Written by Ameer Ali, a youth leader of October's "Turbulent Landings" Community Tour.
I am originally from Iraq and I came to Edmonton about 7 years ago as a refugee. Soon after my arrival, I started junior high school. I began pursuing my passion, which is building my community. Whether that means volunteering in school activities or participating in the after school programs. With my experience as newcomer, I became youth leader in my community to create positive spaces and to help newcomer youth who struggled. I currently work as a tutor and I teach English during after school sessions.
I'm also part of Newcomers Are Lit, the Edmonton chapter of the Canadian Council for Refugees Youth Network. In this fascinating group youth and mentors come together to work, share stories, and create projects to address important social issues that many immigrants and refugees face. Collectively we have facilitated workshops locally and across Canada and connected with other youth networks. Everyday we are growing stronger and our dreams are rising. As a group we believe that youth have abilities and talents that can influence others and create a great change for the future.
For the Turbulent Landings community tour; I chose the work "The Cyphers 1-18" by Hajra Waheed to talk about because this artwork takes me back to my childhood memories; not so bright memories that taught me to be mature and responsible at a young age. The debris from "Cyphers 1-18" reminds me of the many debris I've touched from car explosions back home in Iraq. Back home debris were important to keep afterwards, because it can be used as proof to show the government that something terrible had happened in our neighbourhood and that people got hurt. In Wars, many bodies had vanished and the debris might be the last thing to touch their bodies. Some families like to keep that debris as a reminder.
"Conjured Parts" by Julie Mehretu was another work that spoke to me the moment I saw it. The smokey feeling and the rhythmic lines drew me in. The first word that came to my mind when looking at Conjured Parts was "destruction". Some of my friends who were not from Iraq had a difficult time trying to discover what the work is about. But for myself, I knew exactly what it was the moment I saw it. Some memories will be wiped away by air, but they will always be buried in our hearts.
To learn more about Newcomers are Lit and the Canadian Council for Refugees Youth Network visit: