Imagine you are the only one like you in your community. There is something that makes you special — and obvious. Each time you leave the sanctuary of your home you have to brace yourself for the inevitable stares, maybe some comments and always the question “where are you from?” As if you don’t belong to this place you call home.
Shayna Jones doesn’t have to imagine that experience. It is her lived reality. If you ask someone in her home community of Kaslo if they know her by name, they may say no. If you ask if they know the Black woman who lives in the village, they will say “oh yah, I’ve seen her.”
Many if not all of us who live here do so because we wish to be rural dwellers. We value the natural beauty around us, the bird song, the smells unique to each season when the earth breathes, free of black top and concrete. But in a region that has been predominantly white since settlers first arrived here, it takes courage to live rurally as a Black, Indigenous, or person of colour.
This Shayna knows firsthand. Founder of the Black and Rural Project, she is connecting with other Black rural dwellers across Canada. She is forging relationships, drawing out stories, and celebrating the lives of Black people who, like Shayna, choose to put down roots where the stars glow at night.
Food is deeply connected to place, to health, to community, and to culture. The Central Kootenay Food Policy council is dedicated to supporting vibrant, healthy, and just food systems in this place we call home. On our journey to better understand and to take action against systemic racism, we are seeking to bring in new voices and perspectives. To find different ways of doing things that are not so bound to white, bureaucratic conventions.
We are excited to feature Shayna and her storytelling at our upcoming AGM. And we are following her lead by integrating a more narrative style to the business of our annual meeting.
Stories are how we create bonds with each other and with a place. They are how we learn to understand the past, navigate the present, and prepare for the future. Join us on May 13th to hear stories by Shayna and stories of our Council over the past year.