A Time for Reflection, Celebration, and Family Karma: A Letter from the Editor
Written by Felicia Gopi
Sunday March 5, 2023
I’d like to think of March as a dynamic time of year. It’s a tipping point where as Canadians, we brace ourselves for those last ditch winter storms, but at the same time, we hold onto hope that it’s a time for more sunlight and temperatures above zero. There’s something about the onset of Spring that personally makes me feel lighter and more inspired.
For this issue we really wanted to explore that inspiration that comes at a time of year that is so significant to our community with both Holi and Ramadan being observed this month. However, as I write this letter I also feel incredibly troubled by the ongoing attacks on our religious places of worship here in Canada.
Following a series of attacks on Hindu Mandirs across Australia, the UK and now Canada concern has been growing among the Indian community and Indian diaspora about what this means for our safety. I was saddened to hear about the hateful messages that were spray painted and vandalism that took place at Ram Mandir last month, which is owned, led and operated by Indo-Caribbean members of the community. We, just like everybody else, deserve to feel safe.
Unfortunately, religious-based hate is not something new that we’ve had to face as a community. In fact, our religion ties us to so many more communities across the globe. Muslims from all over the world have had to face rampant Islamophobia, which has only been exacerbated in a post-9/11 world. It’s enough to make you feel exhausted, frustrated and deep sadness. At Story, it’s our duty to tell you that those are all valid feelings, something I’m not sure we hear nearly enough.
With February being Black History month and the Caribbean being such a diverse community I am reminded of how important intersectionality is for all of us. We have a responsibility to one another, to advocate, support, and uplift our communities so that we can see the advancement of all of our needs in what can sometimes feel like a very dark world.
It is through celebration and embracing our heritage that we can restore light into our communities - that’s our tipping point. This edition of Story promises to deliver on just that.
Image courtesy of NBC and Bravo
This is a very special issue of Story for me because I had the opportunity to sit down with Brian Benni of Bravo’s hit series, Family Karma! As a self-proclaimed Bravoholic, I can honestly say this interview really delivers. Brian opened up about his passion for championing representation in television, his parents’ love story, the pressure to get married, where he stands with the rest of his Family Karma co-stars and so much more. You don’t want to miss the full length video of our entire conversation as well as our piece, A Conversation with Brian Benni: Bravo's Rising Star Gets Candid On Representation, Finding Love & Family Karma.
Our editor Rebecca also had the opportunity to sit down with someone special to write Reshmi Chetram on Dance, Family, and Connecting to Culture. Reshmi Chetram, is an Indian classical dance educator and Reflexology practitioner who tells us about how classical dance has taken her on a journey that will forever connect her to our culture and her family. Reshmi was kind enough to share a video with us of her performing a classical Indian dance routine and every second of it is as breathtaking and captivating as she is.
I’m really proud of how our contributors have really opened up to us this month. Like Dev Ramsawakh, who dives deeper into the theme of intersectionality quite candidly in Divide and Conquer: An Ongoing Legacy of Colonialism in the Indo-Caribbean Diaspora. Their lived experiences as a queer and disabled person of colour allow them the unique opportunity to share some eye-opening thoughts on oppression and how we can break the cycle of intergenerational trauma through community. Dev’s writing is groundbreaking and I was honoured to have them collaborate with us.
I was in a particularly reflective space this month which prompted me to write Beauty Trends Can Be Problematic: Here Are 6 Brown Girl Friendly Influencers That Actually Look Like Us. It tackles some of my thoughts on how beauty trends like the clean girl aesthetic and the vanilla girl felt really unattainable and discriminatory in nature. I decided to compile a list of brown girl beauty influencers who tackle all kinds of beauty trends with honesty and a little bit of humour. There is a lot of room for us to advocate for more inclusivity in many industries but I also wanted us to celebrate women who are making a name for themselves while also making the space feel a bit more comfortable for all of us.
And finally we come to Ayesha Khan: a Toronto political staffer and one of our Vice Chairs here at Indo-Caribbean Canadian Association. She sat down with Rebecca, where she opens up to us about complicated family dynamics, religion and her impact at ICCA. Ayesha has a huge career ahead of her and her story is one to watch. Read more of our Spotlight on Ayesha: Family, Career and Her Future in Politics.
What we’ve put together, as a collective and as a team this month is something I am truly in awe of. Thank you to Rebecca and all of our writers and contributors who made this issue so vibrant. I hope that when you read our stories you feel inspired, lighter and more connected to our community.
About the Author
Felicia is the editor in chief of Story, a newsletter by the Indo-Caribbean Canadian Association. She also works in digital marketing with a background in beauty and fashion. She began volunteering with the Indo-Caribbean Association to contribute directly to her community and to learn from other like-minded individuals.
For more information visit feliciagopi.ca