The series title was inspired by another of our storytellers: B.C. artist and self-advocate Teresa Pocock, who in 2014 created the slogan for her successful public campaign to defend her right to choose where she lived. “Our ‘I love my human rights’ storytelling project grew from the idea that it’s much harder to cling to stereotypes, biases or hateful views of others when we can understand and relate to their stories,” says Commissioner Govender. “Empathy and emotional connection can be powerful corrosive agents against hate and discrimination.”

Teresa Pocock

  • Video Transcription

    My name is Teresa Pocock. I like cherry tomato, queen olives and mayonnaise sandwich. I am 55 and a self-advocate.

    I’m an artist, author and a poet. I have Down Syndrome but I am capable.

    I love my human rights.

    Interviewer: You didn’t want to live in a nursing home, did you?

    Teresa: No I don’t. No, that’s wrong.

    Last fall, the CCAC said I couldn’t make my own decisions. The CCAC said I couldn’t decide where I live or who cares for me. That is wrong. It’s my human right to decide. It’s my decision where I live.

    I did not want to live in a nursing home, that’s not nice.

    Now I’m in the community. I live in Vancouver, Gastown and Abbott Street.

    I live with Bill James and Franke and Teresa. The community is helping us.

    I love my human rights. Pretty amazing. Like me.

Teresa Pocock is a B.C. artist and self-advocate who launched a successful public campaign in 2014 to defend her right to choose where she lived.

A conversation guide has been prepared to assist groups (businesses, organizations, classrooms) explore themes in the “I love my human rights” series. Teresa’s video shares the power of self-advocacy and the right of those with intellectual disabilities to choose where they live. Use the questions provided to explore the video’s themes.

Conversation guide for grades 4 to 9 ▼

 

Conversation guide (youth to adult) ▼

 

It’s my decision where I live. I love my human rights.”

Teresa Pocock

Brandon Yan

  • Video Transcription

    When you’re young, and you’re in elementary school or in your neighbourhood group of kids, there’s no really deep discussion about race or gender or sexuality for the most part. It wasn’t something that I was confronted with until I got a bit older and people start treating you differently. Having a Chinese dad when everyone’s dad looks different and everything around you doesn’t necessarily reflect your reality. And that does something to you as a person of colour or someone who doesn’t fit into that mould. A lot of mixed race people will also say it’s hard to feel like you belong anywhere because you’re not Chinese enough to exist here you’re not white enough to exist here. Even though I’m half and half I’m half white and half Chinese, I feel like I don’t have the ownership over checking the white box. I also felt a lot of shame earlier in my life about checking that Chinese box. Being a gay, Asian man there’s a lot of stigma about being Asian in the gay community as well. In many ways, leaning into my queerness really helped me reconcile my mixed heritage as well. No one gets to set what my identities are that is my experience, it’s my lived reality. What we don’t get to choose is how people react to it. Being a visible minority in a time that we’re in right now of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian hate crimes are skyrocketing — You can be the best model minority you can be and what model means in this sense is like, how close to white can you get? It doesn’t matter at the end of the day when someone wants to do hateful things to you. Queer Joy is central to a lot of the activism that I’ve done in my work. We’re typically inundated with these messages that when you’re gay or trans, your life will be hard. The counterbalance to that is Queer Joy and you see that in a lot of new media especially more independant media done by queer and trans artists. The power of that positive influence it’s about creating that mental picture of possibility. What would it be like to be your full self? To be seen and to be accepted and to succeed as a whole human being? The more you know yourself, the more you’re able to advocate for your community as well.

Brandon Yan is the Executive Director of Out On Screen, a B.C. film and education non-profit that produces the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, and Out In Schools. In this video, he shares his experience grappling with his identity as a queer man of mixed Chinese-White heritage—including the discrimination he has faced and the happiness he has found.

A conversation guide has been prepared to assist groups (businesses, organizations, classrooms) explore themes in the “I love my human rights” series. In Brandon Yan’s film he shares the importance of identity, representation and joy. Use the questions provided to explore the film’s themes in a group setting.

Download the PDF ▼

 

Understanding white supremacy and internalized racism is key to not only supporting oneself but also other communities we need to stand in solidarity with.”

Brandon Yan

Danny Ramadan

  • Video Transcription

    The strongest thing that you have is a community. My name is Danny Ramadan. I’m a Syrian Canadian author, public speaker and an LGBTQ refugees advocate.

    I was born in Damascus in 1984. Damascus is 7,000 years old. It’s covered in jasmine trees, it’s dotted with historical sites, it’s such a beautiful city.

    It is disheartening for me to say that in Syria, the gay community is quite ostracized. It’s a crime to participate in homosexual relationships. It’s punishable by three years in prison. Some families would practice honour killing. When I was 17 or 18, I chose that time to come out to my family. Of course, it didn’t go well.

    My father and I, we had a humongous fight and I was kicked out of the house. I lived on the streets for a good couple of months, and then I left Damascus for the first time and ended up in Cairo, Egypt.

    In Syria, I started working under a pseudonym for The Guardian for foreign policy, also The Washington Post, writing about the Syrian civil war.

    I also had an apartment, a two bedroom that I owned. I started inviting friends over to this house, and the friends started to invite other friends and suddenly we have a community of like 150 queer and lesbian and trans folks who are coming into this house, who are finding a home, a community for themselves. Now, that didn’t last. In 2012 I was arrested at the Syrian International Airport in Damascus.

    I’m extremely grateful I was in Canada but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard. I would have to say that I was arrested in Syria, I went through civil war, I went through a lot of family drama, and the hardest year of my life was my first year in Canada.

    Yes, I came to safety, but I came to a country that I don’t fully understand. I love Canada. I love where I am. I love my home, I love my husband. I feel like I am doing my very best to recognize my own identity, but also to support real, actual humans before they come here to Canada.

    In September 2015, I decided that I wanted to sponsor somebody the same way that I was sponsored to come to Canada. Me and three or four other friends, we cooked for three days straight and we told everybody we’re having a house party / fundraiser and we called it “An Evening in Damascus.” I have been doing it ever since and over the past five years, I raised two hundred thousand dollars and I have participated directly in the sponsorship of 17 Syrian refugees.

    For every bird that you see on my tattoo, that is one person that I sponsored to leave Syria and to find a home here. And I left enough space for more. It’s a lot of fun to see what a person who has always been denied freedom is capable of doing when offered that freedom.

Danny Ramadan is a Syrian-Canadian author and LGBTQ+ refugee advocate. In this video, he shares his experience coming out and finding community, working as a journalist during the Arab Spring and Syrian civil war, being arrested and forced to leave Syria and starting over in Canada as a writer, public speaker and activist.

A conversation guide has been prepared to assist groups (businesses, organizations, classrooms) explore themes in the “I love my human rights” series. Use the questions provided to explore the film’s themes in a group setting.

Download the PDF ▼

 

It’s a lot of fun to see what a person who has always been denied freedom is capable of doing when offered that freedom.

Danny Ramadan

Anthony Brown

  • Video Transcription

    I learned absolutely nothing about Black history in school.

    This is a photograph of my father when he got a job up on Texada Island in 1966. This is a picture of my great grandparents, the ones that came from Oklahoma right at the turn of the 20th century. This is Sylvia Stark. She’s one of the Black pioneers on Salt Spring Island. It’s important for people to know about the contributions that these pioneers have made to the province of British Columbia.

    My name is Anthony Brown, and actually I am a historian slash renaissance man. I am a seventh generation Black Canadian on my father’s side and a third generation Black Canadian on my mother’s side. My father’s side came from Nova Scotia They were Scotian. Landed in Birchtown in 1875 under the guidance of Harriet Tubman.

    I could trace my mother’s roots right back to the plantation where they were enslaved in South Carolina. My great grandparents on my mother’s side, they came to Canada because of the Jim Crow laws in the United States, where Blacks were being lynched with the emergence of the Klan and the political turmoil in America. Instead of putting up with a system, they came to Canada. They had the fortitude and the smarts to come here. But yet, you know, there was a lot of racism in Canada, too.

    I was born in East Vancouver, and then my father ended up getting a job on Texada Island, in a place called Blubber Bay which is an open pit mine. And I remember being from East Vancouver, where it was a multitude of different cultures of different people and then moving to Texada Island, where there were no people of colour.

    And I remember getting on the school bus and the kids, you know, call me the N-word and this that and the other. When you’re told that you’re Black and you’re not going to amount to anything you actually start believing that.

    People still come up to me and whether it’s a conversation piece at a dinner party or whatever the case may be and say kind of juvenile things like “You got a nice tan” because it’s hot outside. Those things, they get a little tiresome, right.

    Black history in B.C. is important because it’s never been told, and it’s time that it gets showcased.

    I didn’t know anything until I went for a hike on Salt Spring Island. This truck pulls up. This Black lady gets out. She goes, “What family are you from?” And I look at her and say, what do you mean, “family?” And she was telling me about all these people that came to Salt Spring Island, Sylvia Stark and her family, and she took me to the graveyard and showed me where all these Black peope were buried. And that’s when I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker. That’s why I just I wanted to tell their story.

    The story about the Black pioneers in British Columbia. It’s a big story of a small group of people and the fortitude to go forward.

    The title of my second film is “Secret Victoria: The Rush for Freedom.” About the first Black pioneers of British Columbia.

    Film narrator: Entrepreneurs to labourers, barbers and restaurateurs, farmers and so they spread out quite diversely through Victoria and British Columbia Society.

    I’ve had people come up to me on the street: “Hey, I saw you on TV!” ”You know, hey, I never knew that!” That’s the power of film, the power of media. This is changing people’s attitudes.

    I was an angry young man. I didn’t know who I was as a person. I was not comfortable in my own skin. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten to know who I am and I actually love who I am.

    I want to write stories that tell the truth. And I want to put it in the public school system as a learning tool. We have to be better as teachers. We have to be better as parents to teach our kids properly and sooner or later, this attitude of racism hopefully, if everybody can just do their little bit things will change. And that’s my hope. That is my hope for the future. I really wanted to say that.

Anthony Brown is a documentary filmmaker and seventh generation Black Canadian. In this video, Brown shares the importance of valuing and showcasing Black peoples contributions to British Columbia.

A conversation guide has been prepared to assist groups (businesses, organizations, classrooms) explore themes in the “I love my human rights” series. Use the questions provided to explore the film’s themes in a group setting.

Conversation guide for grades 4 to 9 ▼

 

Conversation guide (youth to adults) ▼

 

Black history in B.C. is important because it’s never been told, and it’s time that it gets showcased.

Anthony Brown