To connect with people our communities, we need to focus on gifts. We’re not talking about gifts you purchase for someone on their birthday or anniversary. We’re talking about the innate personal gifts that exist inside each of us – things like:
- Gifts of the Heart – things that you care about or feel passionate about.
- Gifts of the Head – things you know a lot about and like to talk about.
- Gifts of the Hands – things you like to do, build or create.
- Gifts of History & Identity – things like family history, traditions and culture.
Let us introduce you to Kevin Takahide Lee – he’s a proud Japanese-Canadian, singer, performer, friend, community builder – the list goes on and on. He was recently included in a visual exhibit by the Canadian Museum of Human Rights as part of their Our Canada, My Story series.
Kevin is also a PLAN Mentor, which means he spends time with families and people with disabilities to learn about their gifts, hopes and dreams for the future. Then he collaborates to build personal support networks and mobilize them to help people live good lives as part of their community.
Outside of his work at PLAN, Kevin is also an advocate for cultural healing, particularly on the issue of institutional oppression and systemic racism. He’s the creator of a Choir for Newcomers, which invites new arrivals to Canada to feel welcome and free to express their voice through song. We all know song is an important tool to facilitate connection, and over time, Kevin’s choir has grown from one person to nearly 40.
When Japanese Canadians were relocated and interned in camps during the Second World War, they were deprived of their freedom and dignity. Their rights were violated in profound ways. Japanese Canadians and their allies have taken steps to obtain redress for these wrongs. Still, historical injustices continue to affect issues of inclusion and equality.
By sharing his gifts of history and identity, it’s Kevin’s hope that we can learn cross-culturally, and and become a more connected, caring community. We all have so much to give, and it’s people like Kevin who provide an important voice of understanding and healing.