“Shoes accompany us on all our journeys. They say who we are, where we came from and where we are going.” - Katherine Govier
Over two sold-out shows at artsPlace in June 2017, 12 immigrant and refugee women stood in front of the community they now call home and described the journeys that brought them to the Bow Valley.
It was the Canmore edition of The Shoe Project – a national initiative that aims to amplify the voices of Canadian immigrant women through storytelling. The women told personal stories based on a pair of shoes that had followed them across the globe – from India, Tibet, Nepal, the Philippines, and South Korea to Colombia, Mexico, Czech Republic, Japan, and the Netherlands – exploring the challenges (often language-based) of moving to a new home and culture so far away, and the strength and courage required to overcome them.
Before these captivating shows, Canadian author Marina Endicott led the women through a series of advanced writing workshops, while Banff mezzo-soprano and artsPlace Board member, Nan Hughes Poole, provided voice and public speaking coaching.
The women who participated gained confidence and many new friendships, while attendees garnered a deeper appreciation for the diverse perspectives that newcomers bring to the Bow Valley.
“I have never imagined I could be standing in front of an audience sharing a personal story in English. The Shoe Project has been the most empowering experience in my life.” - Natalia Bussi Rodriguez, Uruguay
This special event was only possible through the work of Maria Gregorish, an artsPlace employee who moved to the Bow Valley from Romania in 2007. After sharing her own story as a Shoe Project participant in 2015, Maria was inspired to bring the initiative to artsPlace. Her tireless efforts in grant writing, event planning, and marketing made the project a huge success.
Since then, two more local editions of the project came to fruition at artsPlace, thanks to the efforts of another program alumnae, Noriko Ohsada.
The 2017 Canmore edition of The Shoe Project was made possible by a grant from the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between Banff Canmore Community Foundation and the Government of Canada, with additional funding from The Shoe Project Canada through the Canadian Civil Liberties Education Trust and the Sonor Foundation.