The Canada Diaries: Put Drake on the Canadian Currency


The Canada Diaries:

Day 0 | July 23rd | Put Drake on The Canadian Currency

Melodie Holliday and I (Charisse Chikwiri) of Shades of Noir, are Canada bound for Common Ground’s annual ‘Diversity in Organizations, Communities & Nations’ conference. This year’s special focus is “Urban Diversity and Economic Growth” and will run from July 26th to 28th.

I’ve been planning for this conference ever since my proposal was accepted in early June, I then became a member of Common Ground’s Research Network. The entire process of writing and submitting a proposal for an academic conference was very new to me, although I knew exactly what I wanted to say.

I wanted to tell my generation’s story with the objective of transforming the future of education. I wanted to take the conversations that myself and my peers have on a daily basis and push those voices forward in an academic setting.

I learned how to structure my proposal and to use this new academic format, by reading the works of others. I wrote and rewrote my proposal several times until I got it right. The Shades of Noir team were wonderful in supporting me, giving feedback and advising me on how to refine my work.

My acceptance email struck me with sheer joy – I called my parents and their pride made feel so elated. I then spoke to Aisha Richards, who gratefully saw something in me before I even knew what the possibilities were, she was as encouraging as ever. For a student in her second year, this opportunity is a big deal. One to make the absolute most of, to say I’m grateful would be an understatement.



I have been a human ball of progressive butterflies in the lead up to our 1 pm flight tomorrow. From pitching my proposal for the Conference and preparing my presentation, to processing my Canadian visa. It has been a jam packed month and the day to fly out is finally here!

Funnily enough, the nerves have nothing to do with the actual traveling abroad. It is more… have I forgotten anything? Is my presentation fully prepped? Can I add anything else? What do I want the audience to take away? Who am I representing? How can I can I make the most of this time?

I’m also very anxious as this is my first time traveling with a colleague or traveling a distance further than Reading to London for work. Traveling abroad as an immigrant requires a certain amount of thick skin; this time I have a job to do as well, expectations that need to be met. I’m wondering how I (or rather, we) will navigate these next five days and if will be able to comfortably communicate my fears and concerns.

I am aware from many previous life experiences, that I have a tendency to be extremely understanding of others (in friendships, and in teamwork) that I end up over burdening myself or taking responsibility for others in silence. In a completely different country, this is not something that I can afford to do. I know that I need to learn to communicate explicitly when I’m not happy, or when I feel strained and not wait until it becomes too much. This is something I have been working on, and know that I will need to apply during this conference, in order to make the most of this short time period. I have only five days in this country, an 8-hour flight away from home and a trip I’m not going to be able to make with ease anytime again soon.



Slightly off topic: Having changed my money to Canadian Dollars, I was so annoyed to see Queen Elizabeth and the Big Ben on the Canadian Dollars on the $20 note!

I was annoyed because the U.K. has a long beak, that seems to find it’s entitled-colonising-self everywhere! Anyway, I proceeded to read that Queen Elizabeth, aka “The Queen of Canada” is a constitutional monarch. I’m pretty convinced that Drake and other members of OVO are more suitable fits for the present day. I digress.

My laptop, camera and camcorder are packed for all my documentary needs! I have an idea of what Canada will be like; how the culture will be diverse and the black Canadian youth will remind me so much of us black British youth. I have a comprehensive list of all the things I would like to achieve and experience this week. Eeek!

Man’s never been to Canada in the Summertime ay? Truss me daddi!