Women share their migrating experiences with the help of shoes

November 15, 2017

By Kaitlin Jingco, Canadian Immigrant Magazine |

Twelve women took to the stage at Toronto’s Arts and Letters Club on November 7 and 9 to share their experiences of migrating to Canada. In addition to immigration, the stories had one other shared theme: footwear.

“Shoes accompany us on all our journeys. They say who we are, where we came from and where we are going,” says the website of The Shoe Project (TSP), the organization responsible for putting on the events.

This year’s show, entitled “Where is Peace,” marked the fifth year of TSP productions. It featured women from Iraq, China, Mexico, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Uruguay, and South Sudan, who shared their memories of love, war, betrayal, and hope. Within these stories, flippers, ice cleats and other unique forms of footwear were incorporated.

In preparation for their performances, the 12 women worked with experienced Canadian writers and theatre professionals in workshop settings. Here they improved their spoken and written English, built bonds with immigrant and Canadian-born women, and ultimately, grown personally as new Canadians.

“Writing their shoe memoirs gives members a voice and helps them be heard in the Canadian mainstream,” says the website for TSP, describing the experience of the more than 100 women who’ve participated in the program.

“I have never imagined I could be standing in front of an audience sharing a personal story in English,” says Natalia, a participant from Uruguay. “The Shoe Project has been the most empowering experience in my life.”

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