Shoes accompany us on all our journeys. They say who we are, where we come from and where we are going. If ever there was an image of our arrivals and departures, our presences and our absences, it is our own shoes, especially the ones we’ve nearly worn out, or the slippers of a grandmother, or the ducky boots of a child. Arts Health Antigonish, together with its partners, The Shoe Project, ACALA (Antigonish County Adult Literacy Association) and Theatre Antigonish, will spearhead a project whereby a group of immigrant women will tell their stories by way of a pair of shoes. Currently, we are in the midst of gathering a small group of eight to ten women. Through the fall of 2018, Anne Simpson, a local writer and facilitator, will lead weekly writing sessions with this group in the ACALA classroom at the People’s Place Library in Antigonish. Later on, Laura Teasdale, a local actor and playwright, will help participants learn strategies of staging these stories. As well, Liliona Quarmyne, a dancer and choreographer, will choreograph a dance of her own story of coming to Canada from Ghana, and this will be part of the project. In 2019, on February 8th and 9th, The Antigonish Shoe Project will be presented at Theatre Antigonish so the entire community can appreciate the stories of local immigrant women.
The Shoe Project was created by novelist Katherine Govier and incubated at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. Shoe Projects have been mounted in Calgary, Vancouver, Canmore, Halifax, and several other cities. I heard about it, saw a production in Fredericton, and I had the idea that we needed to hear the stories of immigrant women in Antigonish, especially since this is a rural community. What better way to encourage health and wellness through the arts? Telling our stories is how we laugh, cry with, and learn from one another, and, above all, how we let one other into our lives.