I believe in being kind and respectful to people, in the environment. I believe in human rights pretty much above anything else – in anybody being able to be who they are, and all the different identities they have. I believe in a really inclusive society where everyone works together.
My parents are activists. They didn’t even want to have children for a long time because they wanted to work on changing the world. So I’ve always grown up in a house that’s been curious about people and wanting to make people…to make the world a better place, more meaningful. And through that, through my parents and my best friends…I think they’re the greatest people in the world and a huge influence. Also learning about different jobs and reading the news has been important for me.
I’ve had friends that have been really religious and I’ve always been very curious about that. It’s never been…there’s something that blocks me…it doesn’t work in me…I can’t…and so I guess [long pause]…everyone wants to have their community – a place they belong. I tend to find that quite organically. But it’s been interesting here: I only recently moved to Vancouver and I’ve got no kinds of networks or connections so I’ve had to kind of look at myself, at my ideas, my identity and what I believe, and the one that stuck out the most was feminism. So I went looking for groups like that and I joined a book club.
The story of Ghandi was a very strong influence on me too. The movement and how it developed. Also the school I went to and the people I grew up with. I went to school with people from different parts of the world and that seemed like the way the world was and should be. And why you find out it’s not like that you become really frustrated and angry but also curious because there’s such difference. You begin to think more and more about why people have other views. And again I go back to my parents who sent me there.
When I was like 12 I had a poster on my wall: the UN Declaration of Human Rights. And I was obsessed with reading about World War II and the Holocaust. I guess I was a strange kid. I guess I thought about human rights and mortality a lot when I was young because I had cancer when I was young. So, in my most influential years from, say, 11 to 15, I had quite a different life to my peers. I didn’t want to get into partying and drinking. Instead I was reading books about people dying in gas chambers in Auschwitz. I’ve never thought about this before but I wonder if that was part of why I became interested where people are born and how that influences what happens to them. I really hadn’t thought of that before [laughing].
I have trouble with religion. I’m very curious about it but I have trouble with it. In terms of a philosophy, I once discussed with my friends the pros and cons of labelling yourself. I call myself a feminist because I actually think it’s quite powerful to have a word and a label. That’s the main one but also just general respect and human rights. And action towards climate change. I don’t know if that’s a philosophy but movements of humanity to improve the world.
I’m deeply passionate about people being who they are with dignity and respect. But because of those ideas I mentioned about human rights…I struggle when those ideas are violated in other cultures and religions. I would say “those things need a change” and I’m making a judgement, right? That’s my judgement on this religion or this group of people and their culture. And does that conflict with my idea about respect? It kind of does but I think you should challenge a religion or culture where it violates women’s rights and reproductive sexual health. I just think that religion and culture should never be a taboo. But I have real trouble with living up to that [laughing].
I don’t like conflict so I’m rarely challenged in my beliefs because often people don’t know what they are. It’s funny. People often think I’m Christian. I don’t know why. And they think I’m vegetarian. I’m trying to get better at being okay with different opinions and conversations. Because conversation is everything and if you have people with different ideas, that’s great – that’s what we need in the world. I’m trying.
If people don’t know me, the fact that I can curse very heartily can surprise them [laughing]. Or that I’m married but I don’t wear a ring and haven’t changed my name. People would assume that I might have done those things.
People are also often surprised when they discover I’m not so focused on animal rights. I don’t really have much to say on that [laughing].