Land Talks is a full day, interactive workshop centering the art of storytelling and witnessing diasporic peoples’ experiences of migration, place-making, and community building. The word diaspora describes the movement or settlement of peoples away from their ancestral homelands. We, the YMCA, and our partner community organizations believe that youth from diasporic communities, who are now settlers in Mi’kma’ki, can use their embodied knowledge of colonization to be effective allies in supporting Indigenous sovereignty.

In December 2021, the first Land Talks workshop took place at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This event was created for all newcomer immigrant and BIPOC youth aged 16 to-29, with an intentional focus on those who identify as Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual/Bigender, Transsexual/Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual (S2LGBTQIA+).

The YMCA Newcomer 2SLGBTQIA+ Youth Program and Youth Project created this workshop because lived experiences affirmed by a 2020 study establish that LGBTQIA+ newcomers and immigrants experience identity-siloing, which means that an immigrant or newcomer has less freedom to express all aspects of themselves in day-to-day life. Land Talks workshop prioritizes needs of LGBTQIA+ newcomers and immigrants to express their multiple identities that have experienced oppressions.

“I knew the event would be powerful, but I didn’t know just how powerful it would be!” -Ahrthyh Arumugam, Coordinator, Newcomer 2SLGBTQIA+ Youth Program, YMCA Center for Immigrant Programs

The Land Talks workshop in December 2021 welcomed diverse members of the communities to learn about past migration patterns, situate themselves in Canada’s history, and shared tools to help the attendees present narratives of their own journeys and experiences. Led by those with lived experiences, facilitators aimed to create empowering and joyful space for the attendees to share their intergenerational, somatic, and intellectual wisdoms through reflective and creative processes.

“We want to explore what migration patterns, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE), and being non-Indigenous to a land mean.” -Ahrthyh Arumugam, Coordinator, Newcomer 2SLGBTQIA+ Youth Program, YMCA Center for Immigrant Programs

Events such as these are examples of programs that are inspired and created by the desire to meet needs of newcomer and immigrant communities. The power of belonging is experienced by newcomer and migrant communities when each member in the society reflects on their differences and embraces one another with the intent to include and make an impact.

In 2022, the Land Talks series plans to host another workshop focused on earning local issues and its relations with migration. To learn more about these upcoming workshops follow @ymcahd and @ymca_yis