Michelle is of Canadian Metis heritage and married to her love, Julius Tekpoh. They were married in Ghana, his home country, in 2011. Michelle lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and is currently awaiting with joyous anticipation, the arrival of Julius in Canada. Her everyday passion is faith, family, friends and creating. Her grown children, Jessica, Eric and Jessica’s husband Stephen bring her great joy and pride. Julius and Michelle co-founded Rhythm International as a concept in Ghana, and Jessica, Eric and Stephen have all been an integral and vital part of founding Rhythm International Foundation of Edmonton. As a family all of us hold to the belief that we are members of a community and as such must do our part to contribute positively. Life is an opportunity to live honorably and create something worth leaving behind. Michelle was educated as a Psychiatric Nurse over thirty years ago and is grateful to have the opportunity to work at a job she loves.
What is your greatest life, artistic, academic and creative achievements?
That is a big question and one that I hope I have not yet fully answered. Certainly I am making some strides towards what I would call my life’s purpose. My education is in Psychiatric Nursing and my day job is working as a Consultant in Addictions and Mental Health in Corrections and Forensics. in the province i live in, in Canada.
When people don’t get the basics of what they need they suffer in ways that overwhelm them and often turn to alcohol or substances to numb their pain. In order to heal, they need help to get the basics,as well as guidance that comes with compassion and understanding so they can choose options other than numbing with substances and breaking the law. The education and programs I promote, are intended to approach suffering in a way that empowers people to make other choices.
In terms of creative achievements my greatest accomplishment would be the publishing and promoting of the Sun and Snow Anthologies. There have been three and a fourth one is in the making. My own poetry and art has taken a bit of a backseat to this work but my goal is to spend more time in the next 10 years creating and compiling some of my own work.
What roles are you playing in transforming your communities?
Creativity is one of our greatest gifts and an amazing bridge to love, health and happiness or at the very least a way to deal with suffering. This brings me to two of my personal passions; poetry and art! Approximately six years ago my husband ( Julius Tekpoh) and I created an organization in Ghana called Rhythm International Foundation. This organization was intended to help create healthy communities by not just attending to the basics but by also promoting story telling and bringing together artists and writers from around the world. Rhythm also took root in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada thanks to family and friends who formed the first Rhythm board. We remain a small but mighty organization that has published three poetry anthologies featuring artists and poets from around the globe. The anthologies are called Sun and Snow and were published in 2010, 2011, and 2013. Our intention is to publish a fourth edition in 2016 called “Coming Home” This edition is in honor of the Truth and Reconciliation work that is being done in Canada. For those who are unfamiliar with Canadian history it is important to know that our country was built on the colonization and genocide of the First Nations People of this land. The wounds of the people are many. Healing begins with exposing and acknowledging the truth.
So my greatest creative achievements, the Sun and Snow publications, have not been done alone but with my husband Julius, adult children Eric, Jessica and Stephen, and all the family and friends, poets and artists, who have sat on the board at various times, and who have been members and supporters of Rhythm International Foundation of Edmonton and Ghana. Please go to our website to read more of who we are and what we do; http://www.rhythminternational.org
Rhythm International Foundation of Edmonton has helped with the restoration work of a small Ghanaian Hospital in Dixcove and we are currently working on raising money to help build two libraries/community centers in Ghana. One in the village community of Gomoa and the other one in Accra (my husband’s home city).
What are your future prospects in your career and your life?
Well as I said earlier the immediate focus is to publish the fourth anthology and then I would like to begin spending some more time focusing on my own art and poetry. Perhaps do some collaborative publications with some poet friends and artists. One needs time to create and so I hope to spend a little more time on my own projects.
What is your parting shot to fellow women and girls?
Women/girls we are a vital part of the foundation of all things because we are the life givers! We have and hold important roles in the world as mothers, daughters, grandmothers, nieces, aunts, friends and as creators and contributors to society through our work and art. No matter what state the world is in or how it tries to keep us down and stifle our voice we must remember who we are and where our power is. Our power is in knowing and in loving who we are! We have a voice and it is an important one and even when others do not validate it we must learn to validate it ourselves. Our power is also in loving others others and that begins with knowing how to love ourselves. The world would have us always comparing ourselves to others and in doing so measure short, but our individual worth can not be compared because we were created unique! For me this is a Spiritual journey and my strength comes from knowing who I am and who created me. I encourage girls and women to really get to know the importance of that inner spiritual journey and how that affects their life’s story.
In so many ways at least from my experience in the west, women fought for rights and freedoms and along the way we got confused and thought that meant we were suppose to become like men. Being equal does not mean the same, being equal means being recognized for who we are. Know and love who you are!
Inserted by Mbizo Chirasha
Blog journal Editor/Founder.