Global Migration Podcast: Season 2

Season 2, entitled “Geographies of the Heart: Life-writing from Newcomers to Canada” is hosted by international speaker and award-winning advocate, Mohammed Alsaleh. This season is born out of a year-long writing project, “Stories from Newcomers to Canada,” with a group of newcomers who have been authoring their own stories of migration on topics such as love, loss, displacement, exile, belonging and disruption. Bringing together a diverse array of newcomer voices, each episode shares compelling, first-hand experiences of coming to and living in Canada. Most importantly, this series creates a space in which newcomers can share their experiences and perspectives with policymakers, academics, and the media. Season 2 of the series ran from February 2021 to April 2021.

In the first episode of the second season of the Global Migration podcast “Geographies from the Heart: Life-writing from Newcomers to Canada,” host Mohammed Alsaleh speaks to Dr. Amea Wilbur (University of the Fraser Valley), Raymonde Tickner, and Zahida Rahemtulla. They discuss the power of migration stories and the impact of multiple narratives that emerged through a year-long writing project with newcomers to Canada. Raymonde, Zahida and Amea discuss how life writing can inform teaching and learning and provide a context for trauma-informed practice. They also touch on the power of mentorship, as an educational framework, to support embarking on life-writing projects.  In the upcoming episodes this season, you will hear from several of the writers involved in the project about their own experiences. This will provide a brief reflection into the uniqueness, overlapping and diverse stories of newcomers to Canada. For more information about the book project please visit the website here. To support the project please visit the project’s GoFundMe page here. This podcast was recorded on Zoom on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people. Amea Wilbur is an Assistant Professor at the University of the Fraser Valley. She received an Ed.D. from the University of British Columbia in 2015. In 2017, she received the AMSSA Award for her work with marginalized populations and for innovative programming that supports diversity and promotes integration. She also received the Gordon Selman Award for contributions to the understanding of the social and historical foundations of Adult Education in Canada. She is an outside collaborator with the UBC Centre for Migration. Raymonde Tickner was a long-term member of the Faculty of Access and Continuing Education at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, BC, Canada. She specialized in teaching English as an additional language. She is an experienced instructor with expertise in curriculum design and faculty professional development applying insight and sensitivity to her work in India, Australia, China, the USA and the United Arab Emirates. Raymonde is active in the Abbotsford Restorative Justice and Advocacy Association as a victim/offender conference facilitator and as a board member. Zahida Rahemtulla is an emerging writer of fiction and theatre. Her plays, The Wrong Bashir and The Frontliners are currently in development in Vancouver. She has worked in Vancouver’s immigrant and refugee non-profit sector for several years in the areas of housing, employment, and literacy and is currently completing an MA in Literature at the University of Toronto.

In the second episode of the Global Migration podcast “Geographies from the Heart: Life-writing from Newcomers to Canada,” host Mohammed Alsaleh speaks to acclaimed Kurdish-Canadian and recently published (2020) novelist, Ava Homa and Kurdish journalist, Shanga Karim who join us to share their experiences as newcomer women writers. Shanga came to Canada as a refugee claimant from Kurdistan in 2015, where she was a journalist and women’s rights activist. Shanga is currently writing a chapter about her experience in the Stories from Newcomers to Canada book, and author Ava Homa joined the SNtC life-writing project as a guest speaker supporting other new writers. As well as exploring the complexities of minority representation in their work, the two also explore the forms and importance of newcomers mentoring other newcomers in the field of writing, life-writing, and literature. For more information about the book project please visit the website here. To support the project please visit the project’s GoFundMe page here. This podcast was recorded on Zoom on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people. Ava Homa, critically-acclaimed author of Daughters of Smoke and Fire (HarperCollins, 2020), is an activist and a journalist. She holds an MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Windsor. Her collection of short stories, Echoes from the Other Land, was nominated for the Frank O’Connor International Prize, and she is the inaugural recipient of the PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-In-Exile Scholarship. You can connect with her at www.AvaHoma.com. Shanga Karim was a journalist and women’s activist in Kurdistan where she worked in the humanitarian sector as she focused on violence against women, honor killing, and female genital mutilation. She holds a B.A in Media Studies and she is studying English at UFV to continue her education after coming to Canada in 2015. Shanga is a Vancouver local coordinator for the Shoe project (https://theshoeproject.online/about-the-shoe-project). She has a passion for writing and writes stories for other websites, and one of her stories has been selected as the best to be published by The Vancouver Writers Fest. She currently participating in the Global Writing Project book “Stories from Newcomers” by writing her chapter which will be published Fall 2021.

In the third episode of the Global Migration podcast “Geographies from the Heart: Life-writing from Newcomers to Canada,” host Mohammed Alsaleh speaks to Muhialdin Nyera Bakini and Albino Nyuol who share their stories of exile from South Sudan. Albino will share his journey as a child soldier to a settlement worker here in Canada. Muhialdin will speak of his journey as an asylum seeker from Sudan to Israel and then eventually to Canada as a student at UBC. For more information about the book project please visit the website here. To support the project please visit the project’s GoFundMe page here. This podcast was recorded on Zoom on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people. Muhialdin Nyera Bakini completed a BA in Political Science and TESL from the University of Fraser Valley, with distinction, in 2018, while also working as Life Insurance Agent for the World Financial Group. After graduating, he joined the Universal Learning Institute in Coquitlam, British Columbia, as an ESL Instructor. In 2019, Muhialdin was accepted into the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs (MPPGA) program at UBC. Currently, Muhialdin is looking forward to taking full advantage of the MPPGA program to shape his career path for local and global change as a policy analyst, with a particular interest in resource governance, energy, and human security. Albino Nyuol migrated to Canada in 2002 from South Sudan. Currently he works as a Settlement Worker with more than 11 years experience at Archway Community Services. The organization provides a variety of services, activities, and educational information in a non-judgmental and safe space to support clients. Albinp helps newcomers to Canada understand their rights and responsibilities and find the programs and services they need. He provides referral services, guidance, support and information, and assists clients with specific settlement needs in order to settle in the province. Albino graduated in 2016 in Social Work from the University of the Fraser Valley. He is married and has two children. He joined SNTC last year in order to tell his refugee story.

In the fourth episode of the Global Migration podcast “Geographies from the Heart: Life-writing from Newcomers to Canada,” host Mohammed Alsaleh speaks to journalists Diary Xalid Marif, from Iraqi Kurdistan, and Akberet Beyene, an exiled Eritrean journalist, who speak of the escape from their homes and the struggle to be heard. To support the project please visit the project’s GoFundMe page here. This podcast was recorded on Zoom on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people. Diary Xalid Marif is an Iraqi Kurdish journalist. He has a Master’s degree in History from Pune University in India. He worked with a TV channel in his home country as a documentary researcher. He later moved to Vancouver, Canada in 2017 and he has been writing nonfiction in English. He joined SNtC given that he wants people to know about his stories and interact with Canadian writers. You can follow him on Twitter @diary_khalid. Akberet Beyene was a journalist for the national Eritrean television station. She researched and disseminated stories for both print and television that largely centered on sociopolitical events and human rights. As a result of the suppression of media and the accompanying arrest of journalists in Eritrea, she fled to Canada in 2011 where she has been living ever since, working as a caregiver.

In the fifth episode of the Global Migration podcast “Geographies from the Heart: Life-writing from Newcomers to Canada,” host Mohammed Alsaleh speaks to Malena Mokhovikova who shares her family’s journey leaving Russia as asylum seekers. In 2012, Malena, with her mother and younger sister, stepped off a cruise ship temporarily docked in Quebec City and decided to claim asylum in Canada. They knew no one and spoke no English. However, the racially motivated attacks on the family’s Jewish and Afghan heritage in Russia were becoming too dangerous. Malena speaks of their journey to Canada, experiences of settling, family separation, and starting over in this touching episode of one family’s brave story. To support the project please visit the project’s GoFundMe page here. This podcast was recorded on Zoom on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people. Malena Mokhovikova came to Vancouver as a refugee from St. Petersburg, Russia in 2012 with her family as a result of racism and discrimination. She studies psychology at Douglas College and loves to write, draw and hike in her free time. She is an advocate for mental health destigmatization and works towards one day becoming a clinician and supporting others overcoming trauma. She hopes her story will connect with those struggling with immigration identity crisis and finding “home.”

In the sixth episode of the Global Migration podcast “Geographies from the Heart: Life-writing from Newcomers to Canada,” host Mohammed Alsaleh speaks to Camille McMillan-Rambharat, from Trinidad and Tobago, who combines her unique Afro-Caribbean heritage with the stories learnt from her grandmother and father and her marriage to an Indo-Caribbean Member of Parliament. Camille is a mother and has fought battles with racism here in Canada. She continues to stand tall and stand proud. To support the project please visit the project’s GoFundMe page here. This podcast was recorded on Zoom on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people. Camille McMillan-Rambharat 

In the seventh episode of the Global Migration podcast “Geographies from the Heart: Life-writing from Newcomers to Canada,” host Mohammed Alsaleh speaks to Nuria Sefchovich from Mexico. Nuria shares her experience as a mature international student and of learning to navigate a system that determines her identity based on the social construction of immigration. To support the project please visit the project’s GoFundMe page here. This podcast was recorded on Zoom on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people. Nuria Sefchovich: Nuria’s passion is building the bridge that connects and serves other human beings to create bigger legacies that transform the world. She is a Spanish-English teacher. As part of the book project, Nuria shares her rite of passage to Canada while adapting and preserving the self and learning to navigate in a system that determines her identity based on the social construction of immigration. Moving from Mexico to Canada with her two daughters, with no social or professional support at the time and only trusting what she knew, Nuria has been creating everything from nothing. For over 20 years, she has had the honour of leading communications programs, marketing initiatives, and corporate social responsibility strategies for major government, non-profit, and private organizations. As a mentor, Nuria has been an incredible support for her mentees while volunteering at YWCA Metro Vancouver and Proyecto VIVE in Mexico. Nuria is a co-author of two books: “El Cristal con que miramos” and “Stories From Newcomers to Canada,” edited by The University of Fraser Valley. Additionally, she participates as a speaker in different panels, conferences, and online mastermind groups.

In the eighth and final episode of the Global Migration podcast “Geographies from the Heart: Life-writing from Newcomers to Canada,” host Mohammed Alsaleh speaks to the co-founder of the Syrian Civil Defense (also known as the White Helmets), Nedal Izdden. Nedal was a young dentist and basketball coach in the city of Homs when the Syrian revolution began in 2011. Together, host Mohammed Alsaleh and Nedal Izdden reflect on exactly 10 years of the conflict. Nedal commemorates changes in both his home country and in himself over an emotional decade-long journey on this very special episode recorded on the 10th anniversary of the Syrian Revolution. To support the project please visit the project’s GoFundMe page here. This podcast was recorded on Zoom on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people. Nedal Izzden: Nedal was a young dentist and basketball coach searching for his passion. When the Syrian revolution began, he dreamed of bringing change to his country, but a year later was forced to leave his homeland for Turkey. Nedal kept his passion alive and hope in his heart to be a part of something greater than himself. He helped establish the largest locally-led humanitarian organization in the Middle East, the White Helmets (also known as the Syria Civil Defence), won an international peace award, became an international public speaker on peace and humanitarian response, and realized his personal dream of being easily Googleable. Now, after many difficult years, the next part of Nedal’s life is beginning here in Canada.

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