‘Inspiring and powerful’: Calgary performance shares stories of female immigrants

A group of 10 women who immigrated from a variety of countries around the world will be sharing their stories about the paths their lives took when they decided to come to Calgary.

The Shoe Project, put on by Calgary’s High Performance Rodeo, is the culmination of a 10-week-long workshop where women from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, India, Iran, Syria, Mexico, China, Nigeria and the Philippines wrote stories of their journey.

The stories are based on a pair of shoes, which is an important symbol, the organization says.

“Shoes accompany us on all our journeys,” the High Performance Rodeo wrote on its website.

“They say who we are, where we came from and where we are going. Writing and performing their shoe memoirs allows members to be heard in the Canadian mainstream.”

One of the performers in this year’s version of The Shoe Project is Sheila Qayumi, who recently left Afghanistan.

Qayumi was an activist and made the decision to flee the country, leaving some of her family members behind.

“The women’s stories are inspiring and powerful,” said Aya Mhana, coordinator and an alumna of The Shoe Project, in a release.

“The courage they demonstrate in overcoming obstacles to creating new lives is particularly pertinent in the context of the challenges we have all faced in the last two years of a global pandemic.”

Some of the women involved in the performance were taught English through the services The Shoe Project provided and all of them were coached in writing by authors Barb Howard and Kirti Bhadresa and voice-coached by Denise Clarke.

The Shoe Project was created by novelist Katherine Glover and has been performed in Calgary since 2006.

For more information on tickets and other shows that are part of this year’s High Performance Rodeo, visit the official website.

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