Queen’s Collage Collectives to host online workshops with anti-racism theme

New series will raise awareness of minority issues and provide safe space for students

The Anti-Racist Collage Series will take place throughout August.
Credit: 
Supplied by Pravieena Gnanakumar

As discussions on racism and police brutality continue on campus, Queen’s Collage Collectives (QCC) is launching a virtual workshop series in August over Zoom to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

QCC designed the series in response to issues faced by minority groups on campus. Each session will prioritize a different topic relevant to BLM, ranging from themes of privilege and accountability to defunding the police. Students will have the opportunity to collage with like-minded peers over Zoom, an online video chat platform, and discuss their experiences of marginalization while creating a collage that speaks to Black issues.

The club is dedicated to providing spaces for students to heal, express themselves, and strengthen their own mental health through art. It’s also a centre for helping the Queen’s community to learn more about minority issues while using art as a form of expression and resistance.

The Journal spoke to QCC’s co-chair Alyssa Vernon about the collage club and its upcoming anti-racism series. Vernon said the club’s goal is to “provide accountable spaces to have progressive conversations.”

She added that everything the club will be doing in these sessions is central to anti-Black racism and that it aims to “help students learn how to combat anti-Black racism and have a safe space to show solidarity in our offices.”

The sessions aren’t starting until August. The first session is intended specifically for Black students seeking a Queen’s community wherein they can share their experiences, but subsequent sessions will be open to all students. 

“It’s important to create this space for people at Queen’s because going to a predominantly white school can be difficult,” Vernon said. “There aren’t many spaces where you can find a group of Black students sharing their experience[s].”

This month, many Queen’s students have been vocal about racism on campus. Flags on the Four Directions Indigenous Centre were vandalized, and Instagram account Stolen By Smith began publishing testimonies from BIPOC Commerce students recounting racism experienced within the program.

Read more: ‘Stolen by Smith’ Instagram account details systemic violence at Queen’s business school

Although the first session is only open to Black folks, Vernon said later sessions will focus on educating the wider Queen’s community about issues facing the Black community.

QCC will personally send students their own collaging kits to use while participating over Zoom in the comfort of their homes. The kits will include a page of images relevant to the given session theme such as accountability or privilege.

According to Vernon, the club hopes students from all backgrounds attend the sessions to learn how to be an advocate for the betterment of BIPOC students at Queen’s. The club is providing a space for students to come together during this difficult time and create change both on campus and on canvas.

Vernon also emphasised why collaging is a useful tool for initiating difficult conversations.

“Collaging is an art form that is relaxing and promotes positive mental health because you’re building something,” she said. “You’re using pictures and items that are personal to you, connecting what you’re discussing to reinforce what’s going on. It incites creativity to think of new solutions to existing problems.”

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