About The Shoe Project

Our Story

The Shoe Project reveals how footwear – whether selected by choice or imposed in difficult circumstances – can make or break a journey, shape the present and open the door to a new future. Shoes can be terrible or wonderful, but one thing is certain, every new Canadian has a shoe tale to tell.

For those who have embarked on the long journey to a new life in a new country, shoes are a powerful metaphor for their journey.

Our Mission

  • To advance education by providing programs, courses, workshops and seminars to immigrant and refugee women to develop their written and oral skills, as well as their leadership skills.

  • To educate the public on the problems faced by immigrant and refugee women in Canada by providing presentations on such topics.

Our Impact Since 2011

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Arrival stories

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Performances in cities across Canada to bring women's stories to life and educate the greater public.

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Countries of origin from Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe: including Syria, Taiwan, Nepal, Iran, Iraq, South Sudan, Turkey and more.

Our Family

The Shoe Project is a family of women passionate about creating public performances where the brave and moving stories of newcomers and refugees are presented to the public. Meet our family.

Our Founder

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Katherine Govier

Novelist, Founder and Board Chair of The Shoe Project, Toronto

Read Our Founder's letter arrow

Katherine Govier


Novelist, Founder and Board Chair of The Shoe Project, Toronto


Letter From Our Founder

It has been nearly ten years since I started The Shoe Project in Toronto in 2011. I knew newcomer women who had much to give to Canada were often sidelined by a lack of expressive writing and speaking skills in English. Women especially- whether journalists, teachers, psychologists, nannies, or homemakers-  are kept out of the Canadian conversation unnecessarily. I wanted to hear from those women. My idea was to create a writing workshop for immigrant and refugee women from all over the world. Heather Gardiner, a philanthropist, and English literature scholar pitched in with some funds. Elizabeth Semmelhack, now Creative Director of The Bata Shoe Museum, offered the museum’s lunchroom on Thursday evenings—on the condition that we talk and write about shoes.

In this small way, we began—twelve women newcomers from five continents sitting around a table with me and an ESL coach, drinking tea. In wide-ranging and often emotional conversations, we explored “the shoes I left behind”, “the shoes I wore to cross the border” and “the shoes I dreamed I would wear in my new life.” After ten weeks of sharing, coaching, and editing, each member had written a 600- word memoir of her journey. The Bata Shoe Museum exhibited our shoes and held a reception. As our writers- from Afghanistan, China, Russia, Columbia, Ukraine, Japan, Eritrea, Turkey, Brazil - spoke into the microphone I realized that we needed to do more.

One session became two and three, and then three years of sessions.  We began to work with drama coaches. We built chapters in Vancouver, Canmore, Calgary, Antigonish, and Halifax. Before four years had passed, we were holding sold-out public events, backed up with music and photography. The women had gone from writing a beautiful memoir of shoes and migration, to telling their personal stories in public - in a second or third language. For many, it was a journey they never believed they could make. For audiences it has provides a glimpse into a new Canada they have not appreciated.

A decade will soon have passed. The Shoe Project has brought together veteran writers and theatre artists across Canada with refugees and immigrants to exchange storytelling skills for brilliant insights into the lived experiences of women as they leave one life behind and build a new one. It has been a phenomenal experience for me, and enlightening, I hope, for participants and audiences alike.

The journey continues as our alumnae begin to take on the management and direction of The Shoe Project. All its successes are their own. I will remain as Chair of the Board of our charity and will be cheering from the wings.

 

 

Katherine’s most recent novel is The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel, set in the Rocky Mountains. Her previous novel, The Ghost Brush, is about the daughter of the Japanese printmaker, Hokusai, and was published worldwide. Her earlier novel, Creation, about John James Audubon in Labrador, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She has won the Toronto Book Award (1992) and Canada's Findley-Engel Award for a mid-career writer (1997) and has been President of PEN Canada and Chair of The Writers’ Trust. Born in Edmonton, Katherine holds a degree in Honours English from the University of Alberta and a Master's in English Literature from York University. In Dec 2019 she was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

 

 

Our Team

Alumni of The Shoe Project

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Amena Shehab

Artistic Associate, Edmonton

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Amena Shehab


Artistic Associate, Edmonton


Amena is a Syrian Canadian actress and writer. She studied at the High Institute of Theatre in Damascus and worked with Al Jazeera Children’s Channel and other local theatre companies in Syria and Qatar.

 

Edmonton's theatrical projects have spoken to her as a woman, a mother, and an immigrant. Her first play in Edmonton was Nine Parts of Desire. It was followed by her roles as the Palestinian ghost in Souls in the Edmonton Fringe Festival and the nurse in Medea at the University of Alberta. Hagar, her one-woman show, focuses on the immigrant experience. Amena also portrayed Sammar in F.O.B and Nahla in Harun. In 2019, she played Amena in E-Day and Rehearsal. In 2020, she appeared in Azimuth Theatre’s All That Binds Us and Workshop West Playwrights’ Theatre’s production of Here There Be Night.

Anna Trader

Administrative Director

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Anna Trader


Administrative Director


Anna holds a B.S. and an M.B.A. and has held management positions for Consumer Reports magazine, Covanta Energy, and Esquire Litigation Services while she lived in the USA.  She spent a short time as a literary agent for a boutique Toronto agency after earning her honours diploma in book and magazine publishing.  Anna's biggest life lesson from her immigrant parents: resilience and compassion make it easier to embrace change.

Cordelia Tang

Director, Toronto Local Coordinator

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Cordelia Tang


Director, Toronto Local Coordinator


Cordelia Tang joined The Shoe Project workshop in 2013, two years after she arrived in Canada as a landed immigrant. In China, she had been working as an editor for over nine years. After graduating from the Master of Information program, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, she started working for The Shoe Project as director and Toronto local coordinator.

Irina Umnova

Social Media Coordinator

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Irina Umnova


Social Media Coordinator


Journalist and psychotherapist Irina Umnova arrived in Canada at the very end of 2015. In Russia, she worked as the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the international project Psychologies Magazine. Now, Irina is a Registered Psychotherapist in Toronto with her own private psychotherapist practice.

Ngozi Onyinye

Edmonton Local Coordinator

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Ngozi Onyinye


Edmonton Local Coordinator


Ngozi Onyinye earned a Bachelor's Degree in Public Administration from the University of Calabar, Nigeria. She received awards for academic achievements and recognitions for reaching out to students through faith-related publications as an Editor-in-chief, Editorial Adviser, and Electoral Secretary while serving as a Campus Journalist for different Editorial boards. She has earned certifications as an International Professional and Senior Professional in Human Resources (HR) and is presently earning more HR certifications. She currently works as an HR volunteer for an international organization where she sets professional examination questions. Her passion for inspiring women and youth has led her to publish a book based on her real-life experiences.

Noriko Ohsada

Bow Valley Local Coordinator

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Noriko Ohsada


Bow Valley Local Coordinator


Noriko immigrated from Japan in 1991. She created four personal stories with The Shoe Project in the past few years. Through these experiences, she has gained great confidence and useful skills such as public speaking and writing. Now she is ready to move forward to leadership and management roles and has been the Coordinator for The Shoe Project, Bow Valley in Canmore, Alberta. Noriko is a mother of three. Meg, her eldest daughter with Down syndrome is an active athlete and artist, and the other two daughters are pursuing their education. Noriko is a Japanese calligraphy artist and enjoys her free time in nature with her husband.

Roya Chalaki

Calgary Local Coordinator

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Roya Chalaki


Calgary Local Coordinator


Roya Chalaki immigrated to Canada from Iran in 2015. Throughout her life, she has been an avid learner and a passionate reader. The Shoe Project has been Roya's most serious involvement in writing. She participated three times in the Calgary workshop and developed a keen interest to help others to tell their stories. In 2019 she became the local coordinator in Calgary and she hopes to help more women in their journey in writing, leadership and community involvement. Roya is a mother and works as a software developer at Avanti Software Inc.

Shanga Karim

Vancouver Local Coordinator

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Shanga Karim


Vancouver Local Coordinator


Shanga Karim was a journalist and women’s activist in Kurdistan, editor-in-chief for a women’s rights newspaper that focused on violence against women, honour killing, and female genital mutilation. She holds a B.A. in Media Studies. She came to Canada in 2015. It was difficult with all the changes in Canada after leaving her life in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq. But she found a light to rebuild her life again. She participated in The Shoe Project writing workshop and wrote her story as a journalist woman, which she has performed at three different universities and events. She also writes stories with other organizations, and one of her stories has been selected as a best to be published by The Vancouver Writers Fest. Shanga is studying English at UFV to continue her education. She has a passion for improving her writing skills and has educational aspirations and enthusiasm for learning new things now that she is in Canada.  

Sujata Thapa

Grants and Fundraising Liaison

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Sujata Thapa


Grants and Fundraising Liaison


Sujata Thapa-Battarai is a Ph.D. candidate in Urban Planning at the University of Toronto. Her research interest is gender and transportation in the cities of Global South. She is currently a recipient of a Vanier Scholarship by Canadian government. She is coordinator of the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education at Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE).

Our Mentors

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Alison Matthews

Voice and Drama Coach

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Alison Matthews


Voice and Drama Coach


Alison Matthews is a veteran voice artist and coach with a wealth of experience in film and radio and a master’s degree in theatre voice training.

As an instructor, she has provided individual coaching and workshops for actors, politicians, academics and business professionals. She is a founding faculty member of the Arts Club Actor’s Intensive Training Program and a public speaking trainer for the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Columbia. As Head of Coaching for Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, she has coached over 40 productions since 2007.

For the past 25 years, Alison has also been a professional actor in animation, narration, telephony, radio, television and film. She has worked on acclaimed series, including The X-Files and Battlestar Galactica and films, such as Final Destination 2 and Disney's Snow Dogs.

Alison is passionate about supporting women in leadership to help them develop their self-confidence so that they can start using their voices with power and eloquence.

Learn more:  http://www.alisonmatthews.com/

Anne Simpson

Writing Mentor

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Anne Simpson


Writing Mentor


Anne Simpson is the first writing mentor of The Shoe Project in Antigonish. She is the author of three novels: Speechless (2020), Falling (2008), and Canterbury Beach (2001), as well as five poetry collections, and various works of non-fiction. Four of her books have been included in the Globe and Mail’s 100 Best Books of the Year. Her poetry was awarded the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Atlantic Poetry Prize. Her fiction has been awarded the Journey Prize and the Dartmouth Fiction Prize. It has also been longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

 

After completing her studies at Queen’s University and the Ontario College of Art and Design (now OCAD University), Anne lived, studied and worked in France and Italy. For two years, she lived in Nigeria where she volunteered as an English teacher with CUSO. She continued her work in adult literacy in Kingston, Ontario, founding a program for adults through the school board.

 

Today Anne lives in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where she started the Writing Centre at St. Francis Xavier University.

 

Learn more: https://www.annesimpson.ca

Barb Howard

Writing Mentor

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Barb Howard


Writing Mentor


Barb Howard has published a short story collection and four novels. She won the Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Fiction and the Exporting Alberta Award. Barb is a former lawyer and an established writing workshop facilitator who has been President of the Writers' Guild of Alberta, Writer-in-Residence for the Calgary Public Library and editor of FreeFall Magazine. She holds an MA in Creative Writing and, in 2019, completed the ICD-Rotman Not-for-Profit Governance Essentials Program. In addition to The Shoe Project, she currently sits on the Board of Directors of Calgary Arts Development and the Calgary Arts Foundation.

Caroline Adderson

Writing Mentor

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Caroline Adderson


Writing Mentor


Caroline Adderson was born and raised in Alberta. After high school, she joined the youth program Katimavik and spent a year living in different communities across Canada doing an eclectic range of volunteer work. She then settled in Vancouver where she attended the University of British Columbia, earning a B.Ed. with a concentration in Creative Writing. Over the subsequent 12 years, she worked as an ESL teacher.

Bad Imaginings, her first collection of short stories, was published in 1993. Stories from it have appeared in 19 anthologies worldwide. She has gone on to write several internationally published novels, including A History of Forgetting, Sitting Practice, and The Sky Is Falling - plus another collection of short stories: Pleased to Meet You, and more than 20 books for young readers.

Caroline is also the editor and co-contributor of Vancouver Vanishes: Narratives of Demolition and Revival, a book of essays and photographs, and guest editor of Best Canadian Stories 2019. Her work has received numerous award nominations including two Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. In 2017, she received a YWCA Women of Distinction Award. Among her many other awards are three BC Book Prizes, three CBC Literary Awards, and the Marian Engel Award for mid-career achievement.

In addition to her work as the Vancouver mentor for the Shoe Project, she teaches in the Writing and Publishing Program at SFU and is the Program Director of the Writing Studio at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

Conni Massing

Writing Mentor

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Conni Massing


Writing Mentor


Conni is an award-winning writer working in theatre, film, and television. Stage credits include Matara and The Invention of Romance, both premiered by Workshop West Playwrights Theatre, Oh! Christmas Tree (Roxy Performance Series), and her widely-produced stage adaptations of W.O Mitchell’s Jake and the Kid and Bruce Allen Powe’s The Aberhart Summer. Conni has worked as a story editor on television series such as Mentors, The Beat, North of 60, The Adventures of Shirley Holmes, Taking it Off, and Family Restaurant. Film projects include two feature-length comedies (in development) and two short films: Invisible, co-written with and directed by Neil Grahn and Voila, co-produced and directed by Geraldine Carr. Conni has several publications to her credit, including six of her plays and a comic memoir, Roadtripping: On the Move with the Buffalo Gals (Brindle and Glass Publishing). Her writing has been recognized by AMPIA, the Academy of Cinema and Television, the Betty Mitchell Awards, the Writers Guild of Alberta, and the Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards. A proud member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, Conni is currently serving as the Regional Writer-in-Residence for the Metro Edmonton Library System.

Denise Clarke

Voice Coach

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Denise Clarke


Voice Coach


Denise Clarke C.M. is the Associate Artist of One Yellow Rabbit Theatre. In 2018 she wrote and launched The Big Secret Book, An Intense Guide For Creating Performance Theatre. She is a member of the Order of Canada and holds an Honourary Doctorate from the University of Calgary.

Denise Fujiwara

Performance Coach

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Denise Fujiwara


Performance Coach


Denise is an innovative choreographer, dancer, teacher, actor and impresario. She has garnered multiple honours, including the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Muriel Sherrin Award for international dance achievement.

As a dance artist, Denise has over 40 years of intensive experience. Her mentors include Japanese butoh master Natsu Nakajima and John Tarrant Roshi of the Pacific Zen Institute. She founded the Toronto Independent Dance Enterprise (T.I.D.E.). In addition, Denise works in film and television. In 1997 she co-founded the Can-Asian International Dance Festival. She is also the artistic director of Fujiwara Dance Inventions, a repertory dance company in Toronto.

Denise has created a contemplative butoh practice that artfully encourages participants to experience embodied movement by cultivating curiosity, imagination, awareness and presence. She has led workshops and masterclasses across Canada and abroad. In 2021, she provided coaching to our participants from the whole-body perspective.
Read more:  https://www.fujiwaradance.com/

 

Photo credit: Denise Grant

 

Helen Rolfe

Writing Mentor

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Helen Rolfe


Writing Mentor


Helen is a professional writer and editor who won acclaim for her book Women Explorers: One Hundred Years of Courage and Audacity, a collection of portraits of pioneering women adventurers. She is also the co-author of the English version of Japanese alpinist Junko Tabei’s memoir Honouring High Places: The Mountain Life of Junko Tabei.

 

Helen resides in Canmore, where the beautiful Rocky Mountains surround her.

Kate Lynch

Performance Coach and Director

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Kate Lynch


Performance Coach and Director


Kate Lynch is an award-winning actor, playwright and professor with experience in theatre, television and radio. She is also a theatre director whose many credits include French Without Tears by Terrence Rattigan and Star Chamber by Noel Coward for the Shaw Festival, an all-female A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Theatre Passe Muraille, and three plays by Tom Walmsley: Blood, Descent and Three Squares a Day for several seasons at the Blyth Festival.

As a playwright, she wrote Early August, for the Blyth Festival, The Road to Hell, co-written with Michael Healey, for the Tarragon Theatre, and Tales of the Blond Assassin for Summerworks and CBC Radio. Kate has also taught at the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, the National Theatre School, George Brown College, Ryerson University, and the University of Toronto Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies.

Kate notes that being involved with The Shoe Project and working with such extraordinary women has been an honour for her.

Katherine Govier

Founder Board Chair of The Shoe Project

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Katherine Govier


Founder Board Chair of The Shoe Project

@kmgovier


Katherine Govier is the author of ten novels and three collections of short stories. Her novel Creation was a New York Times Notable book of 2010. The Ghost Bush, the story of Hokusai’s daughter and collaborator, was published in Japan, the US, the UK, Spain, France and other countries. She has won The Toronto Book Award, The Engel-Findlay award for a writer in mid- career, and has been shortlisted for the Trillium Prize. She has been President of PEN Canada and Chair of the Writers’ Trust. Katherine founded and is Artistic Director of The Shoe Project, a national writing and public speaking charity for immigrant and refugee women. Katherine’s most recent novel is The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel, a story of a pioneer trail-riding family in the Canadian Rockies. She is at present completing her eleventh novel, which returns to the subject of the great Japanese printmaker and his equally-great daughter.

Leah Cherniak

Voice and Drama Coach

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Leah Cherniak


Voice and Drama Coach


Leah Cherniak is an indispensable member of The Shoe Project.  As our innovative voice and drama coach for almost a decade, she has worked patiently with the participants so that they can deliver their personal stories confidently on a public stage.

Leah is an award-winning director, playwright, actor, and teacher. After receiving her BA from the University of Toronto in 1979, she studied theatre at Ecole Jacques Lecoq, a drama school in Paris. She co-founded Theatre Columbus (now Common Boots Theatre) and has been the theatre's co-artistic director with Martha Ross for over 25 years.

As a director, Leah has been associated with various Canadian theatres, including the National Arts Centre, Tarragon Theatre, Soulpepper Theatre, the Blyth Theatre Festival, and Montreal's Saidye Bronfman Centre. As a teacher, she has taught in theatre programs at the University of Toronto, George Brown College--and Ryerson University where she runs an intensive clown course. 

The Toronto Shoe Project women feel fortunate to be guided by someone with Leah's level of dedication and expertise.

 

Momoye Sugiman

Writing Mentor

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Momoye Sugiman


Writing Mentor


Born and raised in Toronto, Momoye is a veteran ESL teacher with a keen interest in anti-racist education and a passion for helping newcomers nurture their creativity and empower themselves. Since the inception of The Shoe Project, she has been involved as an ESL coach, copy editor and recruiter. Momoye holds a BA in English Literature, a Certificate in Teaching ESL and an MA in Immigration and Settlement Studies. She has written various articles and edited two books featuring oral histories.

Nan Hughes Poole

Voice Coach

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Nan Hughes Poole


Voice Coach


We are delighted that Banff mezzo-soprano Nan Hughes Poole is the Voice Coach again for The Shoe Project in Canmore in 2021..
For those who haven’t met Nan yet, she’s an incredibly warm person who immediately makes you feel at ease. She gives the participants all the tools they need to tell their stories in front of a big audience and in a language that is not their mother tongue.


Nan graduated cum laude in English and American Literature from Harvard University and received a master's degree in music from Boston University. She also attended the Juilliard Opera Center, studying with Beverley Johnson. A long-time resident of Banff, Alberta, Nan has been a faculty member of the Banff Centre's Music and Sound program and an active promoter of Bow Valley's artistic community. Her passion as a performer, educator and volunteer organizer garnered her a YWCA Women of Distinction Award in 2019.


Her solo orchestral appearances include the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Norddeutscher Rundfunk Orchestra in Hamburg, and the Dnipropetrovsk Symphony Orchestra in Ukraine. She has toured throughout Europe, the United States and Brazil as a soloist with New York’s Continuum, a contemporary chamber music ensemble. Her many career highlights include a televised performance at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, a contemporary recital at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, performances at the Warsaw Autumn festival, the role of Rosina in The Barber of Seville at the Aspen Festival, and cabaret with the Boston Pops.

 

Photo credit: Alexis McKeown

Olive Senior

Writing Mentor

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Olive Senior


Writing Mentor


Olive Senior was born in Jamaica and lives in Toronto. She has worked internationally as a creative writing teacher and lecturer on Caribbean literature and culture. She is on the faculty of the Humber School for Writers, Toronto and has taught in the writing programmes at University of Toronto, St Lawrence University, and Barnard College, Columbia University, New York. Olive Senior's work has been broadcast on both sides of the Atlantic, including the BBC Book at Bedtime and the CBC Festival of Fiction. Her short story “You Think I Mad, Miss?” was produced and performed as 'Mad Miss' by Theatre Archipelago in 2005 at Artword Theatre, Toronto. She has published novels, short stories and non-fiction. Her work has been included in the Best Poems on the Underground published by London Transport and she is a featured poet on The Poetry Archive.

Sarah Weatherwax

Voice Coach and Director

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Sarah Weatherwax


Voice Coach and Director


Sarah Weatherwax is an actor and Designated Linklater Voice Teacher based in Toronto, Ontario. She has taught voice for the actor in numerous studios and schools, including Shakespeare & Company, Straeon Acting Studios and Brock University. She has extensive experience as a theatre actor and has done voice acting for more than 20 years, working on shows such as Coroner and Heartland, and movies such as Beeba Boys, Book of Negroes, and Random Acts of Violence. She was the recipient of a generous grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to complete her training with the renowned Kristin Linklater in 2003. In 2019 she attended a Continued Professional Development course for established teachers at the Kristin Linklater Voice Centre in Scotland.

 

Recent interesting work credits include teaching a communication skills class for doctors at a major Toronto hospital, leading a voice workshop for women in the legal profession hosted by the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers and being a speaker and panelist at VO Atlanta, the world's largest Voice Over conference. She really enjoyed narrating the audiobook, Under the Bridge by Anne Bishop and getting a paper she wrote about voice published in the academic journal the Voice & Speech Review. She has an ongoing private practice and teaches group classes for actors from around the world online.

 

Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg

Movement Coach

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Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg


Movement Coach


Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg is an innovative dance artist, choreographer, and writer. As the artistic director of Tara Cheyenne Performance (TCP), she has created and performed kinetic theatrical expressions of the ever strange and wonderful human experience.

Since graduating from Simon Fraser University (SFU), Tara has been writing and performing unique signature works that have garnered numerous accolades. She is a 2014 recipient of Dance Victoria’s Chrystal Dance Prize and has been nominated for the Jessie, Ovation and Lola awards for theatrical choreography.

Tara is expanding her engaging interdisciplinary performances in upcoming works including film and environmental venues. Her acclaimed solo pieces include Nick and Juanita, Banger, Goggles, Porno Death Cult and  Body Parts, a recent digital project that explores how we feel about, process and live in our bodies.

You can find out more about Tara online at taracheyenne.com

 

https://www.instagram.com/TaraCheyenneTCP/

Board of Directors

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Barb Howard

Author and former Lawyer

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Barb Howard


Author and former Lawyer


Barb Howard has published a short story collection and four novels. She won the Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Fiction and the Exporting Alberta Award. Barb is a former lawyer and an established writing workshop facilitator who has been President of the Writers' Guild of Alberta, Writer-in-Residence for the Calgary Public Library and editor of FreeFall Magazine. She holds an MA in Creative Writing and, in 2019, completed the ICD-Rotman Not-for-Profit Governance Essentials Program. In addition to The Shoe Project, she currently sits on the Board of Directors of Calgary Arts Development and the Calgary Arts Foundation.

Danielle McLaughlin

Civil Liberties Educator and Broadcaster, Toronto

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Danielle McLaughlin


Civil Liberties Educator and Broadcaster, Toronto


Danielle was the director of education for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust for twenty years, working closely with the late Alan Borovoy. She has an interest in disabilities and brings tremendous experience in building and maintaining a non-profit and working within the education sphere.

Filiz Dogan

Psychologist, Alumna of The Shoe Project, Toronto

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Filiz Dogan


Psychologist, Alumna of The Shoe Project, Toronto


Filiz is a psychologist from Turkey. She was a member of the first Shoe Project session in 2011, and is now a four-time alumna. She has curated Shoe Project performances for The Toronto Storytelling Festival in Toronto and has helped bring many new members to our project.

Georgina Steinsky

Consultant in philanthropic management, historian, Toronto

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Georgina Steinsky


Consultant in philanthropic management, historian, Toronto


Georgina is a historian, a former Deputy Minister in the federal government, and serves on the Board of Directors of The Bata Shoe Museum. Formerly of Imagine Canada, she has extensive experience in the world of non-profits. She also had been a generous donor and advisor to The Shoe Project as it has grown.

Heather Gardiner

Founding Sponsor of The Shoe Project, Toronto

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Heather Gardiner


Founding Sponsor of The Shoe Project, Toronto


Heather holds a Ph.D. in English Literature and personally sponsored The Shoe Project in its beginning, connecting us to our partner, The Bata Shoe Museum. She is a loyal attendee of all performances and has brought her family’s foundation to be our sustaining funder.

Katherine Govier

Novelist, Founder and Board Chair of The Shoe Project

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Katherine Govier


Novelist, Founder and Board Chair of The Shoe Project


Katherine is the founder of The Shoe Project and its Board Chair. She has published ten novels published in seven countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Spain, and France. Her novel, Creation, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. A winner of the Marian Engel Award for Women Writers, and the City of Toronto Book Award, she has been President of PEN Canada and Chair of the Writers Trust. Before founding TSP she was a co-founder of the national schools program Writers in Electronic Residence.

Nalini Chariandy

Accountant, Toronto

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Nalini Chariandy


Accountant, Toronto


Nalini is an accountant who dreams of being a writer. Her first book, The Maple Leaf Effect, dived into immigrant life in Canada and brought her to The Shoe Project where her world collided with the real thing - women from all walks of life starting over in Canada. She is a CPA, CGA, MBA with a B.Sc. in Psychology and Sociology. It took a lot of letters behind her name before she realized people were still the most important.

Nick Rundall

Publisher, Treasurer of the Board, Toronto

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Nick Rundall


Publisher, Treasurer of the Board, Toronto


Nick is a retired book publisher and former member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Canadian Publishers. He has been handling our finances and serves as Treasurer to the Board of Directors.

Roya Chalaki

Software developer, Calgary local coordinator, Alumna of The Shoe Project, Calgary

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Roya Chalaki


Software developer, Calgary local coordinator, Alumna of The Shoe Project, Calgary


Roya is an IT professional from Iran. She is a four times alumna of The Shoe Project in Calgary and is serving as local coordinator for the 2019-2020 cycle. She has brought new members to the project and has served as an ambassador to school classrooms.

I’m blown away. Those women are amazing, their stories bold and brave and filled with humour, love, and all the travails of making their journeys here. I loved the various shoes, the boots, the “slippers”. What an outstanding project!

- Catherine Mitchell, Publisher

Partners and Supporters

The Shoe Project is fortunate to partner with incredible individuals and organizations across Canada. Thank you for your continued support.

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TSP has been funded by The Royal Society (Atlantic), The Toronto Arts Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, the City of Vancouver, and the Department of Heritage, CSMARI Program of the government of Canada, as well as 68 private donors.

Let’s share more stories. Together.

The Shoe Project was launched in Toronto in 2011. Since then, we have added chapters in Vancouver, Calgary and Halifax, and are now a registered charity. We are committed to providing a truly national platform for the voices of immigrant and refugee women.