Storytelling is at the heart of HumanEYES, an intergenerational school-centred, arts-based initiative thatcelebrates the diverse life experience of young people in BC classrooms.
Over the course of several workshops led by emerging artists and storytellers, students explore, integrate,and creatively embody the values of inclusion and diversity. This transformational program begins with the gradual creation of open and safe spaces to hold courageous conversations about diversity within families and between classmates. The program then provides opportunities for students to creatively reflect upon these conversations and their respective ancestries by working with artists and facilitators to develop their artistic skills, and ultimately foster more connected communities through art-based storytelling.
Since January 2012, HumanEYES has engaged 30 teachers/classrooms, 485 elementary students, 260 elders and community members, and 35 artists in the Lower Mainland and on the Southern Gulf Islands.
Work + Process
Take a look at some of the artwork that students have created, and have a peek into the experience of HumanEYES.
Words From Participants
I loved when we made the song “People with People” and sang it in front of all the classes at Strathcona. It was cool learning about other people’s lives. I loved how we worked with each other to create great ideas and projects.Student
This program creates an opportunity for families to learn more about each other and to grow closer. This then transfers into the classroom as the students learn that behind every person there is a multitude of
stories…This helps create a more accepting and inclusive environment.
HumanEYES has convinced me that creativity, dialogue, and the sharing of our personal histories opens a space where our diversities can truly be honoured.Rup Sidhu
Kim Villagante - Facilitator
Kim’s Ancestry dates back to the Philippines but she was born on Unceded Coast Salish Territory. Much of her passion for all things arts, but her deepest connections are to hip-hop, the art of word, drawing and acting. She Identifies as an artivist as Kim uses art not just as a form of expression but also a form of resistance within a system that was not built for people like her and for the people she loves. Kim is a graduate of UBC’s Visual Arts and Art History program, however, much of her education and deschooling has come about outside of institutional setting and rather through grassroots organizing, hip hop social justice communities and through listening to hip-hop music and spoken word. Kim is drawn to this work because she recognizes how her knowledge on social issues are not isolated from climate justice issues. The land, water and all of mother earth, play a part in a community’s healing and growth and she wants to be a part of connecting those two dots.
Ayendri Perera - Lead Facilitator
Ayendri is a Sri Lankan born Vancouver-based activist, facilitator, and youth organizer. She is passionate about intersectional social movements and has been active for years with organizing rooted in anti-oppression, decolonization, and environmental justice. In the past, Ayendri worked with Youth 4 Global Change, a youth action team committed to the eradication of poverty and inequality, in all of its forms. Currently, Ayendri works with AMES as a mentor and lead facilitator, organizing our facilitation team. She is also currently a facilitator with AMES’ current HumanEYES program.
Puja Prakash - Facilitator
Puja is a community educator working towards building capacity among communities through arts and dialogue based workshops and programs. She moved to Vancouver from Mumbai, two years ago, where she worked with youth in urban slums on a wide range of issues from public hygiene to social justice and self-expression. Puja likes to spend as much of her time as she can connecting to nature and the unceded land on which she now lives. She believes that this connection is important and shapes one’s identity, stories, and experiences.
Molly Billows - Facilitator
Molly Billows comes from the Xwémalhkwu (Homalco) Nation. She is of mixed ancestry and grew up in the area around Victoria, BC. She moved to Vancouver four years ago to attend university. She is entering her final year in the Global Resource Systems Program in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, where she is focusing on Indigenous Peoples and Land Health. She is currently volunteering and doing research with the Culturally Relevant Urban Wellness (CRUW) Program, and feels so much gratitude for being able to work with youth, elders and knowledge keepers at the UBC Farm on the beautiful territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking Musqueam people. She also works with Access and Diversity at UBC as a program assistant with the ‘Really?’ campaign, a program which aims to empower individuals to respond to discriminatory comments and situations, and is on the executive team of the First Nations Studies Student Association (FNSSA).
HumanEYES offers an engaging, and creative model for intercultural and intergenerational empathy and relationship building that touches upon all three of the ‘core competencies’ that the BC Ministry of Education identified as priorities: Communication, Critical Thinking and Personal Awareness, and Social Responsibility. Over the course of 7 workshops (that range in length between 90 and 120 minutes), each participating class has the opportunity to gain basic tools to identify and challenge discriminatory and exclusionary practices, engage in a range of creative reflection exercises and participate in a class-wide creative collaboration that encourages inter-generational and inter-cultural storytelling and relationship building.
Specific curricular links include:
• The development of communication skills (verbal and non-verbal; interpersonal, small and large group) through creative collaboration.
• Personal awareness and confidence-building through creative self-expression, public performance and the strengthening of social ties among students, artists, and the elders students interview.
• Critical thinking through exercises that introduce students to concepts of power, privilege, and systemic inequities.
• Social Responsibility through activities that provide meaningful acknowledgment of the territories, and encourage students to identify and challenge discriminatory and exclusionary practices, attitudes and behaviours.
A central component of the 2015/2016 program was an activity in which students interviewed and cooked with an elder. Because last year’s program was so enriching and successful, we have opted to make the creation of a series of intergenerational cookbooks the focus of the program during the 2016/2017 school year.
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Access to Media Education Society (AMES)
141 Sturdies Bay Road, Galiano Island
BC V0N 1P0, Unceded Coast Salish Territory