Selam Debs on Creating Inclusive Spaces and Building a Strong Voice as an Ethiopian-Canadian Womyn. PART TWO.
STORIES OF RESILIENCE
EPISODE 2. PART TWO.
A force of nature. A fierce social justice advocate. A mother. A Canadian. A black womyn. Owner & founder of JUICI YOGA studio in Waterloo, Ontario.
How Does One Become an Ally?
“This is such an important question. I can tell you first, how to *not* be an ally: You don’t depend on people who are oppressed to educate the general population. If you have the privilege to access books and education, it is extremely important that you go home and educate yourself.”
Find books. Spend time examining the world atlas.
Don’t just read about slavery. Read about the positive aspects of cultures - learn about different languages and foods and customs that make each culture unique.
Don’t paint everyone with the same brush. Learn the difference. Know the difference between someone who is from Ethiopia, someone who is from Jamaica, someone who is from Guyana.
We don’t assume that someone from Norway is the same as someone from Scotland, is the same from someone from Australia.
Why does society tend to group all Black and Brown people together?
There are over 50 countries in Africa, and multiple Caribbean islands, each with their own special culture. It’s important to make an effort to know who you’re talking to, and the importance of their history.
Learn to not call people in Canada, “African American”. This is a big one. I’ve been called “African American” so many times in my life. We have a different history in Canada. I am African-Canadian.
How Do You Define RESILIENCE?
“Resiliency isn’t something that you can try on, or that you can read about in a book. Resiliency is a LIVED experience. When you have experienced suffering in your life - which is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone - the experience of abuse, violence, racism, and trauma - then, you truly understand resilience. You can’t just try on resilience as a costume.”
What is One Piece of Advice That You’d Give To Other Womyn, Who Are Just Starting Their Journey on Healing From Sexual Violence, Abuse or Adversity?
“GET HELP. When I was a young girl, I didn’t talk to anyone. I was ashamed of my experiences. I carried everything in my body. When I started to bring my shadows into the light, they started to weigh less on me. I began realizing that I needed to tell my story. I needed to RE-CLAIM my history. To RE-CLAIM my past. I have a holistic life coach, a Reiki therapist, healers, yoga instructors, and a whole crew of Womyn by my side. I also had to move away from the toxic people in my life. I had to end toxic relationships.”
Now, I’m moving more and more toward emotional freedom. I build relationships that are healthy. That are filled with communication, and acceptance, where I can be unapologetically myself.
What is Your Definition of SELF-CARE?
I started thinking about my son. I knew that I wanted to led by example.
and YOGA. Yoga seemed like this secret world, that I was never introduced to, for my entire life. Finding yoga has been life-changing for me. There is still a major lack of diversity in the yoga community - we are slowly beginning to change that. We’re making an impact.
What Does it Mean to Be WOKE?
To be WOKE, is to take on the responsibility of really wanting to be aware in the world - even if it doesn’t feel good. Even if feels uncomfortable.
It’s a constant wanting to learn more. It’s a wanting to learn more about other people. To be aware of the privilege we all have in our lives. It’s learning to sit with our discomfort.”
Where Can We Find You, Online?
SELAM DEBS: PERSONAL WEBSITE:
SELAM DEBS: YOGA STUDIO: JUICI YOGA:
Such an honour to connect with Selam. More conversations to come.