The art of catharsis

Alyssa Symons-Bélanger is a self taught artist, activist and facilitator based in wonderful Trois-Pistoles, Quebec. She loves to travel around Canada, to meet people, to share ideas, to make art and to develop tools for social change. Ever since she’s discovered Theatre of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal in 2009, Alyssa has been obsessed with the idea of combining art and activism. Her influences come from her trainings with the Theatre of the Oppressed groups Amani People’s Theatre and Jana Sanskriti. It seemed clear to her when studying with these two theatre groups, that art is a great medium for personal and collective growth. Thus, her life goal is to facilitate workshops that help people build their creative flow. She also strongly believes that everyone be able to have the means to express themselves and that everyone’s story has value. In the last 10 years, Alyssa has been active in different social movements by working hand in hand with local organizations on issues like gentrification, mental health, climate change and youth empowerment. She has also taken a leadership role in the fight against the pipelines and the tar sands in Quebec. Some of her work can be seen in the National Film Board’s documentary Pipelines, Power and Democracy by Olivier D. Asselin. In 2015, Alyssa cofounded a non-profit organization, Le Collectif le Récif, which offers accessible residencies in nature for artists and activists. Alyssa now works on different collective and personal art projects, is doing a masters in psychosociology at the University of Quebec in Rimouski (UQAR), is giving workshops and is raising awareness on the issue of the spread of glyphosate on New Brunswick’s forests.