I had the pleasure of chatting with activist, Pamphinette (Pam) Buisa regarding her work. As she is so young, I was interested in learning her story and why she chooses to be a voice for BIPOC.
Pam is from the unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin speaking peoples, also known as Ottawa, ON. She grew up in Gatineau, QC, and now resides in the unceded territories of the Lekwungen and WSANEC speaking peoples, also known as Victoria, BC. Her parents immigrated to Canada from the Democratic Republic of Congo and she is also a Rugby player, representing Team Canada.
As our chat was scheduled a day after Breonna Taylor’s murder decision, I commenced my questions wanting to know her thoughts on that decision.
Yesterday, we found out that no one was and most likely will be held accountable for Breonna Taylor’s murder. As an activist for black lives and POC, what do you think?
Pam: (shakes head) The decision was history repeating itself. So disappointing; I feel drained.
What led you to activism?
Pam: I could not find peace with the nonsense; I got tired of being in two frames of mind – daily. I too have experienced racism more times than I can count. I grew up with African parents; microaggressions towards me was the norm (my hair, my skin, the fact that I did not fit into the box they placed me in, etc). I felt like after seeing murders of black people go viral, constantly being reminded that we are in a pandemic, and feeling so isolated, I felt so triggered. I had to protect my mind by being off social media. After a few weeks, the only thing that helped me heal was to actively call-out injustices that continue to plague black and brown lives.
Why do you think anti-black and anti-POC racism still exists in Canada in 2020?
Pam: Some folks fear losing their privileges and chooses not to even acknowledge they have privileges. They fear being called racists; but will choose not to unlearn the racist behaviors they were taught by their parents, society, television, etc. I think that we live in an age where we are so polarized. We see things in binaries and fail to recognize the complexities of human beings. By caging people in these stereotypes, those who seek and perpetuate hate continue to dismiss the humanity of people of color.
What do you hope the best outcome would be for our future?
Pam: We are not content with where we’re at presently. We want to be free to live in peace. I encourage everyone to invest their time in educating themselves, their families, and those who may not believe in the same things we do. This revolution cannot just be limited to those who already follow; it must transcend into the ears and hearts of those who don't understand. The movement is ongoing, it's just a matter of people catching the wave. The best outcome would be that the world recognizes and follow Indigenous governance, which would in turn propel black liberation in this country. For that to happen, we must keep challenging the system that upholds white supremacy; resisting against hatred and engaging in radical love with one another.
I thanked Pam for her time and as I replayed our chat in my mind, I remembered an African Proverb one of my teachers always said; “unity is strength, division is weakness”.
Interview conducted by Ana Warner