Student Life

Discussing identity and politics of adoption

Annette Kassaye and Nakuset explore their identities as adoptees in first event of series

On Friday Jan. 30 the Centre for Gender Advocacy will begin a semester-long series focused around race, gender, and political resistance.

Events will be held every month, each one tackling one particular nuance of these intersections between gender and cultural background.

“There is no possible way, as we see it, to separate gender form race or from class or anything else,” said Maya Rolbin-Ghanie, Publicity and Promotions Coordinator for the Centre for Gender Advocacy.

Annette Kassaye and Nakuset will discuss their experience as adoptees. Photo courtesy of the Centre for Gender Advocacy

“We wanted to have a space where some of these issues could be focused on more than they generally are, we feel that any kind of feminist discussion that isn’t looking at race or cultural identities is quite limited in many ways,” said Rolbin-Ghanie. “It weakens any struggle when intersections aren’t acknowledged.”

The first event, “The Racial and Cultural Politics of Adoption: Adoptee Perspectives”, will be a discussion on politics of adoption, with guest speakers Annette Kassaye and Nakuset.

Kassaye, a Concordia graduate, is a transracial Ethiopian adoptee, who was adopted into an anglophone family from the Eastern Townships when she was a year old. She currently writes for an online magazine, Gazillion Voices and Lost Daughters, which aims to be a forum for adoptees to have their voices heard. She is also the founder of Ethiopian Adoptees of the Diaspora, an organization which also serves as a platform for Ethiopian adoptees to share their stories.

“Adoption is much more of a political issue than people may realize, and being an adoptee can be as well,” said Rolbin-Ghanie. “She’s going to talk about how women, especially women of colour, come up against certain issues when they’ve been adopted into white families.”

Nakuset is Cree from Saskatewan, adopted into a Montreal Jewish family. Growing up, she found it difficult to assume her own identity as a Native person within her adopted family, and has dedicated her adult life to advocating for Native rights. She is the executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, and works with Aboriginal children in care.

The discussion is sure to be eye-opening for anybody interested in identity issues, as well as the general cultural and political implications of adoption, from an adoptee’s eyes.

“Whether or not somebody has been adopted, having this kind of discussion can bring to the forefront a lot of identity issues that a lot of us struggle with,” said Rolbin-Ghanie. “So many of us have to deal with being isolated identity-wise in so many ways, whether its race, being a minority, language, class, gender, and I think the discussion on adoption will raise some really interesting questions about notions of adoption, and how many people see it as a really benevolent act to adopt a child, but theres so many racial and cultural undertones and implications to it.”

The talk will be held Fri Jan. 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. in EV 1.605, 1515 Ste-Catherine St. W.


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