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Toronto Tales

October 2, 2016

 Star pride at the Workroom, Toronto with Karen Valino.


Toronto was buzzing with end of summer holiday energy. We also arrived at the beginning of the Toronto International Film Festival. At first, we didn’t pay much attention to the red carpets and black SUV’s cruising around town, until we happened to walk past Sigourney Weaver on King St West in downtown Toronto. That was pretty exciting.


My first workshop with Raquel Figueroa and Angelica Reyes Fraga at the Regent Community Health Centre was a lovely way to enter Toronto city life. They provided more ribbon and were weaving stars before I got there! It was lovely to see children teaching adults and hearing about exciting opportunities to take the stars into schools and to keep it running as an activity at the health centre. I got to meet Luce, Raquel’s daughter, who is a Super Star weaver and determined to get more of her school friends involved. I learnt that Luce means ‘light,’ which makes so much sense the more I got to her.


 At the Regent Community Health Centre with Raquel and Angelica.


The next 2 workshops were run with Karen Valino at the Workroom studio, just off Queens Street. We had so much beautiful food – fruit, vegies, donuts, crisps, Spanish tarts, popcorn and we got to weave stars. The first workshop was full of adults and home schooling families. I was impressed by the kids ability to pick up the star weave really quickly and it was enlightening exchanging stories on how home schooling is benefiting our kids. It meant a lot to me, especially since we’ve been home schooling Tavina for the last 18 months. Her travel with me to the UK and now Canada/US is something she will treasure as a learning experience like no onther. It is a gift to spend time with your child like this, especially as she goes through her teenage years.


 Beautiful people, delicious food and some serious star weaving. We woved 190 stars in 2 days at the Workroom!


I was thrilled to learn that someone who attended the Workroom workshop got their organisation to register as a Star Weave Community, which is fantastic! The Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre did the same as well! Such a great achievement after big travel like this.


Our last stop was a tour and meeting of Sketch, a youth arts organisation again in the cultural precinct of Queens Street. We had arrived at the end of their summer arts program so the best they could do was make time to meet with us and hear about what they do and if the OMS could be part of their program. Rose was so positive and showed us around the space, which is housed in a larger building where other creative organisations run workshops and also a café. The building used to be a school for families who served in the war and has been renovated to host dance, screen printing and music workshops for local communities. These meetings are important, even if we don’t get to weave a stars. It is a chance to meet people in their space and they are always so excited to meet people who have travelled far to visit them. Everywhere we have travelled, people have embraced us and always express interest and delight in our Australian accents, which we’ve been told is softer. Perhaps the softness is because of our Pacific Island and Indigenous Australian heritage. What I learnt during these trips, is that being proud of your own cultural heritage and location in the world, helps you to appreciate those that you visit and learn from. I think it makes you so much more open to learning about others and people are willing to share with you when they feel that you are strong in your own identity. Despite the racism that some people associate with Australia and some of its dealings with Indigenous Australians, refugees and asylum seekers, most people sensed that we loved being Australian and that we carry hope and love for our region and our communities. There are many stories of people doing good and not so good in countries all over the world. Now, we have the stars to help us connect and remember that we need to work together in lots of different ways to achieve peace and safety for everyone.



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