Poverty is a global issue, and our judgement and stereotypes build walls that prevent us from moving forward. It’s heartbreaking to know that there are people, human beings just like anyone else, who are caught in pitfalls designed to keep you stuck.
In 2021, Engage Winnipeg found that 1 in 8 people in Winnipeg are living in poverty, that’s 92 thousand individuals whose needs go unmet. In the 2018 Street Census, 65.9% of those individuals identified as Indigenous. The solution to poverty in Canada is one rooted in reconciliation—one of compassion and education. I believe that we as people are always afraid of the things we don’t understand. If we only took a moment—just a breath to reevaluate our own thinking, to educate ourselves—it might open a door for empathy and allow us to move forward on this social justice issue as a community.
Arundhati Roy once said, “There's really no such thing as the 'voiceless'. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” Angles of Reality: Winnipeg Voices of Resilience & Stories of Courage aims to share the stories of some of the deliberately silenced within our society.
The Angles of Reality project began in my grade 9 year at the Maples Met School, a Big Picture Learning school that allows its students to pursue projects and community connections that they are personally passionate about. In collaboration with Oak Table Inc.—a nonprofit organization that supports those in need—I was able to meet the individuals whose stories Angles of Reality highlights.
Through connections with other community members such as Anne Mahon and Syd Korsunsky, and organizations/businesses such as North Forge and Bloom + Brilliance, Angles of Reality was able to flourish into what it is today.
The book officially launched in June of 2021, and since then, over 350 have been sold. All proceeds are donated to Oak Table to further support the community of Winnipeg and so far Angles of Reality has donated about $4,000 to Oak Table and an additional donation of $2,500 was made by Johnston Group in support of this project. When all the current stock of books is sold, the projected total donation through Angles of Reality will be about $10,000.
Since the launch of the book my endeavors have focused on sharing my work through public speaking engagements, posting on social media and looking for sales opportunities and collaborations. Over the last year I have been speaking in classrooms around the city who are reading Angles of Reality, updating the official website, participating in local community markets, and taking part as a panelist member for various events.
One of the biggest recent highlights includes being a speaker at TEDx: Time for Interruption held by the Maples Met school where I was able to poetically share my story of starting the Angles of Reality project. The recording for this event can be found on YouTube and on the official TED website.
On this path, I have been conscious to make space for others’ voices and have truly taken the realization to heart that each person is just trying to make a better life for themself. However, circumstances that we cannot always control can lead us down unexpected roads.
“I haven’t lost hope.” Said one of the participants from my book. “I have found that even in the times of worst suffering, I hope to meet somebody who I least expect to perform an act of kindness… and it moves me to tears—a spontaneous act of kindness from a fellow human being.”
Angles of Reality is my way of trying to make a positive impact. Sometimes we lose our way, but being able to recognize and empathize with that is as good as any first step can get when it comes to striving to become more compassionate and accepting people.
This book is for the community, for the hope that the 14 year old girl who started Angles of Reality in her grade 9 year can make a difference—no matter how small.
In the dedication of my book I wrote:
“To the resilient and the brave,
may you allow strength to guide you to warmer days and brighter horizons.
May your determination and voices bring us
to a world where we
believe in the goodness of people.”
Listening to my participants be brave enough to share their stories inspires me to be courageous. And with this courage that they have beautifully unintentionally given me, I will continue to believe in the goodness of people.
For more information about the Angles of Reality project visit the website link here, or reach out through email@example.com
Justine Ramos (She/Her)
Author of Angles of Reality: Winnipeg Voices of Resilience & Stories of Courage
Grade 12 Student, Maples Met School