Content warning: suicide, anxiety, depression
Imagine waking up one day and realizing your friend is gone; Their existence a mere student number to the educational institution they bet their being on.
Imagine paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a brand-name piece of paper, only to have the same brand dismiss the importance of you and your well-being.
Imagine experiencing anxiety and depression over your cGPA, only fuelled by crippling imposter syndrome induced by the intentionally over-competitive atmosphere of your university.
Now, what if you couldn’t talk about any of this?
For too many students, this is a reality. The student mental health crisis is an undeniable fact, from which UofT loses too many lives. h2art was born from the grief of loss, and the hope for healing.
As a student student-centred and student-led organization, we say “enough is enough,” and work to fill a gap our university won’t. We acknowledge that traditional “talk therapy” is only one – sometimes inaccessible – way to express.
In the wake of yet another student suicide at the University of Toronto in September 2019, h2art organized in just 4 days to join the student advocates fighting for their rights. We believe that our family of art-lovers and art-makers can support one another in arts-based wellness and community healing.
For those who can’t express through words.
For those who don’t speak English as a first language.
For those uncomfortable with the idea of talking about their feelings.
Art is there for you, and so are we.
The struggle for Indigenous sovereignty in “Canada” is deeply connected to all human rights work. h2art is committed to exploring and reflecting upon these systemic connections.
Our organization operates out of the University of Toronto. This institution sits on stolen land; land that belongs to the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit River. The province of “Ontario” and the state of “Canada” carried out genocide, ethnic cleansing and forced removal as a way of acquiring this land. Despite these (on)going histories of violence, this is still Indigenous land.
Whilst it is important to honour the institutionalization of oppression and imperialism in “Toronto”, we must not construct Indigenous people as perpetual victims or relics of the past. Indigenous people are powerful agents of change and resist on both micro and macro levels. To erase these histories is to sustain the very systems that inflict this violence.
Working from the University of Toronto, h2art is complicit in the (on)going displacement and oppression of Indigenous, Metis, Aboriginal and Inuit folk. We are settlers here. We do not wish to remain ignorant of this fact. Whilst working on this land, we pledge to put in the work necessary in dismantling colonialism. This does not mean simply considering or adding Indigenous perspectives to our work, but centring Indigenous resistance, self-determination, and nationhood in everything we do.
- Continually (re)educating ourselves on First Nations, Indigenous, Metis and/ or Inuit experience(s) and issues;
- Consulting and centring diverse lived experience(s);
- Standing in solidarity with these communities through showcases, and by engaging in artivism.