Who do we think we are?

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.’

ption id=”attachment_72″ align=”alignnone” width=”224″]Michael Yahgulanaas Michael Yahgulanaas[/caption]

M.Y. 2

M.Y. 2



2 thoughts on “Who do we think we are?

  1. I’m still grappling with identity reflections as a result of discovering that so many young people with some kind of learning difficulty who I’m working with have no language or context to explore their identity in a way that includes the neural differences they live with. I suppose a parallel would be whether people with dementia can own their dementia as part of themselves or whether the ‘real’ person was established before the dementia? It’s really useful to think about it from the creativity perspective which somehow releases the scope of words to explore identity beyond using them to label or be labelled – so thanks for that! Tea’s good too for lubricating thorny issues. I bought a teapot with built in leaf holder in ALDI last week which lasted three days so hope yours makes it home in one piece. Happy posting till then x

  2. I’ve been thinking about how to stretch out of identities that limit us – how to see ourselves differently and act and be different. In particular I think vulnerability can help us to do this. Going out of the comfort zone of habit and into an unfamiliar place can lead to uncertainty – and also to new ground. Not sure how or if this relates very well with what you are saying Romi (and Julia), but there might be a thread somewhere there…

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