Passport to Unity (PTU) Opening Night, Friday, May 1st, 2015,at The Delta Waterfront featured comedian, Sabrina Jalees. Her message is one of unity, and provided a very fitting reminder for the roots of this annual celebration of community, and inclusion.
Sabrina Jalees is a featured comedian on the TV revival show ‘MatchGame’. She is a regular contributor to The Toronto Star, and winning participant in ‘Last Comic Standing’. Sabrina continues to host a regular podcast. She uses her clever wit and humour to share a very personal journey that traverses the years as she learns to live her truth. “The more we own the things that make us different, the more we will embrace diversity in everyone.”
Sabrina grew up in a home where the path to Canada included immigration from Pakistan. “My dad would blast the Top 40 BollyWood station in the mini van when he picked me up at school” Sabrina relates this story when sharing uncomfortable memories of highschool, and the attempt to fit in. “I started writing jokes partly as a way to combat racism. The process of writing helped me to identify what made me feel uncomfortable.” It was in highschool that Sabrina started to own her own truth. “I faced another challenge” she shared “I had to own who I was. Owning my authentic self. That I am gay. 10 -15 years ago, there was nothing really for me to look to; to see myself as normal. It was difficult to ‘come out’ to my family. My father is Muslim. And from Pakistan. My mother said to me ‘I just don’t believe you’. It’s been a long road, but over time, they realize I’m the same person. The same Sabrina I always have been.”
Today, Sabrina lives in New York City, and is happily married. She shared a humorous story involving her father-in-law and taking up the sport of fishing to try and be “the son-in-law he always hoped for.”
Sabrina encouraged the audience to embrace racial diversity, and to find ways where interactions with our fellow man and woman could “unlock opportunities for greater understanding” of what makes us community. “As a country’s mind is collectively evolving, (towards racial inclusion, gay, lesbian and transgendered acceptance) so too will we see that what makes us different, is also the richest part of who we are as a country, as a community.”
In the words of Sabrina Jalees. “Loosen up people, we’re all in this together.” Sabrina’s star continues to rise, as she builds an authentic life of purpose, driven to find humour in spaces and places where racial diversity and conversations about gay, lesbian and transgendered persons can flourish. Through her humour, writing and energetic comic shows, Sabrina engages with her audience in laughter and powerful storytelling.
The Opening Night celebrations also featured several individuals and one group earning ‘Community Driven Awards’. This 2nd year, PTU event award, sponsored by Great Lakes Honda, recognizes ‘community drivers’, who through their individual efforts and commitment to community, are awarded through a nomination process.
Community Driven Awards in the following categories were handed out by Great Lakes Honda’s Francine Floreani. Group, Leadership, Volunteer, and Students in HighSchool, Elementary and Post Secondary.
ACCANO, African Caribbean Canadian Association of Northern Ontario won in the Group category. Jane Omollo accepted the award on behalf of ACCANO. Don Marshall, Sault Search and Rescue, was awarded for Volunteer category. Don McGorman won in the Leadership category for his work with Clean North and more. Dave Mornix was awarded in the Post-Secondary School category for his work with ACCANO as well as mentoring students at Algoma University.
A complete list of names of the winners in each category will be posted on The Great Lakes Honda Website http://www.greatlakeshonda.com/ as well as The Sault Community Career Centre, Passport to Unity.
To learn more about Sabrina Jalees, check out the website http://www.sabrinajalees.com/