Activate Your Activism

“It’s important for me to empower other women, young and old to chase after their dreams, to not filter what they want to say, to not apologize all the time, to not soften their speech, to continue being assertive and that it doesn’t make them a “bitch” and to always be unapologetically themselves. I realize that the backbone to society  is women. That being an educated and outspoken women is not a shame and being unapologetically yourself is beautiful. That you can stand for social justice but also love fashion and makeup.  I try my hardest to tear down stereotypes and to shut down misogyny and patriarchal behaviour as much as I can. I choose to recognize and uplift women as opposed to tearing them down, because let’s be honest society makes it difficult as it is. I think women are Wonder Women in their own ways.”

Charity starts at home and ends abroad! How familiar are you with this expression and, more importantly, with what it means? Well, the gist of this wise saying is “You must first help yourself in order to help others.” This is a sentiment that she.lace constantly grapples with because we pride ourselves on being selfless. Wait a moment… go back to the previous sentence and give it a closer examination. Did we just, inadvertently, equate taking care of ourselves before others to being selfish? Yup,unconsciously, we just did and that’s problematic… here’s why.  At face value, the concept that “you can’t help others until you’ve helped yourself” isn’t remotely selfish by nature. In fact, we’ll go as far as to suggest it’s a sign of rationality and intelligence. So, the intelligent question becomes: how can you, truly, be of service to others without first being of service to yourself? The rational answer is: you cannot. Seems like we’ve found ourselves in a conundrum… how does one know when they’ve “helped” themselves enough to be capable of helping others? Well, our answer is to “activate your activism”. Plainly stated, find a way to help yourself by (through, via, etc.) helping others. If you can do something that enables you to be of service to yourself through your service to others your charity has left home and is heading abroad. Safe travels!

Charity, this is the key word in the expression we opened the blog with that we should look at further:

noun | char-i-ty
:benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity; generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; an institution engaged in relief of the poor raised funds for several charities; a gift for public benevolent purposes.

Notwithstanding that the definition(s) above describe the practice of raising funds (or other desirable goods and/or services)… it may be fair to suggest that charity is synonymous with “free”. As in, individuals who offer a good and/or service without expecting a “medium of exchange” in return from the recipients : no money, no labour, no favour. The irony that charity demands no exchange of “value” and yet the value being exchanged is priceless. For example, we hope all our readers extract maximum “value” from this free blog 😉. Monetary compensation is the least of she.lace’s concern, and why? Well, this is how we activate our activism! We know a young lady who’s rendering her charitable services to the world… and trust us, she’s mastered the process of helping yourself while helping others.

More like nourishing herself while healing others, educating herself while informing others, learning about herself while reporting on others and building her narrative while telling the stories of others. Consider this introduction our charitable donation of providing you a model (double entendre alert) of how to activate your activism. Journalist, activist, fashion/makeup guru, storyteller…but her family and friends call her Dalia. Wait a minute, we must interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post to bring you a special report on how to activate your activism…. @daliareports we’re coming live to you.

Consider this a report on Dalia, what would the viewers learn?

Dalia: The viewers will learn that as much as i’m a silly person who loves to joke around, I love talking about things that matter, and having intelligent discussions. They will learn that as much as I’m outgoing and love clowning around here and there, that social justice is a big part of who I am and what matters to me. They will also learn that I’m a journalist that’s trying to stand out as opposed to being just another mold in the mainstream media. They will learn how important it’s to be aware of the world around us, and to not live in a bubble and be ignorant to the things that go on around us. They will learn I’m outspoken, Jacqueline of all traits (I have two YouTube channels that I’ve created – The ViewPoint tv and DaliaBeauty tv) and I am interning for PWB (Photographers without Borders). They will learn that I have a burning love for my career, and that I strongly believe in “do what you love and love what you do, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. They will learn I speak 4 languages; I also love the world of makeup and fashion; I am a travel bug; I love yoga but i’m definitely no expert; I love writing and listening to music and my loved ones mean the world to me.  

How, if at all, is @daliareports different or the same from the person you just described?

Dalia Reporting

Dalia: @daliareports is the same because although journalism is my career, you have to love hearing people’s stories and constantly know what’s happening around you. And that’s reflective of my personality and not just my profession. I like listening to what my friends or people I meet have to say. I love hearing people’s stories and I’m curious by nature. Which ties in perfectly with my profession because I’m constantly interacting with people and reading about issues taking place around the world. The only difference is @daliareports is always on the go and sometimes I have to remind myself to slow down because I like to take things easy. [Meanwhile] @daliareports wants to report on a billion things and be constantly running around, and sometimes spreading herself too thin. But at the end of the day, I remind myself that it’s worth it because maybe the stories I’m sharing or telling can teach someone something new or allow someone to relate.

It’s clear to us that you have a very interesting point of view, so explain to us what the ViewPoint is?

Dalia: Haha! Well being in mainstream media, and being a journalist in general, you’re taught to disconnect from the subject and not be bias. However, when I decided to create The ViewPoint tv, I figured I’d have control on what I want to report on. I think THAT makes a great journalist. If you’re passionate about something and you have your views, why not go find those stories and report about them and share them with the world? I still know how to be professional and not be buddies with the subjects, and I do think that’s important. However, I don’t think it’s 100% possible to be unbiased. That [bias] is part of the passion that can drive you to chase a story that you think is important, and that the world should know about.

You have a VERY impressive resume. Give us a quick run down of the things you’ve done in the last year…

Dalia: First of all, THANK YOU. I really don’t think my resume is that impressive haha. I still feel like I have lots to do and offer this world, and lots to accomplish in my career. I landed an amazing internship when I was a student at Seneca College in Prince George, B.C for the Canada Winter Games. I was the coordinating producer (french), and reporter. I also interned at RogersTV for an Arabic show where I reported on events in the community. After I graduated from Seneca College, I landed my first job as a translator and transcriber at CTV News (National) during the [2015 Canadian] Federal Election. After I finished that gig, I was a freelance Librarian at CTV Toronto. I basically had to archive the footage and help reports with the footage they needed for them to package their reports. I also freelanced with VICE as a translator and transcriber. I am currently interning with PWB (photographers without borders). I decided to start my own media outlet from scratch a few months ago, The ViewPoint tv. I created the name, logo, I package my own reports and chase after my own stories.

What is the most memorable/meaningful?

Dalia: The most memorable gig was the internship in British Columbia. It taught me a lot about being a team leader and a team player. It taught me how it is to be working in a fast paced environment. The internship taught me a lot about multimedia Journalism (the show for Canada Games was on YouTube). It also taught me that being organized really matters, and being patient and composed is important as well.

If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything…What does this phrase mean to you?

Dalia: We live in a day and age were most people see something happening and they’ll stand and watch, literally, they’ll watch and then record it or take a picture on their phone. I was brought up to always fight for what’s right and fight for what I believe in, and to fear no man on this planet. From a young age I’ve been sensitive. At the time [I thought] it was a bad thing and I was picked on for it. Now I realize I’m an empath so I easily empathize with people I know or don’t know. Whether it’s the homeless man or woman on the street, a casualty of war, or the person with the biggest smile but is crushed inside. On top of my personality, I was brought up attending protests, peace rallies and donating/helping those in need. Therefore, the saying “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” really resonates with me because I think it’s important to stand for what is right, even if that means you’re alone and even if it means it’s difficult. It’s easier to fall for anything, especially if it’s the easier route to take. I also believe that as mankind we’re all connected. If someone’s hurting, whether that’s figuratively or literally (even if it’s someone in a war torn country), I bleed and hurt too and it’s my duty as their sister in this world to help in anyway I can.

How do you stand for women’s empowerment?

Dalia: This question means a lot to me. I actually didn’t understand how much women empowerment meant to me until I finished University and experienced things in the “real world” as an adult. I’ve always been a sensitive person, so genders didn’t mean anything to me. If someone was hurting or being bullied I wanted to help. However, as I got older I became educated about terminologies relative to things I was experiencing because I’m a woman. I just didn’t know or didn’t think my girlfriends were going through the same thing or that there were actually words for these actions. For example, I didn’t know the terms or sayings misogyny, patriarchy, gender roles, sexual harassment, xenophobia and bigotry existed. Or I guess I knew they existed, and I experienced certain things, but I just thought “ok well, it is what it is, i’ll just suck it up and keep my head up” or ” I better laugh off what this guy just said or else he’ll say I’m bitchy if I speak up”. My mom stayed at home to raise my brother and I while my father worked. My mom sacrificed and has done a lot for my family. She also has a strong personality that I absolutely love and admire. She’s so kind and yet outspoken, assertive and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Yet, I’ve never witnessed her tear down another woman’s character or gossip. I think being surrounded by that has definitely influenced me as a young female adult. I have removed derogatory words from my vocabulary and regret the day I ever used them (slut, whore, bitch, etc.).

I come from a culture where women are often times criticized and judged by what they wear and what comes out of their mouth. I used to wear the hijab and then took it off, so I see the difference in treatment. My mom never used to wear the hijab growing up and now she does and I see what she goes through. But my parents always raised me to believe that my character is not defined by fabric I wear on my head, but rather by what comes out of my mouth and how you treat others. Now as an adult I realize there’s so much more to a woman than what she wears or doesn’t wear.

What does it look like to you?

Dalia: It’s important for me to empower other women, young and old, to chase after their dreams; to not filter what they want to say; to not apologize all the time; to not soften their speech; to continue being assertive and that it doesn’t make them a “bitch” and to always be unapologetically themselves. I realize that the backbone to society is women. That being an educated and outspoken woman isn’t a shame, and being unapologetically yourself is beautiful. That you can stand for social justice but also love fashion and makeup. I try my hardest to tear down stereotypes and to shut down misogyny and patriarchal behaviour as much as I can. I choose to recognize and uplift women as opposed to tearing them down, because let’s be honest society makes it difficult as it is. I think women are “Wonder Women” in their own ways. So every Wednesday on @daliareports I choose a woman, whether I know her or not, and I share her story and why I think she’s inspiring. I call it #WednesdaysWonderWomen

Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 8.54.03 PM

Why did you model for she.lace?

Dalia: I modelled for she.lace because I think she.lace is empowering to women and creative. Women are often seen in heels or flats. But to take something like sneakers and shed light on stories that lay behind them, or should I say, inside them… is great! I’m not a sneakerhead, that’s for sure. But I like the idea of taking a walk in a woman’s shoe, a woman you may or may not know. I love the idea that it’s original and contributes to social justice and women empowerment.

What role do sneakers play in your life?

Dalia: I’m constantly on the run. Whether it’s meetings or reporting. I used to wear heels all the time especially for work related purposes. And then one day, it dawned on me that my health definitely comes first… and to hell with that saying “beauty is pain”. I wear my sneakers when I’m running around from one place to another because i[they’re] comfortable. I like fashion too, so IF I feel like I want to wear my heels I’ll change into them later, but I won’t sacrifice my health for the heels. Secondly, for four years I’ve participated in a 5k run that’s held in Toronto by an NGO I respect so comfortable running shoes are definitely important.

You were wearing the Nike Free Run at the photoshoot. Explain why the name of this sneaker is perfectly fitting for you?

Dalia: I see people around the world who face many injustices, whether they are prisoners on their own land and face the struggles of being under occupation (for example, Palestine – occupied for over 50 years). I see people around the world, and even in Toronto, who are controlled and treated unjustly. Who are discriminated against (whether it be because of their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation etc.) and I’m 100% against that. I’m a strong advocate for freedom whether it’s physical, mental or spiritual. I try to do my share in this world and contribute anyway I can (whether it’s helping and working for an NGO or donating to one, or signing a petition, etc). I know I can’t free everyone but it’s a hope inside me that by doing my part in this world, even if it’s something small, it’s ONE step closer to freedom for someone… hopefully. “The people united, will never be defeated”. So Nike “Free” is definitely fitting haha!

Let’s do word association: Journalism___


This is your report on she.lace, what would your signoff say?

Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 9.22.23 PM.png

“For she.lace I’m Dalia Ashry.” haha. BUT, on a more creative note…

“One small step for women is one giant leap for mankind, for she.lace, I’m Dalia Ashry.” Get it? As opposed to the saying “one small step for man is one giant…” woo!

So, when you’re chasing and producing stories about social justice, creating content promoting women’s empowerment and making the world a beautiful place (literally and figuratively)…what sneakers do you wear? Let’s just say something that helps one run after their pursuit of freedom for all.

IMG_7935 (1)

The Nike Free is, literally, made for running and if we didn’t know any better we would think it was a custom Nike ID design for Dalia. Yes, she participates in an annual 5km charity run for a Toronto-based NGO…but that’s not why.

“I know I can’t free everyone but it’s a hope inside me that by doing my part in this world, even if it’s something small, it’s ONE step closer to freedom for someone… if the people are united, and not defeated, then they shall be free or at least one step closer to freedom. So Nike ‘Free’ is definitely fitting haha!”

⬆️ That’s why! Dalia literally runs for freedom, it’s in her nature as a social justice advocate. Which makes the Nike Run a perfect match, once again, because the design and innovation was inspired by…nature. The natural movements of barefeet running that is. According to Nike, the Free is designed to simulate the feeling of running barefoot. The mechanisms of the sneakers (what they call a “revolutionary” flexible outsole) is meant to expand and contract with a runner’s foot effortlessly in the attempt to mimic natural movement. Sometimes a sneaker just “naturally” finds someone, and this is case with Dalia and the Nike Free. Whether it’s for comfort or political/social views both are designed to run free…it would seem the pursuit of natural motion of a sneaker, is helping with natural motion of an activist.

Speaking of nature, we had a philosophical question we wanted help answering: If a sneaker runs through a forest, and it’s super lightweight…does it leave an “impact”? Dalia got us our response: it depends on what you mean by impact.

Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 8.49.41 PM

Tucked into the northwest corner of Toronto (known as Etobicoke for those of us with pre-amalgamation pride) is a urban forestry oasis known as the Humber Arboretum. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Horticulture students at Humber College using the natural habitat on the south end of their campus to create an advanced ecological model that supports, nourishes and maintains vital local ecosystems (forests, wetlands, meadows, ponds, etc.). According to the website, the mandate of The Arb is to: establish and maintain living plant collections, demonstrate correct horticultural and arboricultural techniques, conserve and restore natural areas and wildlife, facilitate research and education, and provide a welcoming space for people to gather. This has certainly been accomplished! The 250-acre landscape is the result of collaboration between Humber College, the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation.

The list of things to do and discover in The Arb is endless…but we’ll list a few of the highlights:
– Carolinian Life Zone
– 1700 species of plants and trees (E.g. black walnut, shagbark hickory, pawpaw, sugar maple–used for the famous sap extraction)
– Wildflowers
– The West Humber River (A Canadian Heritage river)
– Wildlife: white-tailed deer, chipmunks, groundhogs, beavers, coyotes, rabbits, red foxes, opossum, fish, frogs, snapping turtles, hawks, owls, woodpeckers, waterfowl and songbirds…to name a few
– All-America Selections Display Gardens
– The Tranquility Bird Garden
– The Centre for Urban Ecology
*a great example of how technology can be used to preserve the natural world*
Walking trails/Discovery Walks

From school programs offering educational tours, to both children and adult camps, to the applied research and conservation…The Arb is an natural oasis. So, if you ever feel like exploring a beautiful natural habitat in the city of Toronto we suggest you head to Humber College Boulevard and starting walking through the trails. It may be difficult to find a better example of urban forestry for a long time after your visit.

Dalia establishing

Peace rallies, Volunteering for NGOs, #WednesdaysWonderWomen, fluent in four languages… It’s in Dalia’s nature to educate the world. Exercising her rights, while running for others…speaking from her moral grounds, while yelling for moral “earthquakes” of others. Now, this is some “groundbreaking” work (see how our puns “shake up” things 😉) and it requires an individual who can stand firm for something they believe in. Dalia has decided to infuse her career in journalism with her passion for social justice. Of course, this requires her to walk a fine line between being optimally objective (expressing journalistic rigour) and not wavering on her commitment to share her viewpoint of the world. But it becomes less of a challenge to be confined by “walking that line” when you’re “running” for freedom. We may not all be social justice warriors with aspirations to educate the world via reporting. This is absolutely fine, and actually a good thing. Let’s not forget, “charity starts at home and ends abroad”… so there’s plenty of room for different forms of charity. Here’s what she.lace suggests, take Dalia’s word associations for her passion and apply it towards yours: exposure, curiosity, teaching, learning, communication, recording, documenting. Even if all aren’t applicable, use the ones that are to activate your activism. Some of us have to train ourselves to activate our activism, first by taking care of ourselves. For Dalia all she has to do is slip on her Nike Free sneakers grab her DSLR, tripod and mic…and the activism begins.

“This is one act of freedom, supporting the freedom to act. For @daliareports, we’re she.lace.”

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