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The Shoe Project Antigonish: Immigrant Women Tell Their Stories

The Shoe Project Antigonish
Immigrant Women Tell Their Stories

Press Release      Antigonish—January 16, 2019

Something amazing is afoot in Antigonish! Immigrant women are telling their stories and letting us walk a mile in their shoes. This group of women, led by Anne Simpson and Laura Teasdale, are joining in a movement that is sweeping across Canada, called The Shoe Project. But what is it?

Initiated by novelist Katherine Govier, the Shoe Project began in Toronto as a way to assist immigrant women in telling their stories. It started with Katherine facilitating ten-week writing workshops followed by a drama expert organizing and leading the women in a performance at the Bata Shoe Museum. Since then, immigrant women across Canada – from Vancouver to Halifax – have been involved in Shoe Projects in their communities, with professional writers and drama specialists helping to bring the stories to the stage.

The Shoe Project Antigonish, funded by the Shoe Project and Nova Scotia’s Culture Innovation Fund, marks the first time the project has been offered in a small, rural community, yet immigrant women have inspiring stories to tell here, too. Locally sponsored by Arts Health Antigonish, in partnership with Theatre Antigonish and Antigonish County Adult Learning Association, The Shoe Project Antigonish began with a small group of women who came together for writing workshops with Simpson throughout the fall of 2018 and it will culminate in a performance at the Bauer Theatre on February 8 & 9, 2019.

When asked about the impact of the project, local coordinator and writing facilitator Simpson says, “When I went to see the Shoe Project performance in Fredericton last spring, I watched, entranced, as the women told their stories. I knew it could be done in Antigonish. It has been great: AHA! has been a wonderful sponsor and ACALA has been supportive from the beginning. We also have a theatre that brings really good community projects to the stage—Theatre Antigonish. Most of all, at the heart of this project is a group of women who wanted to explore their own stories. They’ve told me they don’t want it to end.”

It was not easy to find people brave enough to want to write and present their stories in front of an audience, but with much help from Jyotsna Jain at ACALA, a perfect group was formed. Diverse in age, experience, and native land, they were united in their trust of Simpson, a writer herself. Together they explored their voice and style of writing, while having fun and really supporting each other. The resulting stories to be presented on the Theatre Antigonish stage are touching, wise, funny and smart. Their immigration is a central theme, and each chose a pair of shoes as a jumping off point in their writing, but that is where the similarities end. The narratives are as diverse as this group of women.

To highlight the stories of these fascinating women, Laura Teasdale was brought on board as a theatre consultant. She was tasked with putting the stories together in a creative way and coaching the participants in feeling comfortable on stage and allowing their personality to shine through. Thanks to partners at Theatre Antigonish, the show will be a visual feast as well.

Andrea Boyd, Artistic Director for Theatre Antigonish says, “We are so happy to be able to include The Shoe Project in this year’s Theatre Antigonish season. This project is a powerful symbol of what community theatre is all about, and it is also a wonderful chance to celebrate and embrace our rich diversity. When Anne brought this project to our attention, I knew right away that it would be the perfect fit for us. I cannot wait to watch the show and hear all the stories by these amazing women. The show is being presented free of charge, so I hope we have a packed theatre. Come early to get your seat – It will be worth it!”

Teasdale adds, “The women range in age from 25 to 75 and hail from India, South Korea, Germany, Spain, Vietnam, the Philippines, and the Netherlands. These eight women have a unique perspective on life in Canada and why they love to call it home.” The participants are Karen Bissonnette, Renée Romero Brown, Willie Duykers, Almudena Garcia-Garcia, Anu Joshi, Jyotsna Jain, Soo Kyeong Lee, and Yen Ngoc Nguyen. And as a special treat, Simpson also engaged dancer and choreographer Liliona Quarmyne, whose dance will be her way of telling her own story of immigration from Ghana.

Yen Ngoc Nguyen, one of the participants, points out, “The project has given me an opportunity to pause, look back and re-think my whole journey to Canada. It serves as a point of reflection, enabling me to appreciate more of my effort, my growth, and my appreciation for the beauty of living in this country. I treasure the time I spent with other immigrants in this project as it has widened my understanding and perspective.”

The Shoe Project Antigonish takes place on Friday, February 8 and Saturday, February 9 at 7:30 pm at the Bauer Theatre. Admission is free. The line up will begin at 6:30, doors open at 7. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis. For information call (902) 867-3333 or email


Expressive Arts Therapist Position

Expressive Arts Therapist

Supported by Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!)

AHA! is seeking an Expressive Arts Therapist for a one year pilot. This position would be part of an Arts & Health team along with a Music Therapist. The Expressive Arts Therapist would provide individual and group support in both hospital and community settings in the Antigonish area.

  • Start date – anytime between August 1st and September 1st 2015
  • Part-time term: 7 hours per day, 4 days per week, for one year
  • 2 days per week in St. Martha’s Regional Hospital
  • 2 days per week in community
  • Successful candidate would be required to submit brief weekly reports to the AHA! steering team as part of an evaluation

If interested, we ask that you please submit your resume and a written Expression of Interest by July 3rd, 2015 to




Mindfulness in Art and Health Workshop Announcement

Jerry Granelli

Jerry Granelli

Greetings from Arts Health Antigonish!

AHA! and ASAP are delighted to announce that we will be hosting a weekend workshop on October 24-27 entitled “Mindfulness in Art and Health”,  featuring  jazz musician Jerry Granelli. This will include a public talk on the 24th, with workshops throughout the weekend. We would love for you to be involved.




The following video shows how Jerry connects music and mindfulness training:

Please consider setting aside time for this exciting opportunity. If you or your organization would like more information on how you can participate in this community event contact:

John Graham-Pole <>   902 863-0396

Wendell White <> 902 386-2722

Stay tuned for more details!

AHA! Video Launch

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Join us in watching the

Play To Be Well video

A Story of Art & Health in Antigonish

& the ‘Play Along’ music video


Friday, September 5th
5:00- 6:00 pm

The People’s Place Library


AHA Video Launch 2 public – Download Flyer

Global Arts and Health Month in November

November Global Arts & Health Month

Arts Health Antigonish! (AHA!) is excited to be participating in Global Arts and Health Month in November. Throughout the month, Antigonish will enjoy a proliferation of arts-health activities in the community – in schools, community centres, hospitals, nursing homes and the library. Posters around town have been created for AHA! by local artist, Fenn Martin. AHA! is a Sustainable Antigonish collaboration between the arts community and GASHA Public Health, an energetic group that have been gaining momentum over the past 9 months.

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AHA! and GASHA (St Martha’s site) are delighted to announce that during November, Tom Curry, music therapist will be the AHA! artist in residence at St. Martha’s Hospital. Tom holds a Certificate In Music Therapy from Acadia, a Diploma in Jazz Studies and a Bachelor of Arts with Major in Music from St. F.X.. Tom completed his internship under Peter Mutch at Catholic Family Services, Charlottetown, working with adults with intellectual disabilities, youth with autism and troubled youth. Following his internship, he worked for Heartsparkes Music Therapy with Homebridge Youth Society, individuals with autism and muscular dystrophy.

Noella Murphy will also be on site at St Martha’s Hospital as the Arthur Rivoire emerging artist in residence, under the mentorship of Dr John Graham-Pole. Noella is a local actress and artist interested in pursuing drama therapy. John Graham-Pole, MD, MRCP-UK, is Professor Emeritus, Paediatric Oncology & Palliative Care, University of Florida. He co-founded and co-directed University of Florida’s Center for Arts Health Research & Education and received the 2012 Global Alliance for Art & Health’s Outstanding Leadership award. He has published/edited six books and about 250 peer-reviewed papers and chapters. His current research centres on art for healing and palliative care. Funding for this position was donated to AHA! in memory of Arthur Rivoire, by the Old Barn Gallery and Aphrodite, and raised through a recent fundraiser.

In addition to artists in residence at St Martha’s, there will be several fun and participatory art-health playshops throughout November. Those at the RK MacDonald Nursing Home will be hosted by Mary Partridge in horticulture therapy, and will invite community guests, such as L’Arche, Highland Crest, the Children’s Place and several others, to join them in their ventures. Community youth and family playshops in Lakevale, hosted by Nancy Turniawan, art teacher and Rebecca Wild, musician and teacher, will encourage community building through the arts. The popular AHA! Thundertales, which fosters youth creativity through storytelling, will host their parents in a storytelling playshop. Adele MacFarlane, artist and teacher, will host several school playshops; the Sisters of St Martha will enjoy a music playshop facilitated by Tom Curry; GASHA Mental Health Services will also be participating in a playshop.

Playshops for everyone in the Antigonish community will be held at the People’s Place Library in collaboration with Health Connections. On November 8th, join John Graham –Pole and Wendell White in explorations with words and music; on November 22, Mary Partridge and RK and ACALA guests will facilitate discovering the joys of horticulture therapy; and on November 25th, Denise Davies and Wendell White will host a video-making playshop. All are welcome and encouraged to join in playing with AHA!.

On November 21st, AHA! will host a showing of the film, A Year at Sherbrooke, in the Community Room at the library, with a facilitated panel discussion of the role of the arts in long term care facilities. Please join us in this important discussion! AHA! and Thundertales will also be participating in open mike night at the library on November 15th, 6:30-8:30 – all are welcome!

AHA! is hoping the community will engage in numerous creative endeavors throughout November in recognizing the value of creativity in individual and  community health. We are most grateful to our many supporters in making these events possible. In the words of Dr. John Graham-Pole, “Art taps, for each of us, whatever our circumstances, a deep well of physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  It is indispensable to our lives and to our total health.”

For specific details during November 2013 please go to our AHA! Calendar Page





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