help my sister heal. I’m very grateful for all of the friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers and everyone else who is supporting my sister right now as she grieves. I also hope my family can feel my love from afar, as I am thinking about them, and Maddy, constantly.
I’ve also wept for the people I’ve never met who are dealing with Maddy’s loss- her mother, her father, her siblings, all of her family and friends. I’m so sorry that this happened. It was overwhelming to see the huge number of people reaching out and sharing memories of their time with Maddy- clearly she will never be forgotten in the hearts and minds of so many people.
To Maddy’s family, and to my sister, thank you for sharing Maddy’s story. My heart is with you.
At the bottom of this post I have included some links, both Canadian and international, which offer support if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide or has been affected by a suicide loss. Please know you are never alone.
As I said this will be one of the longest posts you will ever read, and it will shed some light on how my life changed on September 12, 2019. If anything, please read the last few paragraphs as this is the underlying message we all need to hear.
My beautiful, vibrant, athletic, zest for life daughter Maddy Murphy has a story to tell. You all need to hear this and share with everyone you know because it’s so important as this affects so many people out there who are struggling with issues that we do not even know. Her story goes something like this…
From the moment she was born she was special, being a twin, she was the unlucky one who endured having her twin brother Mack sitting on top of her for the full term. I will always remember how we made jokes of her bent ear, crooked neck and cone shaped head from Mack. She was just amazing with those quirky features that went back to normal overtime, they were both healthy kids born at 7lbs4oz (Maddy) & 6lbs4oz (Mack). They both had a passion for all sports and excelled at everything they tried as they grew up together.
Maddy had a niche for hockey, her skating was strong (forward skating anyway), she quickly excelled playing for KVMHA in her early years. By the time she reached the age of 12 she earned a spot on the boys Pee Wee AAA Rangers Team. Maddy had a great year with the boys, this made her more determined as she set out to prove girls can play the game just as well. Maddy & Christina Rombaut were the only girls in the EDZA Program in the KV Area at that time, and the two teammates developed their talent that year, it was the beginnings of her crazy slap shot. Once Pee Wee was over the fun really began as the first Bantam AAA girl’s hockey team named the “Hericanes”, here Maddy developed bonds with her friends that are even stronger today than ever.
On the 2nd year of playing hockey something happened that changed her life in a moment, Maddy went to bed one night and woke up a different child. Maddy developed severe Tourette’s at the age of 14 with no explanation, this was the start of her first long battle that contained components with embarrassment, shame, ridicule and DEPRESSION. Maddy had to draw deep within herself as she focused on her sports with even a more determination than ever as she excelled to the top of her game. At the age of 15 one of her highlights was to play on the U18 Team Atlantic in Calgary for the Canadian Women’s Nationals, all along still dealing with Tourette’s and the silent disease of Depression. Maddy had many weekly sessions with Natural Path Therapy to try and ease the symptoms of Tourette’s & Depression, it was a battle. I still remember her always calling Tracy and asking to get in right away to help her, at least Maddy recognized she needed help and reached for it.
As Maddy began her high school years at KVHS in grade 9, she played hockey on the girl’s team while still playing for the Hericanes, there was a lot of running around to support the amount of hockey games. Going into grade 10 Maddy had the most fortunate opportunity to attend the elite school of Rothesay Netherwood ( RNS ), here she felt so welcomed she would spend so much time forming bonds with the girls in all sports. Maddy represented RNS in Hockey, Soccer, Rugby & even Volley Ball ( didn’t like ) sporting the number 9 ( #9 rides the pine ) the girls always cheered her on. This was every parent’s dream having their child immersed in such a great atmosphere.
Maddy was so happy or, so we thought….the disease that no one is aware of and what this whole story is about appeared for the first time. She was a kid of the times on top of her game but Maddy was holding a secret from everyone, this would weigh heavily on her Mental Health issues even more. That underling Depression finally showed itself for the first time when Maddy thought the best part of her escape was an attempt on her own life in the form of pills not only once but twice this happened. This took us all by surprise that we were dealing with a young daughter that was displaying a smile on her face & a unmistakable laugh, the whole time was hurting so much inside. Taking the pills was a cry for help, although the help was there she needed something more. Maddy spent the night in the hospital for observation and released to follow up with a clinical phycologist. She always knew she had a problem, she would often text Kelly see if time was available to see her, Kelly always made time for Maddy.
After some time, we finally found out the secret she was hiding inside, low & behold Maddy was “GAY” like what was the Big Deal, but in Maddy’s world it was a big deal. After facing years of Tourette’s causing shame, embarrassment & ridicule, fighting the invisible illness it all took a toll on her. Her grade 11 year was one of the hardest years, she was losing that drive & the will she had almost to the point where I felt she succumbed to the battle of Depression. She was bullied by someone who was supposed to be one of her closest allies but ended up being her worst nightmare. Her academic grades were being affected, sports were slipping all at the most crucial time in her life. With help from her closest friends Kristen & the gang they helped her overcome this battle and expose what was going on in Maddy’s life. These girls help her get through a rough time in her life and as a parent I was so thankful.
After the years of therapy and countless visits to alternative care, the Tourette symptoms started to subside, the “Being Out Of Closet” had closure, things seem to be going so much better. Maddy started university, working different jobs and living life with such a zest. Maddy attended UNBSJ in pursuit of her Arts Degree, we all know she wanted to go to University to keep playing the sports she loved. She worked 4 different jobs at the same time, Rockwood Golf Course full time, worked for Vito’s Restaurant part time, The Saint John Marina part time & Harbor Station part time. Everywhere she went she made an impact on people a trait Maddy obviously picked up from her mother Mindy. Everyone on the outside looking in, she looked like someone who had it all, she met a beautiful girl named Chyanne & eventually fell in love. To the typical parents this was all good, things moving forward in life, she had the beginnings of a partner in life, dogs Bauer, Bailey & Thai, cats Sophie, Buddy & Tittin. Maddy always loved animals so much, she always wanted to pet every animal she seen and bring them home.
Maddy was a genuine kid who everyone thought loved life, she was known to post inspirational quotes and party like there was no tomorrow. Maddy & Chy traveled a lot and got to experience some spontaneous trips to see concerts or get their feet buried in the sand. Maddy had such a good relationship with Chy and they had so much fun together. Her young mind lacked the experience of life & relationships as she did not realize a relationship requires work. The highs and lows of all relationships are unavoidable, but to someone battling depression as Maddy has all these years, they look at though there is no light at the end of the day. She coped with her Depression the best way she knew how.
On Sept 12, 2019 my daughter Maddy Murphy thought the best way to ease her pain was to take her own life, she was a determined girl driven to succeed in everything she tried and unfortunately succeeded in her final task. The final chapter of her story will sum it all up on what the real meaning of this whole life story is about and why we ended up with a beautiful soul taken from us way to early.
Maddy had depression & knew it, its not like she didn’t try to help herself. Maddy went to countless therapy sessions in all forms, from Acupuncture, massages, chats with phycologist. She went to the family doctor and asked for an ESA ( Emotional Support Animal ) and purchased a Golden Retriever, she named him Beckett. Maddy has a passion for animals and Beckett would be ready for her in January. Just 10 days prior to Maddy taking her life she went to the Outpatient and asked for different meds as she knew she was not feeling well, she did this all on her own without telling anyone. The disease she has been battling was taking over and no one even knew. The biggest mistake Maddy ever made was the failure to see the support that was in front of her, she had a loving family with so many friends. When dealing with this sickness she was blinded by the pain she was in. I will never figure out what was going through her mind when she decided to follow through what she thought would be the best way to ease her pain.
Here is a girl who was so outgoing, determined, and everyone thought she loved life, we were all mistaken, all of us!
Depression is the “Silent Killer” that no one sees or hears, it strikes at the most vulnerable time in your life and leaves you helpless. This is the most important thing of all, this is what needs to be shared. Maddy’s life looked so good from the outside, but this is how she deflected her pain, by being the life of the party, working as hard as she could, playing her heart out in her sports, THIS is how she coped with Depression. Look around you nobody knows what is going on in people’s lives, just when you think things are so good they may not be. This disease of the mind can be so hidden with so many outlets for it to take a hold of people one wrong move and it has you. Don’t judge people based on their life from looking on the outside, get to know that person find out who they really are. We thought we knew our own kid better than anyone and never realized we would be sitting here trying to make sense of it all.
Everyone needs to remove the Stigma of this terrible debilitating disease, its out there and everyone experiences at some point in their life, its how we can recognize it and cope with it that makes the difference. The only thing I ask is for people to recognize the “not so” obvious symptoms, as no family should ever have to live through a tragic event like this. This was a complete tragedy that made no sense at all but if a positive can come of this that would shed light on the real “Boogey Man” Maddy’s story needs to be told. Maddy was so full of life yet such a hurting little girl inside. This is the sign that people need to see, the façade she was putting on for everyone around her. If this was a movie she would deserve an Oscar, I just wish it really was……
Maddy didn’t understand the consequences of her actions but at the time dealing with this terrible disease all she could think about is to end the suffering. Her suffering has now ended, I am at peace knowing she is not suffering anymore but my suffering through this tragic loss of life has only begun. My entire family has lost a piece of our hearts that we will never get back and we are devastated. No one should ever have to bury their kids. Please keep your loved ones a little closer, talk to them freely about Depression no one should ever need to experience what we just went through.
You touched the lives of so many at such an early age, I know there was more of you to give if I had only one wish it would to turn back time and be able to say goodbye.
May you rest in peace Maddy Murphy, you will be dearly missed and never forgotten!
Madison Claire Murphy born April 8, 1998 – September 16, 2019 #MM81 live on!
Beckett will be raised by our close friends, so Maddy’s spirit will live on, Beckett will be a reminder of a lost soul that had so much to offer this world and we are so thankful for this! #YOUmatter #MENTALHEALTHMATTERS
its ok to not be ok!
When I was a kid, we didn’t get out for spur-of-the-moment shopping trips much since my Dad did shift work and my Mom, who also worked, was a homebody who would plan driving routes and trips carefully in advance with some anxiety. She would stress the need to be home within a couple of hours lest the dogs spontaneously combust in her absence. My parents are totally wonderful and I had a happy childhood filled with books and comics, but it didn’t really include comic shops.
In my teen years, I would sometimes visit the Chow’s Variety shop that was a 20 minute walk from my house, but it was more of a specialty magazine shop that just so happened to have some comics (alongside plastic-wrapped nudie mags, fish bait, and baseball cards), so the pickings were slim.
Today I’ve finally become familiar with my local comic shop, Nerdvana- it’s a little gem in Fort McMurray with comics, manga, graphic novels, figurines, and kind, attentive staff.
Nerdvana staff teamed up with some local filmmakers and friends in the last couple years to create a really cool web series that recently won an award for Best Ensemble Cast at the Miami Web Fest! The first season has been completed and hopefully a second season is forthcoming…
I’ve got a couple of ongoing comic subscriptions at Nerdvana right now (Snotgirl, The Crow, Isola, Lady Mechanika) and it’s fun to pick them up and chat with the staff about nerdy things. I also enjoy the serendipity of browsing a physical store, and I’m happy to support a small local shop run by friendly people who do cool stuff in our community!
My friend Jake volunteers at Shaw TV and they were looking for a fun new local program to pick up. He pitched an idea and they liked it! And so, he enlisted myself and a few other geeks to come together for a show called Nerds At A Table (where we, some nerds, play tabletop games- get this- at a table!)
Local business Tactical Magic Games is letting us film on location in their store. We’ve filmed 3 episodes with Shaw so far, and I can’t wait until they air (they’ll also be available online!)- for now, here is our intro teaser!
Somehow I was bestowed the title “Punny Mastermind” (ok yeah, I love puns and use them liberally, but I wouldn’t say i’m a mastermind of any sort XD)
Each episode we will have a guest player from the local nerd community joining us.
No matter what ultimately happens with our show (local legend? public access cringe compilation?) I’ve really enjoyed filming it so far!