Why MCIS became involved with the Stories of Us workshop

By Sanah Matadar, Social Media Coordinator & Sarah Haque, Board Administration and Communication Coordinator

On Saturday, March 2nd, in collaboration with the Department of Imaginary Affairs (DIA), MCIS Language Solutions will co-host the Stories of Us workshop. The morning event will provide newcomers in the language industry, specifically translators and interpreters, an opportunity to share their personal stories of resettlement in Canada.

The workshop is not simply about sharing stories, but sharing stories the authors’ way, with minimal editing. The immigrant translators and interpreters are the ones framing their stories, and they do not need to be gifted writers to do so, as participants will have the choice to map, draw, or write their stories. With support from MCIS, individuals are encouraged to share their stories in their mother tongues. Stories will then be translated and added to the Stories of Us Online Library.

Why the workshop matters for MCIS

At MCIS, our language aids contribute a great deal to our successes. As such, MCIS is always looking for ways to contribute to their well-being, ensuring our community of interpreters and translators can carry this forward by making a positive and lasting impact on the lives of the newcomer Canadians they aid.

This collaborative workshop, led by the DIA and supported by MCIS, will help share the stories of language professionals in Toronto, strengthening the immigrant narrative, reaffirming their agency as not only as an immigrant voice, but a Canadian citizen’s voice. Moreover, it should serve to build a collection of shared memories, which holds value to the immigrant community of the present, as well as future newcomers, and Canadian-born citizens wishing to educate themselves on what it means to resettle in Canada. MCIS and the DIA are both dedicated to the mobilization of language rights and access to critical information. This workshop contributes to both of these missions.

This event will provide an opportunity for lived experience storytelling, which has significant mental health benefits that can translate into a robust workforce in the language industry. It will help initiate dialogue and transform shared stories into a bigger picture. It will empower and train the participants to share their stories with others, building trust that pieces communities together.

The workshop is also an exciting opportunity to talk about immigrant participation in decision making processes in all levels of civic life. As they share their stories of achievements and struggles, participants will have created a roadmap for activism and point to areas such as housing, education, and healthcare etc. that demand policy shift.

The purpose of the Stories of Us workshop is to “empower newcomers through storytelling.” These individuals will be provided with the necessary resources to successfully complete the workshop, while also working in an accepting and collaborative environment.

To summarize, the DIA’s Stories of Us workshop project has three goals:

1) Empowering newcomers by providing them with an open space to share their stories. Allowing them to do so might help participants feel that, as Canadian citizens, they have a voice.

2) Create resource books from the stories, with side-by-side English and native language translations, which may provide future newcomers with representative material (of their situations), and a sense of belonging

3) Educate established Canadians about newcomer experiences and their journeys through first-person stories

A recent article published by CBC News shows the importance of this last goal. The article highlights immigration, and how we as a country are handling, or rather mishandling it, with many established Canadians misjudging refugee situations as individuals jumping the line for entry and abusing the system. With quotes from immigrants and refugees, the article shines light on the value of stories based on lived experience and the immigrant’s perspective, rather than a story of pure statistics collected by organizations trying to frame the issue in one way or the other.

Not able to attend the workshop? Follow along on our socials, using #StoriesofUs.

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