Coming together at the One Love gala

On Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Student Centre’s multipurpose room, Laurier students hosted their third annual One Love event to acknowledge and celebrate their diversity.

The event was hosted by Laurier Brantford’s Amnesty International club and co-hosted by Laurier’s Human Rights and Diversity Students Association (HRHDSA). The event included a special guest from the Laurier Brantford Women’s Centre. One Love is a celebration of diversity that brings a sense of community to the campus.

Amnesty International  is a student-run club that “works alongside Amnesty International to try and inspire change through active involvement,” said Dominique Bendetti and Sinthu Vimaladasan, presidents of Amnesty International Laurier Brantford. Amnesty International hosts many campaigns throughout the year, one example being the My Body My rights campaign, which was co-hosted by the women’s centre and Sexual Assault Centre of Brant.

These events shine a light upon and spread awareness of global issues. A lot of Amnesty’s campaigns focus on petitions and campaigns that are serious in nature. It is the opinion of many that it is very important to acknowledge that we are all human.

Amnesty International club spent months planning and organizing this year’s third annual One Love Gala. With the focus in mind of providing students the opportunity to display their diversity on campus through different forms of artwork, photograph, spoken word, speeches, opinions and mashups.

Feb. 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month, and there is no better time to celebrate unity and diversity. With inspiration being drawn from political figure and activist Bob Marley, one love continues to grow exponentially.

“Bob Marley is more than just a musician. He is a political figure with no restraints, That’s what Amnesty is about: having like-minded human rights activists fight for what is right.”

Headed by Dominique Bendetti and Sinthu Vimaladasan, Amnesty International Laurier Brantford aims to create “a support system, a safe outlet to go to. We just need to support each other and all be here for each other throughout these troubling times!”

Decorated in black and yellow, Amnesty International Brantford brought together students of all backgrounds to celebrate and unite. Through the use of art, photography, music and spoken word, students from all walks of life came together with the hopes of educating, sharing and acknowledging our differences. Some performances included Eddie Lartey, Emma Ruetz, Chandler Berardi and Rawan Shannak.

Eddie Lartey is a spoken word poet, currently working with Hamilton Youth Poets, who performed a series of pieces addressing systemic racism, global injustice and racial inequalities.

The series aims to remind students that “Love is one of the best investments we can make … and love is the only weapon we have against times right now.”

Rawan Shannak, a fourth year psychology and criminology student, delivered a powerful speech on diversity, incorporating Jane Elliot’s lifetime lesson on racial prejudice.

Emma Ruetz, a concurrent education student, and Chandler Berardi, a digital media and journalism student, took the stage to perform a fusion of Sean Paul’s Temperature and Ed Sheeran’s Don’t. Demonstrating that although there are differences in skin colour, sexual orientation and physical appearance, there are things in life that can unify us.

We sat down with one of Amnesty International Laurier Brantford club presidents, Sinthu Vimaladasan. to discuss more about diversity at Laurier Brantford.

“We all have a social responsibility to address or at least understand the issues that other people have to face and deal with. All of our events try to raise global issues outside of the Western perspective, just seeing our diversity as something positive, and not a bad thing. It is okay to acknowledge that we are different, it is completely okay, it’s actually better [than not doing so]. Acknowledging that we are all different comes with certain responsibilities. As university students we need to be educated about this,” said Vimaladasan.

Students can expect to see much more diversity-related events around campus within the next two months. On Feb. 17 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Market Square, Laurier SOUL will be hosting a Black History Month gala. On March 7 at 10 a.m., Laurier Brantford’s human Rights and Human Diversity Student Association will be hosting its annual human rights conference with guest speakers and prizes. Students are encouraged to come out and get involved. Students can get involved by contacting members of HRHDSA, Amnesty Brantford or Laurier SOUL.

“The constant generalizations of people are not acceptable, One Love and Amnesty International Laurier Brantford wants to break down stereotypes, gender norms and all gender assignment society forces upon us. Africa is not a country,” said Vimaladasan, who encourages students to do more with their university education and degrees, to create change, acknowledge differences and support one another.

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