Art that speaks volumes

May 11, 2011 | Feature | Number 10

The success of In the Spirit of Humanity, a series of art workshops encouraging acceptance of others across cultures and faith groups, prompted Mennonite Church Canada’s Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery curator Ray Dirks and fellow artists Manju Lodha and Isam Aboud to share the experience.

They have completed a DVD about the project and are currently developing a book of the art created by participants, who come from schools across Manitoba and English-as-an-Additional-Language (EAL) classes. Comments from the artists about their work will also be included.

Pat Harrison has followed In the Spirit of Humanity closely. As the Social Studies Consultant for in the Winnipeg School Division where many of the workshops have taken place, her job is to find ways of inspiring empathy and understanding in students, and to encourage active involvement in human rights issues. Harrison admits that she cried when she first saw the DVD summarizing the project.

“It’s phenomenal,” she reflects in a telephone interview. “There are no other words I have for it. I know exactly what a lot of those kids are going through…I would love to see this in every classroom in this province. I’d like to see it happen across Canada and wherever in the world it needs to be seen.”

The DVD features an original song with lyrics by Lodha and music by Dirks’ daughter, Alexa Dirks of the Juno Award-winning group, Chic Gamine. The book and DVD will be distributed to all schools and EAL classrooms throughout Manitoba. A few extra volumes will be printed for possible sale. Funding for printing and production was provided by The Winnipeg Foundation, Welcoming Communities Manitoba/Manitoba Heritage, Culture and Tourism, and the Blennerhassett Family Foundation, among others. It is endorsed by the Manitoba Association for Multicultural Education.

In the Spirit of Humanity
by Manju Lodha with Alexa Dirks

Call for volunteers

From all over the world we come to Canada
We come together
Making it our home
On this beautiful land we come all together
Of many cultures, colours and faiths all our own

In the spirit of humanity
It isn’t all about you
It isn’t all about me

Finding a value in everyone
There are many ways to show where we come from
We communicate it over a thousand tongues
And with art we can speak them together all at once

In the spirit of humanity
It isn’t all about you
It isn’t all about me

Respecting others and ourselves
We are a land of freedom
Coming together from beyond
the boundaries of where we come from
Learning from each other about beliefs and culture and land of origin

Living peacefully together here in Canada
Along with our First Nations making it also our land
and their land and my land and your land and their land
and our land and my land and your land our land.

In the spirit of humanity
It isn’t all about you
It is not all about me

Oh in the spirit of humanity
It isn’t all about you
It isn’t all about me

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