Robbie Ahmed is a trans multi-disciplinary artist, activist, and certified life-coach whose work focuses on the intersectional experiences and resilience of immigrant and diasporic queer and trans communities.
Growing up in four countries, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and now Canada, he writes and speaks about his journey in discovering what home, happiness, and healing means in the context of diasporic identity.
His work includes running support programs and campaigns for racialized youth at Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention and providing academic support for marginalized students hoping to go back to college.
He currently sits on board of directors for an ethnocultural mental health organization in Toronto, advocating for culturally appropriate LGBTQ mental health services. This June, he will be featured at the Gladstone Hotel for 10x10 photo project depicting 100 LGBTQ Canadians in the arts.
Workshop: Creating Culturally-Inclusive Services for Queer and Trans Communities
According to Public Health Agency of Canada (2014), “46.9% of gay, bisexual, men in Toronto identify as visible ethnocultural minorities” and yet many still face many barriers accessing mainstream LGBTQ services, hence driving the need for culturally specific services to exist.
Through the work at ethno-specific agencies, we are constantly looking into ways to bridge this gap and provide equitable services at all services. This workshop investigates challenges LGBTQ cultural minorities face in accessing services, such as location, cultural issues, values, and language, as well as tips and strategies to overcome them.
Participants will learn how to ask questions that challenge assumptions, create culturally appropriate resources and spaces, and use accessible language to make service and spaces more accessible and welcoming.
Workshop: Community, Relationships, & Resilience: Rebuilding Support in Immigrant Queer and Trans* Communities
The workshop covers community and family building strategies for queer and trans* folk who are either newcomers or have been struggling with the loss of cultural, religious, and family support networks. It emphasizes the importance of having a strong community and relationships for resiliency and provides tips resources on finding/maintaining communities to rebuild support networks. The workshop draws upon experiences of working with South Asian queer youth through ASAAP (Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention), as well as from works of Michael Ungar, a resilience researcher at Dalhousie University, while placing them into a queer context to share valuable strategies that help in survival and resilience of queer folk who find themselves on their own.
Participants learn about the factors affecting resiliency, unique challenges of immigrant trans and queer youth, as well strategies and resources to meet those factors. The topics covered are chosen family forming, religious alternatives, and cultural reconciliation.
Workshop: Reaching QTPOC (queer trans people of colour) Communities: Resource and Campaign Development
QTPOC specific resources are hard to find and many existing mainstream resources, although containing useful resources, often miss QTPOC communities by lack of representation or culturally specific content. The workshop will be of help to anyone who is interested in developing campaigns for QTPOC communities or would like to ensure their future or existing campaigns or resources are more inclusive and speak to a wider range of audiences.
The workshop draws from experiences in recently working with
collaboration with 2 queer South Asian artists on an extensive Mental Health resource for Queer South Asian youth, as well as on the advisory committee the development of 4thinstallment ofTorontoForAll Campaign for racialized trans youth.
The workshop covers some of the strategies and case studies in developing resources and campaigns for QTPOC communities: such as finding appropriate cultural elements, ensuring diverse representations (from photograph/artists selection process), reviewing process through advisory teams and A/B testing, ensuring by QTPOC for QTPOC work, and accessibility (language and medium).
Workshop: So you want to be a queer immigrant writer?
One of the most unique and beautiful aspects of Toronto is its rich and complex stories and histories of its residents. However, capturing those identities and being able to paint vivid worlds that transcend race, culture, and gender can be difficult with constraints of language and story structure. In addition, we often are required to trailblaze through subjects that are rarely been spoken about.
The workshop covers the 5 elements of successful and engaging short stories, using cultural objects and language to capture cultural nuances, as well as strategies on handing and sharing sensitive and vulnerable subjects to make sure our stories tell the truth, as well as do justice to others and our backgrounds.
Participants will be given writing prompts and exercises to practice learned concepts, as well as information on how they can pitch their stories and have their voices be heard and connected to in the mainstream writing world.