As part of TRU Research Week, we were invited to host a pop up workshop and we also attended a number of classes including the art students and the tourism class.
Being hosted at Thompson Rivers University during Research Week meant high participation numbers - we had hundreds of women from all backgrounds and communities join us to share reflections on Kamloops.
Beginning with a pop-up workshop in the always busy Student Street of Old Main, we had many women drop in between coffee, lunch, class and all those other student activities. TRU serves nearly 26,000 students total of which 10.2% are international and 9.9% are Aboriginal, and many grew up in Kamloops. This diversity informed the map making and encouraged lively discussion among participants. Many students were new to Kamloops and hadn't yet experienced much beyond the TRU campus, whereas others have grown up here and have become much acquainted with the area.
One immediate theme that became apparent is the social nature of safety and beauty. Communities across the city have been realized and it is in these pockets of friends, family, and shared interests where we witnessed beauty grow. One participant witnesses beauty coming to life when she visits the Sikh Temple on Cambridge Crescent.
The connections that women forge in new communities came out almost immediately as well. A TRU Sorority began a collaborative map together, sharing the spaces and neighborhoods they get together in as spaces of safety. Safety, for these contributors, were the women they met while at school and who were on hand whenever needed. Safety is the friends who had been there countless times before and would be there to support one another at the drop of the hat. Safety are the connections made in a new city with other women seeking their own adventures.
Working with a changing group as women come and went allowed us to reflect on our shared appreciation and our familiarity with the spaces around us. As many students were new to Kamloops, they may have felt as though they did not have much to share about the city, but quickly our large map got covered in blue for beauty. The hills, parks, and green areas radiated blue as so many contributors thought of the excellent views from Kamloops and the green space they visit for study breaks.