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From Avid to Activist: Creating Change through her Voice

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TW: This story includes conversations on hate and islamophobia.  We invite our community members to read it if it’s the right time for them. If you need support, please visit Crisis Text Line, Kids Help Phone or Better Help!

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We have the power, the question is how far we can go with it, and there’s only one way to find out: to use it. The power I’m referring to is positive social change since I’m an activist. I’m Alisha, and I’m standing alongside you in a storm to battle hate hoping for the next rainbow. The world doesn’t run on laws. It runs on its citizens. All its citizens. CBC News, the Globe and Mail, and many more platforms highlighted my articles and what I’m doing to combat Islamophobia and all hate , but what’s more important to say is that I couldn’t have done it without the support of communities like this one.

 

I’m sure you all know about what hate comments look like, and they took a toll on me.  In fact, when I created a resource for the school to combat Islamophobia, it was blocked by the regional level, so I brought it to my Trustee who I am grateful for because I presented it at the Board’s equity conference and other seminars, so all of you are proof that the hate may be strong, but the love is stronger. However, this didn’t just come out of nowhere; for years, I’ve fought for youth to be at the center of change through being a Page at the Assembly of Ontario, a Co-chair in my Boards’s Student Senate, activist for UNICEF, Riding Rep. for my provincial Youth Cabinet, Speaker at Plan International and more. Currently, I’m working on projects highlighting marginalized voices in my city, and because a federal election is coming up, I work with an organization (non-partisan) to encourage all youth to educate themselves and vote.

 

Constantly, I feel like the best I’ve done is the least I could’ve done, and as that has both positive and negative sides to it, I’m working towards creating a balance for myself since what I do takes a mental toll due to the stress and fact that my success depends upon the public, but it’s important to remember to never depend on anyone for my worth.

For anyone looking to do activism or achieve any goal, know that your goals are achieved by bringing yourself up, not by bringing others down, and those are not the same thing.

Even when I was belittled/dragged, I made sure, each time, to focus on elevating myself.  My head had to be in the game which is a given, but I quickly figured my heart had to as well, which is why breaks are important. Positive changemakers are often considered as threats, but don’t give in to the hate. Your mind is your best asset, and you have lives to change. You have all the tools you need to build your new building, so get outside your current one, your comfort zone (being scared is normal- it’s a good thing!) and start.

 

Your voices shouldn’t only be heard, but should be accounted for actual action, and we each leave our imprints in the process. I think you each have your own version of my story and we’ve been discriminated against,  but no one is impaired from making a change, and that’s why we’re here.  Everyone is different, but many have been considered “too different”.

Youth don’t just want to survive here, we want to thrive.

It also shouldn’t take a massacre or loss of lives to bring to light the daily struggles marginalized groups face, and we can’t let that spotlight be removed. No one is too young to experience hate as we saw, but you’re also not too young to experience love, and we need more of it. After each event, change was promised, but this change doesn’t lie in your hands, it lies in your voice.

Together, we can do so much and bring the unity in “community”.

Education has a start but no end. Politics has an end, but human rights have been here ever since humans walked the Earth. Hurting one human sends an alarm to the rest of the human population. We’re all connected by love. Let’s act like it.

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