Embracing Shades of Action

"Empowering Indigenous Girls and Girls of Colour to take action within their communities"

Youth Panelists


Billie Whitegibson

Q: What is a memory you can share about yourself between the ages of 13-17?

 A: At age 17 I was ranked 2nd in Canada for my age group in the 100 meters, and that year represented Canada on the 4X100 meters relay team in Windsor, ON for the Pan American Games.

 Q: What does the term cultural identity mean to you?

 A: Cultural identity means how you present, embody and express yourself every-single second of the day. Cultural identity is unique in that it is an internal and external expression.

Q: What are you most looking forward to on the day of the event?

A: I look forward to connecting and learning from everyone at the conference about their personal projects and life aspirations.


Billie Whitegibson

My name is Billie Deama Whitegibson. I am from Vancouver. I love making connections with people, learning about individual projects and other’s life aspirations. I appreciate and encourage others motivations in life. I believe that everyone has a purpose in life and with the right tools, support and resources we can help each other achieve those goals. Racially my background is a mixture of bloodlines. On my father ‘s side I am Barbadian and on my mother’s side I am Scottish. My aspirations are to create a space for people of all generations to find solidarity in being mixed! I believe this goal can only be achieve collectively and with a common vision.

Letitia Annamalai

Q: What is a memory you can share about yourself between the ages of 13-17?

A: When I was 16 my family was given the opportunity to immigrate from South Africa to Canada, i.e. settlement on Turtle Island. I moved here with my mother, my father and my younger brother. I remember missing my home, my extended family and my friends so much so that I would dream about them each night (and still do).
Q: What does the term cultural identity mean to you?

A: Cultural identity has been something I have been questioning from a very young age. I don’t think I identify anymore with any one particular race or culture; I’m more of a blend of these heritages. My cultural identity is informed by my past, but also by my present- my evolving beliefs, the work that I do, and by people and movements I admire.

Q: Tell the youth participants some of the ways you are or have been involved in taking action within the community?

A: While studying for my Bachelor’s in Political Science and Women’s Studies I have been involved in advocacy work at the University of Victoria volunteering as a collective member and Board representative for the Students of Colour Collective, as well as, an editor for the Women’s Centre’s anti-racist feminist publication, Thirdspace. I have been a Board of Director “Sistah’s Representative” and Gurlz Club Facilitator for antidote for four years. I have participated as a panelist for the past 3 years at UVic’s annual Diversity Conference speaking about solidarity building, navigating social justice organizations, and working with visible minority youth. I have had valuable training and experience working in outreach and education at the Anti-Violence Project which is UVic’s Sexual Assault Centre. I am currently a Youth Services Facilitator for the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, coordinating youth empowerment programming for Immigrant and Refugee girls, teenagers and young adults. I strive to integrate creativity, the arts, dance and food in to my work, and play as much as I can.

Q: What are you most looking forward  to on the day of the event?

A: I am looking forward to connecting with the incredible young women who are, and will be our leaders one day. I want to ask them about their hopes and dreams, and ask for their advice and perspectives on the world. I am excited about the creative prospects that will arise out of this gathering.

If you would like to contact Letitia, or get involved with any of her programs you can do so at: lannamalai@icavictoria.org

Lilia Zaharieva

Q: Tell the Youth participants a little bit about yourself?

A: Lilia Zaharieva was born in Sofia, Bulgaria but has spent the majority of her twenty-five years in Victoria BC. . Led by a desire to support at-risk youth through a positive, preventative lens, Lilia changed the course of her studies from the humanities to the humanitarian. She is commencing her education at the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria.  Lilia herself shares the experience of growing up in government care as well as having a parent with a mental illness, giving her a passion to work with dynamic youth. She loves the challenge of changing minds and fighting stigma through public speaking. Lilia has been honored with a 2011 Youth Now United Way award in the area of volunteer leadership and the Representative’s Award of Excellence for Youth Leadership 2011. Lilia’s greatest achievement has been to reframe her own adversities and use them to understand and support others.

Q: Tell the youth participants about what taking action within the community has meant to you?

A: My work in the community has enriched my life in countless ways. It’s allowed me to find purpose in the circumstances of my life that would otherwise have dragged me down. It has challenged me and changed me. It has connected me with colleagues, friends and mentors who inspire me. It’s Given me a knowledge of myself and the world around me, and one is not truly possible without the other.

Teresa Sims

Q: What is a memory you can share about yourself between the ages of 13-17?

A: My teens were a very awkward time in my life. I was trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. Being of mixed races, I found it challenging to 100% identify with one group of friends or social circle. I felt (as I still feel today) like a chameleon, in that I adjusted my personality and actions based on the group of people I was with whether it be at work, school or social events.

 Q: What does the term cultural identity mean to you?

 A: Exploring cultural identities is a very interesting topic! In many countries, I think that cultural identities are connected to the general ethnicity and dialect of the population. However, because Canada is quite ethnically and linguistically diverse, there are many cultural identities by which Canadians can identify with. While in the past, these cultural identities have been fairly independent of each other, I think that they are moving closer together and becoming more intertwined. Over the past few generations, there has been an increase in mixed race children, bi- or tri-lingual citizens, and a greater level of public sensitivity and awareness towards various cultural customs and traditions. That being said, I would be puerile to think that we as Canadians do not still face challenges in this regard.
Q: Tell the youth participants some of the ways you are or have been involved in taking action within the community?
A: I have always had a passion for helping young women with professional development. Since graduating from UVic, I have tried to make a conscious effort to focus on providing opportunities and education for young women including facilitating workshops, hosting PRO-D events, organizing networking opportunities or spear heading events for women-centric charities. I have also been actively involved in the women’s commission for a federal political party because I think that there needs to be more young women (especially minorities or mixed-race women) involved in the political realm!

Q: What are you most looking forward to on the day of the event?

A: I cannot wait to meet all of the lovely young women at this event and hear their stories. I think this event will not only be a learning experience for the attendees, but for the panelists as well!

To learn more about Teresa check out: www.teresasims.ca

Siku Allooloo

Q: What is a memory you can share about yourself between the ages of 13-17?

A: My life went through many drastic changes during those years. My mom passed away just after I turned 14. She was an only parent and my closest friend, so I had to start learning from a very young age how to take care of myself, especially how to take care of my spirit and my heart. Being in touch with myself this way has continued to be my greatest source of strength and guidance.

Q: What does the term cultural identity mean to you?

A: Cultural identity is an essential part of who you are. For most people it can be very complex and it’s the same for me. I am half Inuk and half Haitian (Taino/African/Spanish/French) and I was raised within an extended Dene family. I was taught from a very young age to know who I am and to have a deep love for all the people that I come from. I was raised with stories about my ancestors from hundreds of years ago, and those stories continue to strengthen and shape me to this day. So, I have very strong roots in many homelands and I feel it’s incredibly important to have those connections. They are part of who I am, they make up my cultural identity, and so I do my best to honour them.

Q: Tell the youth participants some of the ways you are or have been involved in taking action within the community?

A: I am an Inuk/Haitian woman from Denendeh (Northwest Territories). My main involvement within my communities has been through education – by applying my studies to learn more about the people and the places that I come from and also here on Coast and Straits Salish territories. Knowledge is a true source of power and it can be used to help empower others. I have just finished my B.A. degree in Anthropology and Indigenous Studies. While at UVic, I was involved with the Native Students’ Union and was also a member of the Students of Colour Collective. Most recently I participated in a workstudy program and offered academic/writing help to other Indigenous students.

Q: What are you most looking forward to on the day of the event?

A: Meeting all of the different young women – participants, panelists, facilitators – and encouraging one another to embrace the diversity of who we are!


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