Get To Know Annie Ohana

We interviewed our 2022 Grand Marshals to highlight their contributions to the betterment of our communities while inspiring others to join. Read below to learn more about Annie Ohana. Annie is a cis-pansexual educator and community activist, with an academic and organizing background in anti-oppression work that has always placed 2SLGBTQAI+ issues at the forefront of her work.

What does #TogetherAgain mean to you? 

 Let no pandemic nor propaganda tear us apart. While certainly, COVID looms large in our minds as an existential threat that split us apart, more importantly, #TogetherAgain is a reminder that the fight for queer justice never ends. That we come together again, to continue to commit ourselves to the work that needs to be done, to the celebrations we need to have, and to the community, we continue to build in an ever more inclusive way. Together Again means transforming our education systems so that our communities can truly be one, rather than splintered factions of ideology and divisiveness. #Together Again because nothing can ever truly separate us.

What is the advocacy and activism work that is closest to your heart?. 

Do I have to choose? I don’t mean to joke, I mean in all seriousness that the more I learn about activism, advocacy and fight, the more questions I have on how to bring a truly just world forward. Delve into how to end cis-heteronormativity and you find yourself in activism for Indigenous Sovereignty and Decolonization.  Take on ableism and find yourself in the fight against economic injustice and patriarchy. At the end of the day as an educator, perhaps one thing stands above all, we are all teachers, we all play a role, justice is love in action, and to love oneself and others are paramount. Teaching such principles, and loving my fellow human beings in all their beautiful identities is perhaps the most important advocacy work we can build foundations with. Strong proud humans will fight for their rights and find ways to connect with other folxs, never seeking zero-sum game wins but rather collective gains for all. Fight for one, Fight for all.

Tell us a little about a special moment where you felt love for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community?

There are so very many, but I will choose one from the field of education. I am honoured to be a member of the same profession and union as James Chamberlain. As a school teacher, he took on the Surrey School District, all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, in a David vs Goliath battle that would change the course of education forever. The books that are allowed in our classrooms today, the activism of so many teachers, and the fight for social justice as an instrumental part of our pedagogy and curriculum, it is queer folx like James who helped lead the way. The love I feel for the reality of standing on the shoulders of giants, 2SLGBTQ+ folx that fought not just for themselves but for others, the entire spectrum, was a moment of revelation that still carries me to this day. For the inclusion, for the love, for the fight, for the relentless quest for protecting education and youth, much love indeed

 If you were to share something with your younger self about Pride, what would you say? 

I would tell my younger self that letting anyone else’s metrics of identity define you is the stupidest and most dangerous thing you can do. To question endlessly when people suggest you are too loud, too political, too different, or too outside what is “Accepted”.  And when people try to shut down your pride, find a way to celebrate it every day. Find chosen family, find a space, and let Pride lead the way. Pride is not just in the most colourful and loudest of moments, but in the quietest most reflective ones too.

Pride is larger than ourselves, how do you center community in your advocacy?

Can we advocate without community? To truly be a co-conspirator, a fighter, and an advocate, you cannot center yourself above all else. I think to the ideals in Sikhism of Seva, I think to the Jewish ideals of Tikkun Olam, and so many more when making sure that advocacy grows from the very grassroots. How we listen to learn, how we plan to act, how we restore justice, how we reconcile out of genocide to justice, Queer pride stands strong because of community and community stands strong because of Queer Pride.  From dialogue to growth, connection to action, always hand in hand. We will all feel included, respected, and seen when we stand as a community resplendid in diversity. I center community by engaging youth, bringing together different people and weaving webs that make our communities stronger. I seek intersectionality by ever learning and growing from communities different than mine. Education does not exist in the box of a 4 wall classroom, and neither should advocacy.