The Stories We Hold: Presented by Passages Canada

We want to hear your stories, Regina!

National storytelling initiative Passages Canada is coming to the Regina Campus of Saskatchewan Polytechnic to collect local stories of  immigration, cultural identity,
and heritage at a series of free workshops

Help us capture the cultural diversity of the city: bring an object or relic that tells a story of your immigration journey, your heritage, or your family’s ancestry. This could be a piece of clothing, a family heirloom, a family photograph, or anything that is meaningful to you.

Your objects and stories will be recorded and added to the Passages Canada online Story Archive, an ever-growing, living archive of Canada’s cultural diversity.

April 25th—27th 2016

Saskatchewan Polytechnic | Regina Campus |

4500 Wascana Parkway, Regina, SK S4P 3A3, Canada



Film Screening & Panel Discussion: Amreeka


Join us for a free screening of the film Amreeka, directed by Cherien Dabis focusing on the trials and tribulations of an immigrant family in small town Illinois. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion exploring topics on multiculturalism, identity, and fostering cross-cultural understanding with Brandon as the backdrop.

The panel will be moderated by Brandon’s own Mayor Rick Chrest, and will feature Brandon University international students, Passages Canada Speaker and Brandon U alumni Segun Olude, and representatives from the Brandon Community.

Doors open from 6:30pm! Complimentary snacks & door prizes from Passages Canada!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium, 205– 20th Street, Brandon, MB

Reel-to-Real Film Festival Opening Night: Belle

Presented by Passages Canada and the Saskatchewan Intercultural Association

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Join us for Reel-to-Real, Saskatoon’s Anti-Racism and Equity Film Festival, with a free screening of Belle.

Explore race, privilege and mixed identities at a post-film chat featuring:

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Moderated by President of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union, Max FineDay


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

7:00 PM Film Screening

9:00 PM Discussion

Broadway Theatre, 715 Broadway Ave, Saskatoon, SK



Complimentary movie snacks and door prizes from Passages Canada!


RSVP on Facebook


Presented by:

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With support from:

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Capturing Fredericton’s Stories at the Passages Canada Workshop

Thank you to all those who came out to Passages Canada’s inaugural Stories We Hold event in Fredericton to share your stories of cultural heritage and identity. 

The room at the Intercultural Centre was brimming with stories and objects, among them letters, books, old photographs, toys and even a 20 peso banknote from the Philippines! We are now working through all the audio, images and written accounts that were captured by our digitization volunteers. In the coming months, the stories will be added to the Passages Canada Story Archive and shared across our social media channels.

You may also want to check out the media coverage of the event over at Global News and CBC (skip to 5:00 min mark).

Here are a few visual highlights. To see more, check out the full blog post over at the Historica Canada blog.

Sally Xi shows a paper cut out that will decorate her home and bring good luck for the upcoming Chinese New Year.

Sally Xi shows a paper cut out that will decorate her home and bring good luck for the upcoming Chinese New Year.

St. Thomas University journalism student, Andrea Barcenas, interviews a participant for the Passages Canada Story Archive.

St. Thomas University journalism student, Andrea Barcenas, interviews a participant for the Passages Canada Story Archive.

Mr. and Mrs. Dietrich from Argentina share their family photographs.

Mr. and Mrs. Dietrich from Argentina share their family photographs.

Passages Canada speaker Saa Andrew Gbongbor shares his story.

Passages Canada speaker Saa Andrew Gbongbor shares his story.

Workshop participants at the Intercultural Centre in Fredericton.

Workshop participants at the Intercultural Centre in Fredericton.


The Stories We Hold: a free storytelling workshop in Fredericton, NB

Presented by Passages Canada and the Multicultural Association of Fredericton

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We want to hear your stories, Fredericton! National storytelling initiative Passages Canada is coming to Fredericton to gather local stories of immigration, cultural identity, and heritage at this FREE workshop.

Help us capture the cultural diversity of Fredericton: bring an object or a photograph that tells a story of your immigration journey, your heritage, or your family’s ancestry. This could be: a ticket stub, a letter, a piece of clothing, currency, a family heirloom, a family photograph, a toy, travel documents, or anything else that is meaningful to you. Nous invitons les francophones à partager leurs histoires en français!

Facilitators from Passages Canada will offer exercises and tips on how to tell a compelling story and improve communications skills. Objects and stories will be recorded so that they can be added to Passages Canada’s Story Archive, a “living archive” of Canada’s diversity.

Complimentary refreshments will be provided.


When: Monday, February 9th, 2015 from 5:30 to 7:45 PM

Where: Fredericton Intercultural Centre, Wellness Centre, 28 Saunders St, Fredericton, NB

Check out full details and RSVP hereRegister as soon as possible—spaces are limited!


Featured Speakers

Saa Andrew with text

Shelley with text











Newcomer women on path to citizenship mark International Women’s Day with unique encounter

Vinita Kinra in AWO Mississauga 2 S

Newcomer women navigating the challenges of isolation and learning English find companionship and support among other women at the Afghan Women’s Organization in Mississauga. These West Asian, predominantly Muslim women are on the path to Canadian citizenship, learning everything from recycling to how government works.

Vinita Kinra in AWO Mississauga S

On Friday, February 28, to kick-start International Women’s Week, this group of 30 newcomer women will hear Indo-Canadian author and Passages Canada speaker Vinita Kinra share her experience of “becoming” a Canadian. Born in Milton, Ontario, Kinra was raised in India. Moving back to Canada as an adult, she also had to adopt a new way of life.  A successful short story writer, Kinra will also read from her work that tackles women’s issues in Afghanistan, hoping to inspire dialogue among these newcomer women.

Vinita Kinra in AWO Mississauga 3 S

Where: Afghan Women’s Organization, 3050 Confederation Parkway, Mississauga, ON

When: Friday February 28th, 12:30 –1:45 PM

A storytelling initiative of Historica Canada, Passages Canada volunteers share their personal accounts of cultural identity and heritage on-line in our multimedia Story Archive and in person with schools and community groups. Since 2002, over 1,000 speakers have created dialogue on Canada’s rich diversity with over 250,000 youth and adults. Passages Canada is generously supported by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and TD Bank Group.

For the past 24 years, the Afghan Women’s Organization has been committed to providing settlement services to newcomers with a special focus on women and those who have experienced wars and persecution.

For more information:

Calina Ellwand, Program Coordinator
t. 1.866.701.1867 ext 392
cellwand [at] HistoricaCanada .ca

Black History Month gets a lively launch in Montreal!


A spirited auditorium of high school students welcomed Passages Canada on February 4th to hear the compelling stories of Montreal’s Black communities.

The students from École secondaire Antoine-de-St-Exupéry in Montreal’s eastern borough of Saint-Léonard are themselves a very diverse group. Our MC, TD Bank regional manager and Senegalese-Canadian Clément Ndiaye, quickly caught on to the students’ pride and had them hooting with glee at the very mention of their countries of origin.


A silence fell over the students as our first performance by modern dance troupe Nyata Nyata began. Their routine involved a lone drummer playing an African-inspired rhythm and two barefooted dancers leaping around the stage with a powerful energy and stern gaze. The piece, Lwaza, “chatting” in the African language of Kikongo, is full of personality and mystery.



The dancers were followed by Filomena Rotiroti, Member of the National Assembly of Quebec and Official Opposition critic for immigration, who introduced the Passages Canada video interview with Michael Farkas.

In the video, Michael speaks of his passion for telling the stories of Black Canadians, stories which he says have been all but forgotten because they were poorly documented. His interest in these stories was sparked by his own experiences. He was adopted and raised by European immigrant parents on Montreal’s South Shore in a multicultural family with siblings from different backgrounds. He became curious about his own roots; he wanted to discover who he was and pass this knowledge on to his own children. Ancestral research brought him to New Brunswick in the 80s and then again in the early 2000s where he learned that his biological parents were among the Black families that settled in the Fredericton area.


After his video played, Michael took to the stage to answer some hard-hitting questions from the students. For instance, they asked why so few Canadians know about the history of slavery in Canada, and about the origins of Black Canadians. Michael had clearly lit a spark.

Marie-Denise Douyon, a Haitian visual artist, was our final speaker. We watched her video, which tells the story of her arbitrary arrest and incarceration in Haiti by the military junta, and her move to Montreal where she sought refuge and regained strength through art, family and friends.


Marie-Denise’s story resonated with the students immediately. They asked Marie-Denise about her art and how she uses it to express her identity. An Algerian student asked about her time spent in his country and what her impressions were.

All in all, this was a great opportunity for Passages Canada to do what we do best. We provided a platform for thought-provoking stories in order to inspire dialogue that we hope these students will continue in the hallways, in the street and out in their communities. Thank you to the kind administration and staff at École Antoine-de-Saint-Exupery for welcoming Historica Canada into their school once again!




Passages Canada heads to Montreal to kick off Black History Month!

Montreal Event Photo

Every year at École secondaire Antoine-de-Saint-Exupéry in Montreal staff and students celebrate Black History Month. This year, on Tuesday February 4th, the Passages Canada team will be joining them in that celebration.

Students will be invited to share their stories of heritage and identity. They will also hear from visual artist Marie-Denise Douyon, a Haitian refugee who sought asylum in Montreal after being arbitrarily arrested by the military junta in power at the time. Prominent community organizer Michael Farkas will share his heritage, traceable back to the Black Loyalists who fled the United States for Canada during the American Revolution. Clément Ndiaye, a regional manager at TD Bank, will describe his experience as a Senegalese immigrant whose first job in Canada was distributing flyers on a street corner.

This event will showcase stories of Montreal’s Black communities through dance, videos and storytelling, so that we all gain a richer understanding of our communities’ roots – where we have come from, and our futures – where we are going.  By sharing these different perspectives, we hope to enhance everyone’s appreciation of the Black Canadian experience and start a conversation that will continue in classrooms, in the hallways, and beyond.

  • What:        Passages Canada celebrates Black History Month with a multimedia showcase highlighting Black experiences in Montreal
  • Who:         Historica Canada, Students from École secondaire Antoine-de-Saint-Exupéry, Passages Canada speakers, community leaders, friends and supporters.
  • Where:     Tuesday, February 4, 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm, École secondaire Antoine-de-Saint-Exupéry, Auditorium, 5150, boulevard Robert, Saint-Léonard, QC

Please RSVP by email to as space is limited.

beCOMING Canada launches in St. John’s

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Passages Canada was in the friendly city of St. John’s, Newfoundland last week launching the digital companion to the storytelling initiative. The beCOMING Canada video series debuted for 80 high school students from St. Bonaventure’s College and Holy Heart High School, as well as the Minister of Education, Clyde Jackman.

The 23 videos showcase Canada’s defining diversity, with stories from refugees arriving from war-torn countries to those of longstanding citizens who can trace their Canadian ancestry back many generations.

St. John’s was a fascinating place to launch the films because Newfoundlanders tend to express a strong sense of place and identity. Our distinguished guests watched the beCOMING Canada interview with Jessica Walsh, a native Newfoundlander, who fondly recalls the tight-knit community of her childhood. Jessica spoke of her surprise when she visited England and discovered her affinity for British culture, which she explained with a quick history lesson. Newfoundlanders only became Canadian citizens when the province joined Confederation in 1949. Her family can recall the bitter debates that divided the province. Confederation passed with a slim 52% majority. Still today, there is a distinct Newfoundland culture that cannot be found anywhere else.

A young student from St. Bonaventure’s took to the podium and corroborated much of what Jessica had said. She talked about the importance of Sunday dinners in her family and her pride at calling herself a Newfoundlander.

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She was followed by an Iraqi student who is new to her school. We soon learned she’s a natural comedian – she had us in stitches with her stories of culture shock which centered on the Canadian high school dating scene!

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These accounts were accompanied by stories from Canadians who have only recently started calling this country home. Azim Lila joined us via Skype from Toronto and took us on his journey of growing up in the small village of Tanga, Tanzania and immigrating to Toronto as a 9 year old.

Students giggled as he recounted his confusion at seeing his teachers handing out gummy worms in class as an incentive. We also felt his challenges as he spoke of how quickly his older sisters had to grow up to help the family get established.

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Passages Canada speaker Remzi Cej, emceed the event and is also a relative newcomer to Canada. Remzi and his family fled conflict in Kosovo and arrived in St. John’s in 2000. He remembers arriving at the airport in St. John’s, which was under construction at the time, and his mother remarking jokingly, “We left one war zone for another!”

The message, that our diversity is our strength, was hit home by the vibrant dance troupe, Bollywood Jig. Led by artistic director and Passages Canada speaker, Sanchita Chakraborty, these young performers have made it their mandate to combine traditional Indian dance with other international styles from Chinese dance to salsa to hip hop to the famous Newfoundland jig!

All these different stories were united by our shared commitment to learn from one another and foster understanding. We are so fortunate to have connected with this unique and vibrant community. To learn more about our video series, check it out!

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