Thunder Bay·Audio

Thunder Bay feminist group says it will fight racism with poetry

The Poetry Against Racism event will see local poets stage pop-up performances at significant locations around the city.

Poetry Against Racism will see local poets stage pop-up performances at significant locations around the city

Taina Maki-Chahal is a co-organizer of Poetry Against Racism. She told CBC she hopes the event will be a healing experience for participants and audience members and will leave members of marginalized communities feeling like their voices were heard. (Taina Maki Chahal)

A Thunder Bay, Ont., feminist organization is hoping to use art to create change on Wednesday.

Northern Feminisms is staging Poetry Against Racism, a series of pop-up poetry performances around the city that will take place at locations with significance to marginalized communities, organizer Taina Maki-Chahal told CBC News.

One late addition to the route is the offices of the Chronicle Journal newspaper.

The group decided to stop there after the paper ran a controversial editorial decrying the alleged privileges of Indian status, Maki-Chahal said.

"They want to let all citizens speak," she said.  "Well guess what, some citizens have too much power to speak," she continued, pointing to comments made on social media.

"When ...  Indigenous people do have fear of moving in our streets freely, then that racism, those racists comments, are not just ... symbolic racism," she added.

Two performance circuits

Poetry Against Racism is about empowering members of marginalized communities and listening to their voices, Maki-Chahal said. 

Poets of all backgrounds and levels of experience are invited to take part.

There will be two performance circuits:  one in the north core and one in the south.

The north core route will take poets and audience members to McVicar Creek; the Waverly Resource Library — which Maki-Chahal described as a symbol of enlightenment and support for artists — the St. Paul Street-Red River Road area, the Chronicle Journal and the Spirit Garden at Marina Park.

The south core route will travel from city hall to the court house, Shelter House, the Kam River Heritage Park, McKenzie Street between Dease Street and Cameron Street — the location where Barbara Kentner was struck by a trailer hitch — and the McIntyre River, where the bodies of several Indigenous youth have been discovered. 

Organizers hope the event will be healing for participants and listeners, Maki-Chahal said, adding that she hopes it will also allow poets to feel their voices have been heard.