By Hannah Polinski
Ryerson graduate Maccie Paquette can’t recall consecutive memories from her childhood. Instead, the past comes to her in fragments that she has tried to forget.
Among those fragments is the night her foster father lost control.
He started hurling objects around while screaming at the top of his lungs, grabbing Paquette by the shoulders and smashing her against the wall.
“The actual impact of the hit isn’t the painful part. The painful part is waiting for it, expecting it and knowing it’s going to come,” said Paquette.
Paquette refuses to be a victim of the abuse she suffered. Instead, she has moved forward. Her past and passion for music has inspired her to create an initiative called Living Rights – a video project that combines music written and sung by Paquette with visuals to educate people about the 30 human rights declared by the United Nations.
“I’m happy now that I’m in a position that I can help people,” said Paquette. “I believed that I was being punished for what I deserved. You’re told that it’s your fault so you begin to believe it’s your fault.”
Paquette’s life has been a series of ups and downs. At 16, her life took another turn when her foster family abandoned her.
“I was at my friend’s house and they picked me up with everything I owned packed in their van,” she said. “They left me at my real mother’s and drove away. That was the biggest heartbreak of my life.”
Paquette was taken from her mother when she was one by the Children’s Aid Society under false pretences.
Living with her mother changed everything, opening Paquette up to a new way of living. She decided that she wanted to attend Ryerson for radio and television arts and her mother supported the decision.
In her final year of the program, Paquette was given an assignment that challenged her to face her past and become an instrument of change. In collaboration with her two best friends and a team of seven, she created Living Rights. It proved to be an extremely successful project, representing Canada on the world platform at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights this past September. Her work received a standing ovation.
“It’s crazy. Just this time last year we started to conceive [the project],” said Paquette. “I knew I wanted to do something with music and human rights, but I didn’t know how. The people that I worked with really helped shape that vision.”
Paquette is currently working on releasing an EP and hopes that she can continue to pursue her passion for human rights by promoting change through the arts.
“I want to change the foster care system and be the person to make a difference.”