In February, ETT hosted workshops, offered an incredible book draw and shared resources and events happening during Black History Month. I was honoured to have the opportunity to design and facilitate a workshop for members that was offered during Black Mental Health Week – recognized during the first week in March. The workshop was entitled Unpacking the System Through Artistic Expression. It was an interactive workshop, where participants came together to discuss some of the challenges while considering ways in which practicing art and embracing our own creativity can help support our mental health and well-being journey. The evening was capped off by some time to get creative with black canvas and neon paint.
It was an absolute honour to have had this opportunity and I must admit that in the planning stages, I was a little nervous for a number of reasons:
- I know what interests me and I’m not always sure that it resonates with other members. I wanted this to be a space where people would have the opportunity to connect, share stories and strategies, and have fun painting. I knew that I wanted to share some of my experiences navigating the system and offer that to members but I’m also acutely aware that for many, sharing our stories is deeply personal and historically, the “safe” spaces often spoken about, don’t exist. In planning, I decided to stick to sharing my own experiences, some facilitation on white supremacy culture and really focusing on the joy that can come from creating.
- When I think of paint nights, people are usually painting the same image. For this session, I wanted participants not to focus so much on learning how to paint something but to have the freedom to be able to create what they wanted with the materials. I crossed my fingers and hoped that members would embrace the idea of being free to create.
- This was my first in-person workshop since the start of the pandemic. I still mask and sometimes feel a little awkward in new or unfamiliar settings where I might be the only one. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. Being greeted by a masked Juluis at the ETT office really went a long way to ease some of the last few jitters.
Our paint night was a success! It was great meeting, chatting, and creating with members. It was incredible how quickly time went by. So often, we are at events and thinking about what’s next. It was refreshing to see members who came prepared to fully engage. I have been on a mission to intentionally carve out time for experiences that bring me joy. For me, this was yet another opportunity and it was truly an honour.