Juliana Kaneda

Top 30 Under 30 2020

Juliana is a queer nonbinary artist living in Edmonton. A student of psychology and gender studies at MacEwan University, Juliana uses their knowledge to host accessible, inclusive, and gender-affirming spaces for queer and trans folk.

About Me

Age: 23

Hometown: Lethbridge, Alberta

Currently Residing In: Edmonton, Alberta

Projects and Organizations

2019–Present: Artists Against Injustice YEG – Co-Founder

Most recently, I have been doing work focusing on using art as a tool for activism with my co-facilitator and co-organizer, Janine. Funded by Plan International Canada, we started a small cohort called Artists Against Injustice YEG that meets up monthly for art skill-building workshops and events. This project is still in its infancy, but our events so far have included an embroidery workshop and a makeup exploration for queer and trans youth.

2019: Queer Arts Market – Organizer

I helped co-organize a Queer Arts Market in Edmonton that highlighted the wonderful local queer and trans artists in our city. My specific domain in this project focused on queer and trans performance artists.

2018–Present: Youth Advocacy Speaker

I spoke about my experience as a racialized prairie queer at the 2018 Y7 summit; hosted dialogues between Edmonton youth and members of parliament; and coordinated the Edmonton Speakers Bureau, a program that focused on youth advocacy.

Which of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals resonates most with you?

SDG 5: Gender equality resonates with me the most because I believe that if this goal is truly attained, all other SDGs have also been attained. Gender is a pervasive, overarching, and internalized bias that I believe one cannot easily disentangle from any of the other SDGs. To me, gender equality is not a “checklist” issue–it’s not adding more gender diversity into classrooms or trades–it is a continual internal process that we must work through every single day. I want to see kindness as revered as strength. I want to see a world that’s less binary, where people are free to embrace all aspects of life regardless of gender identity.

How did you get involved in community development?

We in the Western world have really bought into individualism, but the human species absolutely needs connection and community. I find this is especially true as a queer person. I got into community development after realizing that while a lot of the queer community spaces I existed in were affirming of my sexuality, not a lot of them were affirming of my whole self. As a racialized person, I always felt like I had to compromise aspects of my being in order to feel included or accepted. I started organizing because I guess I was just tired of having to trade away pieces of my self to feel safe. I wanted spaces where I could exist wholly.

What advice do you have for other young adults looking to get involved in sustainable development?
  • The further one removes oneself from power and ego, the more impactful their work will be. Continually work on yourself.
  • Take. Up. Space. Young people, especially “othered” young people, are taught early on to make themselves small. For me, the hardest part of becoming engaged was challenging the norms around me that constantly told me my voice didn’t matter. Your voice is powerful, so use it to make ripples.

“We have a responsibility to the land, to each other, and to ourselves.”

-Juliana Kaneda

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