“Don’t underestimate the power of your voice.”
As over 100 staff and students joined remotely to listen to local poet Nadine Williams on February 5, they discovered that her writing workshop focused less on technique and more on directing change.
“My advocacy is through the power of my pen,” explained Williams. An immigrant from Jamaica, Williams’ work is shaped by her roots, with a particular focus on Black experiences.
Addressing the Black Lives Matter marches around the globe which were fueled by the recent injustices within the Black community, Williams explained that her form of protest is through her written words.
But ink to paper is only powerful when the intent comes from genuine passion.
“In order to address a problem, you first have to admit there is a problem,” she said.
For Williams, her advice can be summed up in the title of her workshop: “Name it and Change it – Anti-Black Racism.”
When you address something for what it is, instead of putting specific issues under broad umbrella terms, you create an opportunity for meaningful conversation.
Is it uncomfortable? Absolutely. But that’s her point.
“The events that have happened over the last little bit have given us the courage to speak up. To use our voices,” she said.
Her biggest advice?
Just start. Find inspiration, ask questions and start writing. Whether it comes from discussions on privilege, immigration, allyship or colourism, just start.
Then share. And edit. Write more. Share.
But most importantly: start.
“The world might not always cheer you on so do not be afraid to be your own cheerleader.”
And while the workshop was scheduled as part of a series of Black History Month events, the advocacy doesn’t stop on March 1st.
“You must put in the work, not just in February, but 365 days of the year,” she urged.
Because if not you, then who, she asked.
“Youth are our future. You are the people that will carry on this message and the heavy lifting that is needed. And it’s important that we start now.”
And anyone can lead the conversation Nadine encouraged.
“We are all in this together. It is not just for the Black person, Black History is not just for Black people, it is Canadian History, it is a part of all of our history.”
So, keep writing.
“Allyship is a verb, it’s something you do. It’s not something you do today and when the hashtags end you don’t do it tomorrow. You continue to do it.”
“For me, writing has always been my outlet. I want to encourage you to find yours.”
To learn more about Nadine and her work, please visit: