To all of you risk takers I say hats off to you!

February 27, 2017

By CJ Rowe

I was sitting in a friend’s living room early one evening enjoying a potluck dinner with some amazing friends and community members. As our conversation moved along, one point shared moved me in a way that sent my mind spinning. We were talking about how difficult it can be to take risks at this point in time. Especially with the impact that comments and critiques on social media can have on all of us.

Sometimes these actions shut down the people in our communities who are striving to develop more inclusive and accountable events. Sometimes it feels like people are not talking and writing to real individuals with real emotions on social media platforms. Through this conversation, a friend shared this thought:

“In a culture of fear, it’s hard to take risks.”

In so saying this she was urging us to think of new ways to engage with one and other. In ways that allow us to connect and hear one and other as individuals and as community members. In ways that connect us as humans with emotions, histories and lived experience.

In this spirit, I wanted to say hats off to all the risk takers.

Here are a few risks that I have witnessed over the last few weeks.

  • Talking Stick Festival for bringing back Margo Kane’s play Moonlodge.
  • A room full of people who celebrated Tru Wilson being named as the 2017 Sexual Health Champion at the Opt Breakfast.
  • Everyone who has written emails and made phone calls to Senators demanding that they vote yes for Bill C-16. If you haven’t had a chance to engage there is still time!
  • Black Lives Matter Vancouver and everyone who read their petition and open letter.
  • The community members who are bringing light to the assaults taking place in Stanley Park.
  • The youth who came to their first GAB youth drop-in.
  • Parents who are supporting their newly out child and the children who are supporting their newly out parent.
  • The community members who gather to talk about how to do things differently so burnout is reduced and accountability can be an earmark of events.
  • The Elder who shared their experiences of the residential school system in Canada and encouraged ways of educating that link back to generations of Indigenous knowledge, community building and healing.

Some of these might not seem to be great risks taken. These risks do not have to be triumphant, they do not have to be finished, they can be messy and imperfect. What matters is that the risk was taken.

To all of you risk takers I say hats off to you!

Now you dear reader, what risks did you take that I didn’t have the privilege to witness? What risk takers did you witness? How do we hold these actions, whether we agree with them or not, and celebrate those who took risks in the hopes of making an impact?

When I think about all of these risks I would like to acknowledge that they are all taking place in different rooms and in different communities. People are taking these risks to be seen, to support their loved ones, to support themselves, to support their communities and to make change. These risks add up and are greater than the sum of their parts.

To you all, I say thank you.