an aunty, book worm,
artist, beach lover,
and seeker of joy & liberation.
Who am I?
That artsy odd ball tia/auntie/older sister who gets way too excited about super nerdy stuff and usually has a random (and sometimes helpful) fun fact for any occasion.
I am also a queer, Latinx femme of African, Central American Indigenous and European ancestry, born on the stolen lands of the Huetar speaking people, (in what is colonially known as Costa Rica), and raised on the stolen lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people, (in what is colonially known as Vancouver, BC).
I am a decolonization coach, educator, facilitator and creative who brings a healing-centered approach and intersectional lens to the unlearning spaces I create, so that individuals and organizations can:
- understand how our identities and oppressive systems create our experiences and behavioural patterns
- practice interrupting behavioural patterns that lead to overwhelm and burnout
- experiment creatively with what resistance and liberation practices look like for us, and
- confidently embody joy-filled and collective social change.
MY LIBERATION JOURNEY IS FRAMED BY:
EDUCATION I am always in progress - learning and unlearning.
CREATIVITY My arts practice informs my future building.
COMMUNITY My responsibility to be in right relationship with others and the natural world.
Master of Education in Arts for Social Change
Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Studies
Certificate in Community Capacity Building
Director of Education with decolonization lens
Culturally affirming mental health care
Arts and culture community builder
Want to know more?
Here is a bit of my story . . .
SINCE MY TEENS I HAVE BEEN ASKING MYSELF, "WHAT IS MY LEGACY?"
As the eldest daughter of a big Latinx immigrant family I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility.
I was extremely aware of the privileges I had living in North America in comparison to family members still living in Central America. I felt unworthy of enjoying these privileges and my guilt led me to dedicating a lot of my time to the responsibilities given to me because of my gender and position in the family, and choosing jobs where I could be of service.
Not feeling worthy could bring up guilt when I did something small (like sitting down and resting instead of pushing through tiredness and working), or something bigger (like going to Disneyland as a youth counsellor and not going on any of the rides because I felt it would betray my family).
I found worth in working and volunteering in non-profits for many years. I knew my work was important and that kept me going in this exploitative industry despite always being in a state of burn out, or near burn out.
I WAS CREATING CHANGE, BUT WAS FEELING STUCK AND BURNT OUT
I felt like every day was groundhog day.
A coworker encouraged me to take some time off, another helped me get to therapy (cuz, surprisingly, many of us in non profit mental health settings don't look after our own mental health). Therapy allowed me to begin to take up space in my own life for healing and seeing my experiences as valid. This led me to begin to interrogate how I move through the world, and the systems that shape our society.
AND THEN, I WOKE UP
I realized I was trying to change a system that could not be changed and was actually designed to oppress me and others like me. I realized I had to resist and dismantle the system to create the change I wanted to see and that the work I had been doing up until then was just a band-aid solution that led to burn out in well meaning people and no real change for those we were serving.
And so I began to resist it and learn what was needed in order to create the change I wanted to see. I started with a Masters, but that didn't give me sufficient information to dismantle the systems that created institutions such as formal education, so I dedicated a year to self guided learning after that to supplement my learnings. My learnings led me to abolition, decolonization, re-indigenization, ancestry, relationship with land, and so much more.
Not only was I learning new things, but I was integrating them. I now knew why certain spaces and people made me feel like I had to work harder to fit in. I now knew why certain identities of mine would often hold more weight than others and the responsibilities I had to myself and others because of that. And I started showing up differently, resulting in changes at work, and in social circles - always for the better but often hard AF.
I resist these systems of oppression in order to minimize their harm towards me and others AND in resisting them make space for a liberation practice that includes creativity, joy, rest, and community.
I still hold the value of justice and social change, but I practice it differently now.
It is not MY work now, it is a work I do as part of a COLLECTIVE.
It is based on the legacy of those that came before me, collectively with those around me and knowing that those that come after me will continue it.
I am finally honouring the person I was before society told me who should be, a person who loves learning, teaching, creativity and community, a person who is worthy of rest, joy, love and pleasure and a person who doesn't have to work to be worthy, but is worthy because I am a living being. Knowing that in just being, I am resisting and practicing liberation.
The relationship I have with myself and my community (past, present and future) is informed by the relationships modeled by the natural world. To create sustainable change, I look to the ecosystems that have been changing sustainably for millions of years.
I now have space to imagine the future I want to contribute to, I now know the legacy I want to leave.
Daniela GR Consulting is an expression of my new rules and my own Creative Liberation Practice.