WELCOME BACK DREAM CHASER'S!!!
I have some exciting news that I can't help but sharing. As some of you may know through my multiple social media channels, I have been working hard on a brand new creative project and have partnered up with Sisterhood Media's co-founder, Samah Ali, to create the documentary portrait series, The Young Migrants Project!
Over the past few months, a lot has happened in regards to this project and I thought the perfect space to share everything would be right here on the Chasing Dreams Worldwide (CDW) Blog. This new portrait series is all about showcasing the overwhelming amount of people in our city who experience immigration either directly or indirectly. With all our different backgrounds and experiences we all share the same story however, in many variations.
Interesting, right? You've missed a few milestones within this project, so let me catch you up quickly...
Who/What is Sisterhood Media? Sisterhood Media is led by two badass females, Samah Ali and Jenny Jay, who are changing the conversation of art one production at a time. They are a production company platforming stories on identity, community growth, and self-actualization through podcasts like The Cancelled and films like hyphen-nation. Sisterhood Media strives to excel the conversation with local, home-grown, Canadian content while raising everyone along the way. Raise while you rise.
How did The Young Migrants Project come about? Sisterhood Media's co-founder, Samah Ali, reached out to me way back in July of 2017. Over a small brunch in the city, Samah expressed her thoughts to me of a creative project idea she'd been playing around with, a project she'd envisioned in the form of documentary photography. Samah's idea was to investigate the lives of immigrant people in the Toronto community who have established roots in Canada due to their family's migration or their own adventures here to this country. All she needed from there was someone to help her execute the photography aspect of the project... and about 100 cups of chai tea later, our baby was born.
In September of 2017, the ball really started rolling at this point. Samah and I applied to a scholarship program named Behind The Dust, a program that provides a platform for female artists of colour to showcase their work, funded by This is Worldtown. The Young Migrants Project was chosen to receive one of the program scholarships and that's where the fun really began.
What is The Young Migrants Project and its participants? The Young Migrants Project is a series of images that includes 1st and 2nd generation immigrants between the ages of 15 - 32 years old who live in the GTA. Our aim is to capture individuals of international migration and the stories of people affected by it. With each participant, we shoot environmental portraits in a location that they feel describes a piece of their history or their families' when coming to Canada the first time. This location would be of sentimental value or bring up a detailed memory of this migration story. This place can be a first apartment, a first job location, a local restaurant, a city park where their family played etc., whatever space that holds value to them and their history.
Along with the location, we shoot each participant with a tangible item of theirs, something that symbolizes back home as well as the change and transition of migration. These can be items like a family photo album, a pair of shoes, a briefcase, a household item etc.
Lastly, with each participant, we conduct a short audio recorded interview. In this interview, the participants speak to us about their stories of migration and how they ended up in the city of Toronto and why they have ultimately stayed. The audio is meant to give the audience greater context surrounding the location and item each individual has chosen and it's meaning to them.
The stories are strangely similar and very relatable no matter where in the world each participant has migrated from.
So even though we all look so different, are we?
In early January, Samah and I sent out a call through our social media platforms asking for participants to volunteer and be a part of our journey in documenting and getting to know our fellow 1st and 2nd generation immigrant community. Without a doubt the support of our people came through.
Emails were flooding into our inboxes and social media direct messaging. So many people we're interested and wanting to be a part of a project where they could share their migration stories with us!!
Through this project, we have had the opportunity to meet so many beautiful faces and get to know their intimate stories and family histories, the reasoning behind who they are and what makes them a residing citizen of this country. We've collaborated with participants of backgrounds from all over the world like Vietnam, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ukraine, India, Nigeria, Lebanon, Kenya and many more to come!
This goes to show Toronto's true diversity. Canada is a country built on immigration and our goal with The Young Migrants project is to show the reality of immigration and its affects on each and every single one of us.
With This is Worldtown, we we're able to feature The Young Migrants project as an intro series in The ARCHV RMX Showcase curated by This is Worldtown this past March (2018). The event was a success and sold out.
Let me tell you again, SOLD OUT. Yes, the community really came through for us. Success.
But don't worry, if you missed ARCHV RMX this time around we will be back and better than ever in a full gallery curated once again by our friends at This is Worldtown in September (2018) and of course, you're all invited!
Thanks again to everyone who came out to our event, The Young Migrants Project is on it's way to making history as we collect stories from within our own community.
Chase your dreams, they're worth it.
Images shot by Aleia Robinson Photography, Taha N. Maharuma and Fonna Seidu