Intersections and Alliances:

The Many Faces of Dignity

Isaac Romano & Cheryle Henry/Waska Pimina Mikisew Esquao

     In this interactive workshop of shared stories of practice and a circle process, Isaac Romano will begin by presenting his experience with two leading liberation struggles that took place in the late 1970s in the U.S.A   Isaac took a prominent role as an ally to Filipino and Chinese elders facing eviction in the struggle to save the International Hotel in San Francisco in 1977.  This movement provided an opportunity for young activists to learn to be effective allies to elders.  Isaac will then share the story of how this activist community was able to lead the struggle for housing rights in San Francisco.  He will also share an account of his participation in the historic American disability rights movement, in support of the Berkeley Centre for Independent Living.  He will discuss what he learned about successful, transformational, civil disobedience for equal access and human rights legislation in the U.S.

     Cheryle Henry will share some of what she has learned over 30 years about being an ally to people living with learning differences related to brain injuries, learning "disabilities", mental health "challenges", and problems about problems.  Cheryle was a facilitator for the "Islands of Safety" project, assisting Indigenous families to create harmonious relationships in the face of various life challenges.  She will draw from personal and professional experiences to share key learnings about being an ally, advocate and support to the people we serve and live with in community.  "A lot of the people I have worked with were labelled as noncompliant, apathetic, lazy, stupid, aggressive, and hopeless... I know them as freedom fighters who against so many odds show up fully outfitted in their dignity on a daily basis." This workshop will highlight what can change in the wake of positive social responses and collaborative resistance.

     Cheryle will also facilitate a Council process that is a variation of a talking circle. Council develops an inter/intra cultural understanding and experience of inclusion. It is a practice that builds community, and is a method to support group processes, crises and conflicts. Our aim is to activate our own and other's awareness of how we give voice to another by our deep listening and how this changes lives.