The Face Behind the Page
Oh, hi! That’s me as a cartoon. Abby Cooper (she/her). Why was H.O.P.E. created?
I was born in Sri Lanka and then came to Canada when I was 1.5 years old.
I grew up in Parkdale, Toronto, then Scarborough where it was extremely diverse, then in Oakville during the middle of high school where I was clearly the minority.
In 2020, my husband Steve and I moved to Elmira to raise our son in a safe, friendly and welcoming community. I have always felt the need (not just because of the pandemic where we all had time to reflect on life) to bring the community together in some way, but I just didn’t know how.
Part of my journey of getting here involved a lot of self-reflecting, reading many self-help books and learning how to clear my mind (still a work in progress). By learning how to practice mindfulness, I became calmer, I created a peace within me that allowed me to remove all the expectations, the worries and thoughts that kept me from believing in myself. Self-love is a lot of work but we all need to do it!
Our past and present experiences with racial or gender discrimination, trauma and grief can take a toll on us and affect how we react to social situations. I believe that mindfulness combined with DEI education can create a more inclusive community.
Throughout my working career, I have introduced various cultural elements in the events I organized and now I get why. I love bringing people together and I love celebrating different races and cultures. By exposing the community to diverse speakers and the knowledge they bring to us, and creating events and programs that are fun and educational, we can all learn to become more inclusive and stronger together.
Racial and gender discrimination still exists. My father struggled to transfer his education and work experience as a lawyer, which is also still a challenge many immigrants face. Kids are growing up in a world where they must deal with microaggression and many other forms of racial and gender discrimination today.
So, what is HOPE working towards?
- Educate, promote and engage in intercultural communication through positive and enlightening discussions on multiculturalism, racial and gender discrimination, and understanding the differences in how people from a variety of cultures act, communicate, and perceive the world around them.
- Support community members on how to confront and overcome racism and racial and gender discrimination, and to promote intercultural understanding by empathizing, appreciating, being self-aware and open to various forms of cultures, genders and races.
- Strengthen evidence-based research through focus groups to build an understanding of the disparities and challenges faced by different racialized communities.
- Build community capacity by creating solutions that address community issues drawn from focus groups, evaluation forms and discussions to help strengthen the ability of individuals, organizations and sectors.