Justice advocates respond to Arnprior mayor’s claim that systemic racism doesn’t exist Community, Justice Katie Perfitt, a racial justice advocate based in Arnprior, said that the mayor’s ability to disregard these stories of racism in Arnprior is demonstrative of how embedded it is in society. Continue Reading LRT meeting with city turns skepticism to optimism for Nepean tenants Community, Politics, Transport “The concern was that we did not get to pick our own representatives,” Trowbridge said. “There are a few of us who have stuck this fight out the entire time and have been organizing and leading. It would have been nice to pick our own representatives.” Continue Reading Curly Hair Designs owner focuses on hair academy during pandemic shutdowns Business, Community "I think the impact a lot of the time is more so emotional than anything, you know I think that the finances you can kind of [...] the wage subsidies, and the rent subsidies, there's different ways to kind of have that you know be something that helps over time," added Whitelocke. Continue Reading COVID-19 creativity: Ottawa Black artists reflect on their work in the pandemic Community, COVID-19, Culture “The most prevalent situation where my art was affected by what was going in the world was probably at the start of the pandemic,” Nim said. “When the Black Lives Matter movement skyrocketed and became fueled by everyone being stuck at home, that was when I felt most affected by what was going on outside.” Continue Reading


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Stefan Perić is standing in front of a wall of his art, wearing a BOYSDONTDRAW face mask and sunglasses.Stefan Perić started BOYSDONTDRAW in 2017 and recently launched a new clothing line titled the Artist Series. Photo courtesy of Stefan Perić.

Community, Culture

Local art initiative BOYSDONTDRAW has launched a new clothing line.

BOYSDONTDRAW was founded by Stefan Perić in March 2017. The company sells prints, clothing, stickers and posters along with participating in art shows and other creative endeavours.

“The main source of inspiration for everything is like hip-hop and pop culture,” Perić said.

In February, Perić launched the Artist Series which is a themed collection highlighting Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Barbara Kruger and Takashi Murakami.

Perić said that these four artists influence his style.

“I take something kind of from every one of these artists in a way,” he added.

Perić noted that he wanted to do a collection that branched out from hip-hop culture so, naturally, he looked to artists as the motivation.

“It started out as a project in one of my classes with event management and it kind of blew up from there,” he said. “I thought of my biggest inspirations in art and decided to highlight them basically.”

BOYSDONTDRAW confirmed on social media that the company plans to drop a new “Clothing & Print capsule” every month in 2021.

Perić explained that he has been passionate about art, design and clothing since he was a child.

“Everything leading up to this point probably started out in the sixth grade,” he said.

“I was doing skateboarding camp and I was just kind of like amused by what went into running a skate shop and having your own sort of clothing to go with it and your own products,” Perić said.

“For the longest time I wanted to open up my own skate shop and that dream just sort of evolved into wanting to start my own clothing to you know wanting to incorporate my art in some way,” he added.

Perić described BOYSDONTDRAW as the main thing he wants to focus on in his life.

“I know that I want to do something that involves art, and I know that I love style and clothing and you know it all kind of seems like a good mix of everything that I’m interested in,” Perić said.

“When I think about what I wanna do with this in the future I’m just like the possibilities are endless and I’m committed to this and this is something that I really enjoy doing,” he added.

Perić noted that his motivation comes from the unique things happening in the world around him.

“There’s always some cool hip-hop that I’m listening to or some cool pop culture moments that are happening and it’s nice to sort of capture everything within my sort of lens,” he said.

The BOYSDONTDRAW website can be found here.

Here is Stefan Perić speaking with CHUO:

Local art entrepreneur launches new clothing line

Sierra-Anne Conville

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A young woman in a hijab holding a mask to her face‘It’ Different For Us’ photo project sheds light on the struggles of marginalized youths during the pandemic. Photo by Faisa Omer.

Community, COVID-19, Justice

The South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre launched a photo project to amplify the voices of the marginalized youth in the south end of Ottawa and shed light on their struggles during the pandemic.

The project, called “It’s Different For Us,” was launched on Feb. 18, 2021, and showcases the photographs and quotes from stories told by these youths as they face different challenges.

Urge Ibrahim, health promoter for youth at the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre, says they are “very pleased” at the centre with the public reception of the project.

“The reception has been really great. A lot of youth are sharing that they really resonate with the youth we’ve interviewed,” she says, noting that many share the same struggles.

Financial struggles and academic hardship were among many of the interviewees’ hardships.

“I’m a first-generation student. When it comes to academic support, I don’t have anyone to look to at home,” one youth is quoted saying.

Faisa Omer, the photographer of the project, says the systemic barriers and injustices these racialized communities face “is another pandemic… Because this community is going through both, I think that it’s just more important to share their stories.”

“Pre-coronavirus, people who are racialized, like myself, we have unique obstacles,” she says, citing the Black Lives Matter protests after the death of George Floyd over the summer.

Ibrahim says a goal of the project is to highlight this pre-existing division of racial inequality which has resulted in visible minorities experiencing the pandemic differently.

Not only do these communities face systemic barriers as a result of being racialized, but they are being impacted more severely by the pandemic.

Within the south-east end of Ottawa is the neighbourhood of Ledbury-Heron Gate-Ridgemont. This neighbourhood has the highest proportion of low-income households in the city as well as the most cases of COVID-19 per capita with a cumulative rate of 4,716 confirmed COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 people.

41.2 per cent of households are affected by poverty and 65 per cent of the area’s residents are non-white, according to the Ottawa Neighbourhood Study.

Across the city, disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19 are impacting ethnically diverse neighbourhoods.

“People’s lives are at stake here,” says Omer. “I don’t think we talk about it enough and this project was just a different way to amplify those voices and start that discussion.”

Omer says she never thought her artwork could cause so much discussion around a certain issue.

A young woman making eye contact with the camera while wearing a mask

One of the south-east end of Ottawa youth interviewed for the “It’s Different For Us” project. Photo by Faisa Omer.

“When it comes to my photography I like to kind of capture the subject while they’re telling their story,” she says. “Then I take the photo so their eyes convey their emotions at that moment and how they’re feeling about the story they’re telling.”

Like Omer, Ibrahim also notes these communities are facing “a whole other pandemic.”

“It’s a high population of vulnerable communities, low-income families, marginalized communities,” says Ibrahim. “These are the families and youth that we work directly with and the communities that they’re from are the hardest hit for sure.”

She says youth are often an “easy target” for blame during the spread of the pandemic while there is no evidence to back this up.

She also says these youths in the photo project shared feelings of anxiety for the future as they don’t know what to expect in a pandemic.

“They’re really struggling because of the province-wide restrictions and the services and supports that they typically access are no longer there or are quite limited,” says Ibrahim. “They’re just trying to navigate this new reality but with the right services and support hopefully this project can help guide the discussion for what’s next.”

Here are Urge Ibrahim and Faisa Omer speaking with CHUO:

Photo project shows pandemic barriers for south end marginalized youth

Lauren Roulston

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A screenshot of a Zoom call showing three speakers on the screenSedanah Qwai (top left), Kyle Edwards (top right) and Pacinthe Mattar (bottom) talk about what it’s like to be racialized in the newsroom. Photo by Gabby Calugay-Casuga.

Community, Education, Justice

The Association for Equity and Inclusion in Journalism (AEIJ) hosted its first ever panel event yesterday.

The association, based in Carleton University, was created in the fall of 2019 after an article by Carleton Journalism School alumnus, Atong Ater, revealed the difficulties Black students face when studying journalism.

According a faculty liaison for the AEIJ, Prof. Brett Popplewell, Ater’s article sparked a conversation around what meaningful diversity in journalism looked like. This conversation inspired the creation of the AEIJ which has been working to diversify Carleton’s journalism school ever since.

“Our mission is to make the journalism school a safef space for Black, Indigenous, and students of colour, 2SLGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities/disabled students,” the AEIJ’s mission statement says.

Thursday’s event, according to a student member of AEIJ, Sedanah Qwai, was the first time the association hosted a panel event that anyone could attend. Qwai said it was a big step in furthering the AEIJ’s mission of education.

“I think by opening this event to other people, it allows for people outside the association to be able to benefit from the conversation,” Qwai said.

Pacinthe Mattar, an Egyptian-Canadian journalist and panelist for the event, said she was feeling great after the event.

“It was such an engaged group, and the questions were so excellent,” Mattar said. “It was fun but also challenging because the questions we got were some of the most pressing questions about journalism and this industry.”

Kyle Edwards, an Indigenous journalist from Canada and the other panelist for Thursday’s event, used his time on the panel to talk about what diversity in journalism looks like right now and how it can improve.

“Newsrooms not only need to be diverse but needs it to be reflect in our coverage,” Edwards said. “When we hire people of colour, that doesn’t necessarily change what stories we are covering.”

Mattar also said during the event the diversity of stories is important if there is to be meaningful representation in media.

“I really like to think journalism is going to get better for the journalist and for the audiences we serve,” Mattar said.

Mattar said she hopes to see more diverse stories being run by media outlets.

“There is still a very narrow view of who the imagined audience is. It is predominantly White, middle class and older. But Canada is not only these things. We are much more than that,” Mattar said.

Mattar said she hopes a change diversity in the newsroom will help not only aspiring BIPOC journalists but the community as a whole.

“I hope this breaks open what our imagined audience is, and that audience gets to see themselves represented in more meaningful ways,” Mattar said.

Carleton University association for equity in journalism hosts first panel event

Gabby Calugay-Casuga

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Leto Koker is wearing a black shirt and sitting in front of greenery.Leto Koker describes the Black experience on the Carleton University campus. Photo courtesy of Leto Koker.

Community, Culture

Former Carleton University student Leto Koker who studied Criminology, said his experience as a Black person on campus was positive overall but said that there is room for more representation at the university.

Koker, 21, used to live in an area where seeing other Black kids at school was few and far between. But this shifted once he started attending Carleton: Koker explained that he met all different kinds of Black people from different parts of the world.

“Of all the places that I lived, the Carleton campus was probably the place I would see the most concentrated group of Black people my age like ever,” Koker said.

“It felt like I was able to form a community there,” he added.

He said he appreciated all the clubs that were available and he built strong connections with his Black peers. Koker added that the activities that promoted inclusivity were mostly student led.

When it came to Black History Month, Koker said that there weren’t a lot of events or programming that he found on campus. Koker described it as an “uphill battle” to find things that were more powerful than something like a movie night.

While Koker did find inclusive spaces on campus, he also explained that there was an inadequate representation of the Black community amongst professors and teaching assistants.

“I think the only time I ever had a Black teacher was for an African studies course,” Koker said.

“It was always white TAs and white teachers,” he added.

Koker said that because of COVID-19, he is unsure whether he will return to Carleton at a later date.

“If the opportunity arises, I would love to go back to Carleton,” Koker said.

Here is Leto Koker talking with CHUO:

Former Carleton student talks being Black on campus

Sierra-Anne Conville

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