Contributed by María Cristina Sabourin-Jovel (Queen María)
September 21st 2021, lights on! Last mic check! The Spoken Word Café was live on Zoom. Nerves, expectations, butterflies! Writers from the eight groups that the WCC runs in Ottawa delighted the audience with their brave creations. Some spoke about the intergenerational trauma of residential schools; others discussed the challenges of living with mental illness. Scars, childhood memories, staying grounded, a love letter to one’s skin, changes in seasons, a tale of love and loss, and playful dreams, all were part of this amazing night. An amazing dance choreography was inspired in one of the francophone pieces of the evening.
I started writing as a way to survive the deep loneliness I was experiencing after a self-imposed isolation, trying to stay safe and out of COVID’s path. A painful separation from the only support system I had, resulted from speaking about my experiences as a brown person, the nightmares, the countless sleepless nights, after seeing people who look like me, being killed in broad daylight with total impunity. Many, who had always welcomed me, refused to hear what I had to say.
Writing came to my rescue giving me hope, when I lost mine, and showing me what gratitude is. I felt heard and accepted in all WCC workshops. That is what the magic of WCC is, giving a safe place to all, an oasis in which I could be myself. After participating in almost every open workshop for more than a year, I decided it was time to share my gift with others, becoming a facilitator and establishing the first BIPOC group of WCC, in combination with the Centretown Community Centre. Nowadays, I cannot make it through a couple of days without sharing my thoughts in writing. I am hooked for life. Writing and the WCC, became my new, unconventional lover. The café was the culmination of a year of hard work.