I returned to Vancouver and had a couple of action days. First, participated as an ally at an Imperial Metals Protest. This action was led by the Secwepemc Warrior Sisters– four women defending their unceded territory and their source of livelihood, salmon, from the dangers of mining. These amazing women chased down board of trustees with megaphones, all while being surrounded by more more than 15 cops. I ran behind them holding banners, and later chanted their powerful women warrior song. The entire time I was terrified but vibrating in awe of these fearless women.
The following day, I went to a women’s self-defense class taught by the Warrior Sisters. I had taken a self-defense class before but one that had left me feeling more scared than empowered. This class couldn’t have been more different. For starters, the class was taught by other young women self-identified as feminists. Their curriculum was carefully thought out and opened up spaces for the women participating to share experiences of violence in a safe space, and moreover, to understand how self-defense–both physical and emotional techniques–can be learned and implemented in our lives to keep us safe in the future.
We covered a bunch of exercises and at the end of the class, got 45 seconds to use all the techniques we learned and beat the hell out of some red cushions. The best part was that all the other women surrounded you and yelled words of encouragement while trying their best not to fall as they took your kicks and punches. I left with adrenaline rushing through my body and the amazing feeling of companionship I have after spending valuable time with other women.
During this entire week, I stayed with a friend I met while I was camping. His family is Persian, and he was kind enough to not only share with me his room but also his culture, which included delicious Persian cuisine cooked by his mom.
In general, what I enjoyed the most about Coast Salish Territory (Vancouver) was being exposed to other immigrant communities than the ones I’m used to (and belong to) in the U.S. East Asian immigrants make up the majority of the city’s population, followed by South Asian and Persian immigrants.
Sushi is pretty much fast food: cheap and found everywhere. If you need a quick breakfast option, you can pop into a Chinese or Persian bakery and find sweet breads filled with meat. I finally tried butter chicken and understood what all the buzz was about. Rose water ice cream for dessert from the Persian bakery? Oh Yes.