Shaniya’s dreams of becoming a doctor shattered into pieces when she read the letter “F” on her first high school Biology assignment. She could feel her throat choke but she tried her best to hold back her tears. 

She then quickly hid her assignment inside the back pockets of her binder. After a few attempts of trying to brush her dreams off, Shaniya found the courage to speak with her teacher about the assignment. She requested her teacher to carefully walk her through the assignment, to Shaniya’s surprise, the teacher agreed to her request. This was Shaniya’s moment to shine, but it didn’t work out like that for her. While redoing the assignment,
“Light and Optical System,” which consists of using microscopes to look at reflection of
light and spectrums, Shaniya’s teacher realized that she understood all the concepts correctly; however, Shaniya made errors in recognizing the colours. Shaniya would call a yellow a green, a red a blue, and so on. Her teacher was puzzled when she realized that Shaniya’s main issue was her inability to recognize colours.

So, she encouraged Shaniya to get an eye examination. Shaniya was diagnosed colour blind at the eye doctor. Color blindness is a vision drawback, which makes it difficult to distinguish certain colors, such as blue and yellow or red and green. Shaniya never felt discouraged from her color blindness because she was used to it. She did not miss what she never had. As time passed, Shaniya also regained her confidence in Sciences and started to excelin her other assignments. However, Shaniya’s color blindness started causing problems with her growing interest in photography. Shaniya’s inability to differentiate colours and shades led to many mental blocks. There were many days when her colorblindness led to self-doubt. Although Shaniya struggled to kee pher focus, she eventually decided to make her shortcomings her greatest strength.

She told herself, “I am losing anyways without trying; if I try and fail I will be content enough to know that I failed because I was incapable.” We understand what we are capable of when we pursue our passion outside our comfort zones. Sometimes we limit ourselves and create boundaries thinking about what we are destined to do. But, our capabilities can only shine if we pursue what seems impossible.

Shaniya was diagnosed with colorblindness at the age of 14. Currently, Shaniya is 16 and the top photographer at her school. She is also working on a community project with the Surrey Arts Council, which features women of colour. Shaniya takes full charge of every situation in her life. She embraces her colorblindness and focuses on components that make her pictures unique in terms of emotionality and subtle lighting variations.

Our lives are unique and we all have our own battles to fight, but time waits for no one. We can tell ourselves that there is always another day to solve our problems. However, immediate action is necessary for change to occur. Like Shaniya, we all need to
push through our struggles and stay positive.

Editor’s Note: Shaniya Taizumis the head student photographer for the Canada 150 & Me project, “Our Time”, which includes, essays, poetry, and photography by South Asian young women. Some of her other life challenges include being raised in a single-parent household, enduring western xenophobia about her religion (Muslim), and contracting rabies from a dog bite attack at a veterinarian clinic as a Grade 11 work experience student.
Publication: Sullivan Heights
Press Release, June 1, 2017
Author/Reporter: Kriti Chopra
Photographer(s): Marc Pelech
Theme: South Asian
Culture [South Asian young women’s bi cultural identity]
Venue: N.A.
Featured Youth: ShaniyaTaizum




Ms. Kriti Chopra