“Stand up for what is right, even if you stand alone” – Maya Angelou
Rayne Fisher-Quann is an activist, writer, and public speaker. She's an advocate for sex education, climate justice, labour and worker rights, and youth involvement in politics, and has been leading national action on these subjects since the age of 16. She believes that teenage girls will change the world. Here are 5 key takeaways from our conversation with Rayne!
1. Take a Stand
When Rayne observed that dress codes were different for males and females in her high school, she sprung to action. As a 15-year old girl, Rayne wanted to have the freedom to express herself through what she wore; she wanted to wear crop tops. She sprung to action by raising awareness and successfully advocated for school administration to abolish the dress code. This was the start of Rayne’s journey to advocating for sex education curriculum, women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, climate justice and more. So, take a stand, no matter how big or how small because you can be an agent of change!
“How can women even feel comfortable in leadership positions … when our existence in these positions put us at risk [of sexual harassment]” - Rayne Fisher-Quann
2. Recognize your Privilege
Rayne took the time to acknowledge her privilege as a white person and brought attention to issues that plague the diverse communities of Canada, including issues of racism and the treatment of black and indigenous communities. Rayne grew up with parents who took her to protests even before she could walk and having exposure at such a young age to the reality of the world was a privilege within itself.
“True way to reach liberation is to realize that when I go to a black lives matter protest, for example, I am not the white savior” - Rayne Fisher-Quann
3. Be an Accomplice
Rayne pointed out that she likes to use the term “accomplice” in place of “ally”. An ally is someone who primarily engages with activism by standing up with a group while an accomplice actively works to dismantle the structures of oppression with the marginalized group (Source). Accomplice is more action oriented than allyship. The point that Rayne drove home was the importance of actively working to educate yourself about the systemic causes of oppression to equip yourself to take appropriate action in pursuit of a cause. Not only is it important to stand up with those experiencing injustice, it is also important to work with them to lead change.
Quote: “The goal of an accomplice is that I am here with you… and I am sacrificing my comfort in pursuit of this struggle with you… I am willing to put my life on the line for this”
4. Put your oxygen mask on first
When asked about taking care of her own mental health when advocating, Rayne shared the importance of unplugging and checking in with herself. She notes that it is important to incorporate self-care in everyday aspects of your life to help sustain you. When being a part of a movement and advocating, taking care of yourself becomes fundamental to keep the movement going. So, take a day off, give yourself a face mask night, go offline for a few days! Whatever you need to take care of you.
“Self-care is revolutionary … It is a truly radical idea to take care of yourself, your body and mind” - Rayne Fisher-Quann
5. Contribute to the cause based on your circumstances and knowledge. There’s no blueprint for advocacy.
In order to learn how you can contribute in your own way to the movement, engage in education related to the causes you are passionate about. Activism doesn’t have to always be protests or online movements. The most radical activism is to care about people in your community in the best way you can. The heart of activism is having a passion to make things better, motivating yourself to learn and unlearn, and give yourself and others space to educate each other and make each other better as people.
"Education is the most powerful tool to create change." - Rayne Fisher-Quann
In conversation with Rayne, she touched on various facets of activism and discussed how individuals can define advocacy based on their specific circumstances. Her journey exemplifies the process of identifying a problem, learning about the potential solutions, and motivating others to organize with her on the path to bettering the community.
This event was moderated by Jazé Leads.