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Mapping Memories Tour

The Life Stories of Montreal and Mapping Memories are organizing a series of school visits to engage 13-17 year olds around the subjects of migration, belonging, tolerance, cultural identity, and personal resilience. Three young individuals with refugee experience will share their own stories and initiate peer-to-peer discussions intended to build empathy and to encourage students to embrace cultural differences and discover their own family and community histories. Scroll down to see our schedule and to read the blog updates!

Participating schools will receive a copy of the book/DVD, MappingMemories: Participatory Media, Place-Based Stories & Refugee Youth, for their school libraries.

Our Fall Schedule:
September 29th École Internationale
October 3rd ATEQ Pedagogical Day
October 12th Mapping Memories Launch, Concordia University
October 14th Dawson Pedagogical Day
October 20th McGill University, Department of Education
October 24th Fall Fare ELA Conference, Montreal (Liz, Michele)
October 25th CURA Education Panel, Concordia University
November 27th Holocaust Center of Montreal (Liz, Michele)
November 1st Provincial Advisory Council of Teachers of English
November 3rd Holocaust Museum, Ayanda presents
November 4th Lauren Hill Academy
November 7th McGill University, Department of Education
November 8th, Heritage School
November 9th, International School
November 10th - CTV interview
November 17th - PACC Adult Center, Lester B. Pearson
November 25th Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers
November 26th Canadian Council of Refugees Conference - 2.5 hour workshop
December 2nd UQAM, Departement de l’éducation
December 13th - Charlemagne Academy, Pierrefonds

Winter Schedule:
January 27th - YMCA, Toronto
February 6th - Beurling High School
February 20th - Marymount Academy
February 23rd - Royal West Academy
February 24th - Westwood High School
March 5th - CCR Webinar
March 15th - John Rennie High School
March 20th - French Book Launch
March 22nd - Riverdale High School
March 25th - Leontine presents at Holocaust Museum

Mapping Memories Tour Blog


Visit to Kamp Kanawana

Ayanda Dube - otherwise know as AK - brought our team to speak to the leadership in training program at Kamp Kanawana. Check out the short video!


Gracia Jalea Dyer takes students to Centre Histoire

This May I led a group of foreign exchange students from Germany, Austria, and Mexico on a tour of the Montreal Life Stories’ Nous Sommes Ici exhibition at the Centre d’histoire de Montréal. The students are currently taking a class on Montréal Arts and Culture at John Abbott College and were invited by their teacher Katie Green to visit the exhibit. After an introduction to the exhibit and the Life Stories project the students were given a list of questions to consider as they visited the space.

The questions were as follows:
1) What is a refugee? Who is a refugee?
2) What is the difference between a refugee and an immigrant?
3) How much do you know about your family history? Who taught you this history?
4) How does your family’s history influence who you are as a person?
5) What makes a city feel like home?
6) If your city was a person, how would you describe its personality?
7) What are misconceptions that people have of your home country or city? What would you do to change people’s misconceptions?

As they moved through the exhibit I was struck at how interested and engaged the students were with the life story interviews that they saw. In addition to gaining a greater understanding of Montréal, its history, and the personal life stories of Montréalers featured in the exhibit, the students also reflected upon their own personal family histories and the impact that the arrival of immigrants and refugees have had in their home countries. Over the course of the day they shared stories from their own family histories, and a few of the students expressed a concern for a growing resistance against refugees and immigrants in their home countries, particularly in light of the current economic crisis in Europe. Many of the German students, who have studied the Holocaust extensively as part of their education, not only in history class, but in literature, religion, art and in many other subjects as well, said that they knew the dangers that such sentiments could lead to. It was their hope that such attitudes, steeped in racism, would change. They were also confident that many young people, such as themselves, do not share this position, and that in time, through education, these views will cease to exist.
It was a very powerful experience to see the students taking what they saw and heard in the exhibit and use it as a starting off point for discussions on such topics such as – racism, refugee rights, immigration, nationalism, citizenship, diversity, multiculturalism, generational differences, and the importance of knowing one’s family history. I can only imagine that this dialogue and exchange is what the curators imagined when designing the exhibit.
All in all the discussion was rich and the exchange of ideas was meaningful, not only for the students, but for me as well. I learnt a great deal from them and was extremely grateful for their willingness to be open and to share their personal experiences, observations and opinions with me and with the whole group.

- Gracia Dyer Jalea


PACC Visit Adult Center Visit

On November 17th, Leontine and Ayanda spoke at PACC Adult Center, part of the Lester B. Pearson School Board. Many of the students in the audience had come to Montreal as immigrants or refugees themselves. The group seemed to identify with Ayanda's story as they were new arrivals in Canada, and were very moved by Leontine's story:

"I was very much touched with the stories from both individuals. I can definitely relate to their stories in another way. I came here as a refugee myself; my country is not a refugee country. But I was abused by my ex-husband and that caused me to run and seek refuge here in Canada. Both individuals need to be strong; especially the second individual (Leontine). God will see her through."

"Thank you for the information about refugees and immigration and thank you for the information that you shared about your lives. I’m really sad about the people who don’t like refugee people and I would like to take those people to the refugees’ countries and show them the problems. Also, I would like to teach them that refugees also have lives."

"Leontine, I love how you kept on fighting. Your courage to keep on fighting gives me courage. May God continue to bless you."

"It was sad to know the stories about these two people. But, it’s great that you are living your life. Thank you. You are brave people. Good luck!"

"Well, I’m coming from Greece because I’m tired to pay and pay and receive nothing even when I’ve go the choice to vote. My vote didn’t make any change at all. So, I relocated myself for my future. I want one day to stop the Greek government from stealing everything from Greek citizens."

"I come from Eritrea, which is located in East Africa. I wonder if you ever google my country’s history? There are a lot of obstacles there. Even at this moment, the government is being very abusive to its people. So, if you can find anyone who is from Eritrea (Asmara) and they can share their story—it could give more progress to change the government’s attitude. But, regarding your two stories, I personally got more ideas of being a better person. To achieve your goal is possible whenever you start living for tomorrow. Then you live like there is no tomorrow. You, the lady, you are very brave. Live for tomorrow. Forgive and forget, for there is something special out there for you. I am proud of you! You guys are very inspiring! Love, Linton."

"Leontine-I love how you fought and keep fighting. I really admire you for accepting your new family and helping each other. I am proud of you telling your story. I know how hard it must be for you. As Africans, we have the same past in stories. I would like your project to continue! Helen from Eritrea."

"I come from Ethiopia which is located on the coast of Africa. Leontine, you are a very educated and beautiful woman. Thank you very much for sharing your story and about your country."

"Leontine: Do you still want to go back to your country? Ayanda: if you were given a chance to choose another country than Canada, what would it be? why? I’m so proud of your guys! Keep it up!"

"I think the first presentation was well organized. Ayanda was sharing his experience with us and he is a patient person that had to wait for nine years! The second presentation was well presented. It is hard to live alone in a new country Leontine is a very brave person—and she should continue!! One thing I would like to change is that the Canadian government should help refugees to find them proper jobs."

"I’m from Morocco. I am an immigrant. What can I do to help reguees? What kind of contribution can I make?"

"I am from Cameroon, found in Africa. The presentation that I heard today really helped me, and I think it helped the other students too. It helped me to know what happened to other people. It helped me to know more about politics in other countries in Africa. In my country, the president ruled for 35 years and he is still the president of Cameroon today."

"Thanks Leontine for the possibility to discuss this important problem. Would you include, in your next project, a story about a refugee from Azerbajan. It is a country near the Caspian Sean and it had 500,000 refugees in 1990-1992. Now Azerbajan authorities chose a people from another ethnic group, which lives in the region!"

"Hi Leontine, you are incredible. I was watching you when the credits were rolling and you were smiling the whole time. I am very grateful to hear your story. If you could come out of that! I hope everyone watches and learns from you. I often complain about the life I had back in Ghana and my life here in Canada. Watching your story made me change the way I see things. Thank you for opening my eyes. You are brave for all women."

"This is about my life in the past. I am from Afghanistan. I was young, 9 or 10 years, old when we left our country and moved to Pakistan. We stayed there for many years, then, fortunately, we found a chance to come to Canada. I don’t remember much about my past, but I have heard from my parents that they had a very difficult life. Now, when I have time, I search on the Internet. When I watch the war movies, it makes me feel really hopeless and I say thank God I am safe here in Canada. I am sad because I left my own country, but I feel it is better here in Canada. Forget the things which make you sad. But, never forget the things which make you glad."


Royal West Academy Visit

On Thursday, February 23rd we visited Royal West Academy where Stephanie and Leontine spoke to the all the Secondary II students (grade 8), despite a fire drill just before we were supposed to start. They asked a lot of questions, especially about the Rwandan genocide. Here is what some of the students had to say:

• "...I learnt that we should be proud of culture and should learn and cherish it. I also learned that refugees as well as immigrants have a hard difficult life; they have to struggle to survive unlike others who are born into a good family. Even though they lost so much they never gave up hope, which is such an inspiration to me. "

• "I learned a lot about the Rwanda genocide and how much it affected people’s lives, even if it was before their time. I learned how had it was to cope as a refugee, how sometimes you don’t have a choice. I learned that there is a lot of inequality in the world, and that everyone has a different story to tell, whether happy, sad, or both. The fact that the presenters had been part of the genocide made me realize the extent of the damage and how it affected people’s identities."

• "First, I’d like to say that I loved the presentation. I found it eye-opening and inspiring. I found the personal stories interesting and moving. I have always been interested in stories of refugees and escaping difficult situations, now knowing my father, who came from Haïti, and had already heard many and read them, yet I find that each story is inspiring and hearing stories in person too, makes me even more thankful for what I had. Thank you so much!"

• "Rebecca said that she made a video with her grandmother, making a dish with her. It inspired me to make a video with anyone from my family who is an immigrant..."

• "The videos were touching, because I can relate. My father was once a refugee from Romania. The presentation made me understand how difficult it must be to be an immigrant/refugee. It is very hard to relocate, and have to rebuild your life completely. The entire presentation really touched me."

• "I thought that the presentation was very touching and makes us realize how lucky we are to live somewhere where people are accepting. The presentations showed me how tolerance is not a given, not everyone is as lucky as we are. The stories were interesting because their childhood was so vastly different compared to the one you get in Montreal. I’m thankful to live in a place so safe that people come here to escape their situations."

• "...What I thought was meaningful was that Stephanie and Leontine were able to have a family despite having lost their actual families back where they come from. Another thing is that they were able to overcome the hardships of losing their family."

• "...It was really special that the real people were there and told us their stories and answered questions instead of just a video. Thanks so much for the time and effort in this presentation."

Thank you so much to Mrs. Cukier for her help in organizing the event!


Marymount Academy, February 21st, 2012

We had our biggest event thus far at Marymount Academy in NDG, speaking to over 250 students who crowded into the cafeteria to hear Ayanda and Stephanie tell their stories. A big thank you to Maya Doughan for organizing the event!

Here is what some of the students had to say:

"This was a great presentation. I actually learnt a lot about refugees and I will now try to learn about my own culture. Thank you for taking the time to teach us this important lesson."

"It was something I was unaware of and the videos showed depth of what each person went through. I have learned a lot from the speaker’s experiences."

"It was eye-opening to hear it live from refugees themselves! THANK YOU"

"Great presentation! You’ve shown us how to be proud of our culture!"

"Thank you for coming to Marymount! Peace & Love"


Beurling High School Visit

We are back in full swing after the holidays! On Monday, February 6th, Ayanda and Leontine did a presentation for 150 15-16 year old students in the school auditorium at Beurling High School in Verdun. Special thanks to Matrona Mavarakis of the LBPSB for her help organizing the event and to Principal David Abracen for the warm welcome. This is the first of several visits we will be doing with the LBPSB this term.


YMCA of Toronto

On Jan. 27th, Michele Luchs and Liz Miller gave a workshop in Toronto on digital storytelling to 51 YMCA staff who work directly with refugees.


Students at Héritage High School respond to Youth Speaking Tour

Our third school visit was at Héritage High School on the south shore of Montreal, a regional school with over 1500 students. One hundred and twenty five 15-16 year olds came to our presentation in the school's library. 

Ayanda did a fantastic job. He is an excellent speaker--and students were completely engaged. They were  moved by his story and really appreciated having the chance to ask him questions afterwards. Ayanda did a great job of contextualizing his story as well--and gave some history about the political situation in Zimbabwe then and now. We asked that students respond to the presentation. Their reactions definitely reinforced our belief that this format is really working to open the eyes of young Quebecers:

"...I’ve learned what a refugee is. Until this day I didn’t even know what the word meant. This experience has opened my eyes to things that are happening around the world that I never even imagined. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been for Ayanda to manage to find his way to the YMCA in the middle of the night, all by himself, in a new world. Thank you for this experience."

"I had no idea being a refugee was so difficult. I could never imagine not being able to see my family for 10 years, or not being able to meet my first nephew. This was definitely opened my eyes and I hope to get the chance to meet a refugee and welcome them as much as possible—and talk to them about their story---Ayanda you are truly inspiring and I wish you happiness in Canada. I also hope you reunite with your family sometime soon."

"I think this was an awesome experience that I will cherish very much. Tonight, I will tell Ayanda’s story to my family."

"This workshop informed us that refugees are people just like us who want a better future for themselves. Every story is interesting and by just looking at somebody you can never really know them  or the story they have to tell."


Lauren Hill Visit

Our Lauren Hill visit was a great success. We had over 100 students and Debra Arbec of CBC came to cover the event. One student asked Ayanda, " When you are not busy being an author what else do you do?" And several students commented "I wish he was our teacher" as they filed out of Andrew's classroom.


Dawson invites Mapping Memories to Pedagogy Day, Oct.14, 2011

Michele Luchs and Liz Miller presented Mapping Memories at Dawson as a part of Pedagogical Day. In addition to discussing the resources in the book we asked teachers to share examples of how they are using storytelling in their classrooms.

A few teachers commented on the power of using stories to engage students. We had several social work teachers in the room who are excited to integrate the resources into their classrooms.