Social justice has always been a part of my life even though I was not quite aware of it. I was born and raised in a refugee camp in Thailand. At the age of six, my family and I immigrated to Canada with the help of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other organizations that help displaced families. Canada has been a safe haven for us for the past thirteen years. Growing up in this country has been a blessing for me; it has given me many opportunities such as being able to attend school, meet new people, and travel with others who share the same passion and interest as I.
I was one of the first graduates of the newly established Mother Teresa Middle School in Regina. After high school, I answered God’s call and went to St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission in Bruno, Saskatchewan to participate in their 9-month faith formation program. Upon completion, I returned home and enrolled at Campion College at the University of Regina. I studied health and Catholic studies for a semester and then switched to education and kinesiology with a dream of being a physical education teacher.
Up until the conference in Ottawa, I didn’t pay much attention to social justice issues because it wasn’t an area of life that I believed to be of a high priority. Going to JUST Change, a conference focused on advocacy and the importance of practicing it, I was given a boost of confidence to talk about current social justice issues. This transpired through the events we participated in. Some of these activities include going to the Museum of History; and Gavin Charles of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) giving us tips on how we should talk to our MPs and the importance of advocacy.
The visit to the Museum of History had a significant impact on me because, often in school, Canadian history is only taught from a European point of view and not from an Indigenous one. I liked how the museum presented it from both the Indigenous and European perspectives.
Gavin Charles gave us some good insights on what questions to ask the Members of Parliament staff and how to ask them. Some of the insights he gave us include: when you are meeting with your MP, make sure to have a plan/goal on what you want to talk about; be prepared to exert pressure on them especially when they try and avoid giving a direct answer; and the most important one is to follow up with the MP after your meeting.
I didn’t realize how important advocacy was until the conference. Advocacy is key to addressing social justice issues. Everyone has an issue that is close to their heart. I am a part of the Pro-Life
group on campus. After realizing advocacy influences outcomes, I started my activism with the Pro-Life team immediately after I came back from Ottawa to talk with people on campus to enact change.
JUST Change has changed my views on the importance of social justice issues and advocacy. Advocacy is a very important tool for promoting social justice and change. We have to start advocating for issues close to our hearts because no one will do that for us.