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Belonging and Connection: Spoken Word Artist Visits SMCS

“The Godfather” of Canadian spoken word, Dwayne Morgan, joined the St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) community recently to support the school in observing Ontario’s Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week.

Morgan, a Canadian spoken word artist and motivational speaker, spoke to two student assemblies on fostering a sense of belonging and connection at SMCS through the lens of race, gender, and equality by addressing “what disconnection looks like, and what we can do to create cohesion in our school and living environments.”

Dwayne Morgan speaking to SMCS students on belonging and connection

The event was put together thanks to the efforts of the school’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee’s student engagement team.

“Through spoken word and engaging stories, Morgan challenged students that belonging and kindness start with ‘choosing yourself’ – we live up or down to the things we believe about ourselves and so, in order to create positivity in our communities, we need to focus on the things that we love about ourselves,” says Liat Benzacar, Student Wellness Officer. “When we believe that we are worthy of love and speak dreams into existence, we are not only able to be the best versions of ourselves, but also lift up the people around us.”

As a self-identified shy introvert, Morgan uses poetry as a form of self-reflection to inspire change and make an impact. His international career has included publishing 14 books, nine albums, and performing for the likes of former President of the United States, Barack Obama, the former Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, the late leader of the NDP, Jack Layton, among others.

“Mr. Morgan really made me reflect on and realize the importance of self-love in effecting positive change,” says Darcy Blaik, Grade 12. “He helped me see that I can’t show others who I want to be, without showing myself first.”

Dwayne Morgan speaking to SMCS students on belonging and connection

In a world of social media paired with a global pandemic, many young people share posts publicly seeking validation. Morgan urged students to “play on the court of life” instead of choosing to be a spectator by thinking of life as a mirror that reflects our choices back to us.

Benzacar adds, “Community and belonging start by looking inward and loving yourself.”

Morgan challenged students to consider what criteria they use when choosing friends and considering keeping close the ones who know our likes and dislikes and help each of us pave the path of success – not those who chose to stand in the way of our hopes and dreams. Furthermore, he asked students to share love with people in their lives by challenging societal norms that dictate that boys and men should not express emotion.

“I enjoyed Mr. Morgan’s presentation as it helped me to reflect on stereotypes in our society, in particular how it is not right that men are stereotyped to be tough and show no emotion,” says Antonio Marsala, Grade 7. “Men should not worry about what other people think or how they are ‘supposed to act’. If men were open and honest about their feelings, and they sought help, we would have many more healthy men in our world. We need to put aside these inaccurate stereotypes and take action to help ourselves and others.”

Morgan’s presentation will be followed up with a ParenTalks conversation and senior leaders creative writing workshop in the new year.

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