Although my head is spinning and my note book is full of information, I’ve begun to make some connections between my Vancouver cultural experiences and the aim of my study visit about creative writing with people with dementia.
Last night I went to the Indian Summer Festival for the event called 5 X 15. Five ‘thinkers’ talking unscripted for fifteen minutes; I’m not sure if it was planned but all five talked in some way about their sense of identity, especially when their ethnicity resulted in discrimination.
Anita Majumdar talked about growing up in Canada with an Indian background, eventually writing her own version of a Bollywood musical. Michael Yahgulanas spoke about tensions in a childhood divided between Haida First Nation reservation and contemporary Canadian society which led to his work as a visual artist and activist for Haida rights. (See pic, which I saw at the Museum of Anthropology.) Reza Aslan explained his theory that tensions and political conflicts may appear to be religious but are really a question of personal identity rather than religious belief. Even Douglas Coupland exhibition about the 21st Century Brain seems relevant.
They all raise questions of identity which reminded me so much of the older people with dementia in my writing workshops where I encourage them to express their ‘sense of self’ which remains firm- even though their abilities and memory are reduced. When I read back their own words, whether in poetic or memoir form, they often say ‘That’s ME’ or ‘THAT is who I am.’