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Meet Canoo member Joy Abasta

Canoo member Joy Abasta became a Canadian citizen in February 2020. She says she chose Canada because of the country’s diversity, move towards inclusion, and the high respect for others’ rights and freedoms.

As a new citizen, Joy is actively and continuously learning about the Indigenous Peoples in Canada, and she knows it is both a privilege and a responsibility to be learning and living in the unceded Coast Salish Territories. She also believes that while immigrants and new citizens have much to contribute to Canadian society, it is also important to acknowledge that we all have to work together towards decolonization and reconciliation with the Indigenous Peoples to be a truly inclusive and progressive country. As a public health leader, she is an advocate and an ally in achieving culturally competent and gender-sensitive communities in British Columbia, and hopefully, in all of Canada.

Joy’s favourite place in Canada is Whitehorse, Yukon. “A week after my oath of citizenship in February 2020, my partner, Wesley, and I flew to Whitehorse, Yukon,” she explained, “There, we chased the Aurora Borealis, we met a Canadian ranger, and experienced dogsledding and snowmobiling. I learned more about trapping and got to feel and try on clothings made of real arctic fox, mink, and wolf pelts. The most unforgettable of them all was when we visited the Beringia Interpretive Centre where we learned more about Indigenous Peoples, human migration theory through the Bering ice bridge, and admired the remains of woolly mammoth, giant sloths, and saber-toothed cats.”

When travel restrictions due to the pandemic are over, Joy plans to visit other provinces and use her Canoo membership in museums and art galleries. She hopes to see the beauty and hidden gems of Winnipeg, Toronto, and the Maritimes.

Joy believes that cultural places and public art installations play a major role towards awareness and inclusivity: “These cultural places serve as a medium where we learn the country’s history, its traditions, cultures, and even the dark past. Social inclusion will only be achieved if we learn from history and that we truly welcome everyone regardless of their skin colour, race, gender, and social class.”