Our Bravery Can Design the Future by Fernanda Gabriela Rodrigues

Black and white illustration of Harriet Tubman

Illustration by Ana-Marija Vlahovic


Deciding to start a new life in a different country is an act of bravery. We leave our relatives, friends, our culture to begin a life practically from zero in a very welcoming but strange country. Harriet Tubman's life story shows us a beautiful example of bravery. The picture shows Harriet running away by herself when her brothers gave up because of a storm, and they said: "That woman is braver than any man I've ever known." Harriet Tubman was a slave who refused to accept slavery as a common thing and she fought for her beliefs. Harriet gave us a good example of bravery; in addition, she encouraged us to stand up for our dreams.

The book "Harriet Tubman" tells a story about a fearless woman that led hundreds of slaves to freedom along secret paths. Her legacy is celebrated every year on March 10th, the day that she passed away in 1913 at the age of 92. There's no slavery anymore, at least not in Canada, and here we have the unique opportunity to make the world hear our causes. Maybe here you have the chance to talk about something that is happening in your country that many people know nothing about. For example, in Brazil, if you defend human rights and investigate deaths caused by police, you can be killed like Marielle Franco, a female politician who was executed by militias, which many journalists suspect are formed by police officers. But here in Canada, I can talk about police that abuse their powers against black and poor people in Brazil without fearing for my safety.

Curiously, when TV shows or movies talk about traveling to the past, they show concern that a small action in the past can change the present, but none think that even a small action in the present can change the future. Let's think about this for a moment; we think that it is wrong to bring light to things that happen, but we don't discuss this for many reasons. For example, we think people will not be interested, or it can be sad things, or we just want to leave it behind with the life that we ran away from. Like Harriet, we have to be brave during these times, and when something really wrong is happening in some part of the world, just say it out loud. Or we can settle in a safe life and not say anything. On one hand you can choose to be quiet because it hurts to remember and you just want to forget; on the other hand you can speak of your version of the facts because you experienced it, and it will be the closest version to the truth, and this might change things a little bit, and make more people care about something important to you.

Don’t adapt to the situation; we can always do something to make the world a better place like Harriet did. We already took the first step when we came to Canada. I invite you to discuss this with your group of classmates and friends. What do you think is important for the world to know about the place you came from? How do you think the situation can be changed? How do the authorities deal with the situation?  There’s always something we can do. Stand up for your causes! Anything is possible if we believe in our strength, and even small actions can help to change the future.

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Fernanda Gabriela Rodrigues arrived in Hamilton in January of 2016 and in March 2018, she started taking English classes at Mohawk where she completed the LINC College Preparation program. Fernanda is a journalist from Brazil and her goal is to acquire the English required to be a journalist in Canada. She loves hiking, nature and playing with her 5 year old child.

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Ana-Marija Vlahovic, LINC student at Mohawk College

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