Aboriginal Housing Program in Partnership with Chez Doris
Saturday June 9, 2018
This year, I embarked on a journey to do my part to give back to my local community, specifically, the Indigenous community through Divinart foundation.
Why the Indigenous community? My Tamil ancestors were resilient individuals who endured genocide, cultural erasure, and were oppressed (and still continue being oppressed to this day) in Sri Lanka.
Raised by resilient Tamil parents who fled from the civil war back home, I realized the unwavering parallel lives lived by the Indigenous community right here on this stolen land we call “Canada”. Indigenous peoples have been equally stripped away from their homelands, their rights, their freedom and continue to be oppressed on a daily basis.
I partnered with Chez Doris to donate welcome baskets for their Aboriginal Housing Program with the help of funding I received from TakingITGlobal through the Government of Canada as well as proceeds received through henna and hand-painted candles. Each basket was donated to newly housed Indigenous women who were either living in a shelter, on the streets or needed a new place (often times landlords don’t treat them well).
Apart from donating something small for these women, my main goal is to raise awareness but importantly to CHANGE the narrative that exists around Native people. I’ve always wondered why we live in a society where Indigenous people are always seen through a negative lens. Why doesn’t society celebrate them? Why don’t we see Indigenous people in the same spaces we’re in?
Below is a series of stories from a few of the many women I have helped so far to do my part to change the prejudice that exists around Native people. Click through them to read their stories of resilience.
Through the money raised from henna, hand painted candles, and a $750 grant from TakingITGlobal through the Government of Canada, a total of $1,384.83 was spent on housing materials for Indigenous women who were housed in new homes. The money that is raised through henna, candles, and donations go to empower the most vulnerable individuals and my responsibility is to show you how and be as transparent as possible.
Overall, this project has been one of the most meaningful and unforgettable experiences. Sharing stories and compassion with each of these women, moved me to tears but also empowered me in ways I can’t describe. Though if I was going to be honest, I had moments of hesitation of wanting to help but not overstep throughout this whole process. Regardless, each one of them taught me what sheer resilience in life looks like while overcoming systemic and institutional forms of oppression they face on a daily basis.
I hope this project has allowed you to be more aware of the realities of Indigenous people around you. And I hope the next time you cross paths with a Native person, you reflect on your bias and reflect on your inner thoughts. Lets continue to build allyship and stronger relationships through shared stories and experience.
We shall stand in solidarity.