Maigan van der Giessen
Maigan van der Giessen grew up on treaty 6 territory and works in the Edmonton/ Amiskwaciwaskahikan community as an artist, activist, human rights facilitator and youth mentor. She has a BA from the University of Alberta in Political Science and Middle Eastern and African Studies and is passionate about art therapy and ethnomusicology. In her role as Creative Lead for the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, Maigan uses participatory arts as a tool to facilitate deeper understanding and exploration of social justice issues with community members. Her approach to creating social change focuses on providing space and opportunities for marginalized voices and grassroots movements to document and express their perspectives on critical issues.
Maigan is a mother, an emcee (tzadeka), event promoter, community builder and ally in the fight for justice and equality.
I am spirit here having a human experience! Included in that experience were the births of three children, two sons and a daughter. Two of them, my daughter and eldest son, have provided me with the Joy of three grand- children. My eldest granddaughter gave birth to our sunshine, my great grandson almost 6 years ago. My family, Dad, Mom and five children, moved to a lumber camp in northern Alberta from Baptiste Lake near Athabasca when they abandoned a small business of cabins, store and boat rental. We later moved into Whitecourt and lived there until I was seven. Mom gave birth to five more children and when she couldn’t contain her ‘tribe” any longer in Edmonton we moved out to a farm west of Wildwood, Alberta where I lived until I married in 1967.
My deep knowing is that everyone deserves, has a right to and is worthy of justice, peace, compassion, understanding, prosperity, all the good in this world. I have served as an Addictions Counselor, Program Manager, Program Coordinator, Workshop Facilitator and Executive Director to bring into those whom I served the awareness that they have rights, are worthy and do deserve regardless of who they are and what they have done.
Seeing the suffering of people whether through poverty, homelessness, depression, addictions or oppression… injustices have compelled me to take action through prayer, mentoring and support in all capacities.
Four years ago, I landed in this country in Toronto and after 8 months I decided to move to Edmonton, I found Edmonton where my future lies and It is a good place but I need to invest my resource here to make it better than it is. Taiwo also known as Bishop is a well-known member of Edmonton’s ‘social justice community’ – I grew up in deprived communities that were beset by homelessness and poverty, his family and friends were very much engaged in volunteerism. I hold Diploma Degree in Public Administration. I committed to the community development activities and I was a state co-ordinator for International Association for Volunteer Effort which my job was to recruit, celebrate and strengthen the voluntary organisations.
Taiwo is a proven community leader and active advocate for citizenship engagement, he serves on the board for organisations like Nigerian Canadian Association of Edmonton (House Administrator), Boyles Street Community League (Membership Director); Edmonton Coalition for Human Right (Co-chair), community member on Council Initiatives on Public Engagement, Learning and Training Working Group, (Co-chair); Edmonton Coalition for Human Right, Edmonton Local Immigration Partnership (ELIP) member and volunteer for other organisations like John Humphrey Center for Human Rights and Peace, Alberta Council for Global Cooperation, and Africa Center etc. Taiwo is an advocate for active and engaged citizenship, he strives to let the voice of the visible minority be heard in decision that affects their lives, leads and support initiatives that will make a life better and safe for his community, he helped various level of governments and agencies to make decisions/policies that will address the needs of immigrants and refugees. In this capacity, he was twice nominated for the community man award both 2015 and 2016 from Diversity Magazine in Edmonton and also nominated for Everyday Political Citizens in Canada.