PEI

Advocacy group to hold drop-in sessions for men of colour to find connection, support

The advocacy group BIPOC USHR will be hosting a series of get-togethers for racialized men to connect and find support.

BIPOC USHR will hold first session Sunday

Hassaan Abbasi of the Canadian Mental Health Association will be the host for the sessions. (CBC/Thinh Nguyen)

The advocacy group BIPOC USHR will be hosting a series of get-togethers for racialized men to connect and find support.

The sessions aim to encourage the well-being of men of colour on the Island. They will be held in-person in Charlottetown as well as online.

BIPOC USHR said the initiative was based on the success of an online men's group that the organization created earlier this year.

Hassaan Abbasi, who works with the Canadian Mental Health Association, facilitated the group and will also be hosting the new sessions.

"We just had an open space for a dialogue about absolutely anything that they wanted to talk about," Abbasi said. "The intention [was for them] to just kind of open up about … what they're going through, just different things going on in their life."

He said BIPOC men don't always open up about their feelings. "And with this group, I found that … it felt kind of familiar, kind of homey. It was really nice to have that kind of conversation with these people."

Starting the conversation

The group will be getting some provincial funding available to community-led projects addressing racism in P.E.I.

Abbasi, who grew up in Canada to South Asian parents, said a lot of first and second-generation immigrants feel they should show little emotion to not appear weak to non-racialized Canadians.

"You have to have an appearance of sustainability and of strength for your children, and that gets kind of brought down to [future generations] as well," he said.

"Any conversations about mental health, opening up emotions, whatever it is, is looked at as a weakness. And I think that stands for toxic masculinity."

He said he hopes the group becomes a place where men of colour can realize what they have in common and eventually find an outlet where they can express what they're going through.

"We have this kind of cultural conflict a lot of times and, for me speaking from my own experience, it's hard to open up about these things," he said. 

"A lot of times [mental health issues] get swept under the rug … and the consequences kind of fester later in the years."

The first drop-in session will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at Downtown Dance Studio in Charlottetown.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Arturo Chang

Reporter

Arturo Chang is a digital reporter with CBC P.E.I. He previously worked for BNN Bloomberg. You can reach him at arturo.chang@cbc.ca.

With files from Thinh Nguyen

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