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StOries Project: Strangers to Ourselves

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The StOries Project: Strangers to Ourselves uses literary writing to examine the lived experience of Canadians to generate new insights into complex and multigenerational migration histories, and contested notions of diversity, race and identity in Canada today.

An interdisciplinary cohort of graduate students are engaged in workshops and individual practice to develop skills in critique and writing, with the aim to produce literary works that explore the complex nuances of living in the in-between spaces.

The StOries Project will culminate with the completion of an anthology of stories and essays that becomes a repository of contemporary Canadian writing representative of the social phenomenon of migration and multiculturalism. Such a collection will add more insights and texture to the rich canon of immigrant writing that already exists in Canada.

A group of 23 participants, either current or recent graduate students from across Canada, were selected as part of a competitive process, to participate in the StOries Project: Strangers to Ourselves. The project was launched in July 2021 and runs until March 2022.

The cohort of aspiring writers, all with a background in graduate studies (and several working subsequently with marginalized populations), participate in a variety of group activities and collective reflection strategies to create their own piece of creative writing.

Using storytelling and personal voice, the participants of the StOries Project produce new forms of knowledge to generate a better understanding of the lived experience of migration. Such alternative forms also have the potential for broad dissemination, making migration stories and issues accessible in non-academic and mainstream contexts.

Delivered in three phases, StOries combines teaching, training, and creative writing:

Phase I (Jul.- Oct. 2021): Weekly meetings are now complete. The training period culminated with a special hybrid workshop session with internationally acclaimed Canadian writer M.G. Vassanji, held on Nov 27, 2021. 

Phase II (Dec. 2021) Final draft submissions.

Phase III (Jan. to Mar. 2022) Preparation of anthology.

The goal of the methodology is to create non-hierarchical, respectful, and safe spaces where difficult conversations among peers may be held. During the first phase, instructor-led and peer-initiated sessions explore a range of migration-related topics, centering on formations and perceptions of the self that emerge from race and ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexuality (and their intersections) in Canada today.

One-to-one mentorship also gives participants the opportunity to hone their craft and explore future directions for writing projects.  Writing prompts and breakout-group conversations help to generate discussions on the personal experiences of belonging, difference and inclusion, and how these themes may be presented in a creative or literary piece.

Phase III (Apr. 2022) Final drafts of stories have been submitted by project participants. Work is ongoing to develop the proposal for the Anthology and sample chapters.    

June 2022

Personal storytelling, lived experience, intersectionality, identity politics, multiculturalism, creative writing

Esra Ari, PhD in Sociology & Migration and Ethnic Relations Studies, Western University

Ozlem Atar, PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies, Queen’s University

Bibi Baksh, PhD Candidate in Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University

Thábata Costa, Master in International Studies, Simon Fraser University 

Natasha Damiano, PhD Candidate in Rehabilitation Sciences, University of British Columbia

Keisha Deoraj, Master’s Candidate in Education, Ontario Tech University

Owen Guo, Master in Global Affairs, University of Toronto

Christian Hui, PhD Candidate in Policy Studies, Toronto Metropolitan University

Brianna Jennings, Master’s Candidate in Social Work, Carleton University

Nabila Kazmi, PhD Candidate in Education Studies, University of Victoria

Arun Kumar Rajavel, Master’s Candidate in Philosophy, University of Victoria

Galina Liou, Master’s Candidate in Arts in Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island

Jenny Osorio, PhD in Secondary Education, University of Alberta

Sarah Ostapchuk, Master in Professional Communication, Toronto Metropolitan University

Sadaf Rezakhan Khajeh, Master’s Candidate in Fine Arts in Documentary Media, Toronto Metropolitan University

Chelsea Richards, Master’s Candidate in Fine Arts in Documentary Media, Toronto Metropolitan University

Negin Sahebavaher, Master in Sociology, University of Calgary

Karen Young, Master’s Candidate in Immigration and Settlement Studies, Toronto Metropolitan University

Melanie Zuzarte, Master in Child and Youth Care, Toronto Metropolitan University