The Shoe Project’s Annual Report 2021

What We're Doing Now

February 10, 2022

Thank you to our outgoing Board of Directors:

Katherine Govier Toronto (Chair)
Nick Rundall Toronto (Secretary)
Georgina Steinsky Toronto
Heather Gardiner Toronto
Danielle McLaughlin Toronto
Roya Chalaki Calgary
Barb Howard Calgary
Filiz Dogan Toronto


Board of Directors voted in at our December 2021 AGM:

Barb Howard Calgary (Chair)
Barb has been on The Shoe Project board since 2019. She has been the writing mentor for The Shoe Project in Calgary since 2017. A lawyer by training, she is a novelist and short story writer and has served as President of The Writers’ Guild of Alberta. She is a current member of the board of Calgary Arts Development.


Nick Rundall Toronto (Treasurer)
Nick has been on The Shoe Project board since its inception. 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 Secretary to the Board of Directors.


Danielle McLaughlin Toronto
Danielle has been on The Shoe Project board since its inception. Danielle was the director of education for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust for twenty years. She has an interest in disabilities and brings tremendous experience in building and maintaining a non-profit and working within the education sphere.


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


Nalini Chariandy Toronto
Nalini has been working with The Shoe Project board since October 2021. Nalini is an accountant and a writer. Her first book, The Maple Leaf Effect, explored immigrant life in Canada and brought her to The Shoe Project. She is a CPA, CGA, and MBA and has a B.Sc. in Psychology and Sociology.


Valérie Jamga Tchatchoua Calgary

Valérie has been working with The Shoe Project board since October 2021. Fluent in both English and French, Valérie is a registered Social Worker with Alberta College of Social Worker (ACSW). She is a two-time alumna of the Shoe Project. Valérie has experience working with a diverse population, especially with newcomers in Canada.


Marian Botsford Fraser Toronto

Marian has been working with The Shoe Project board since October 2021. She is an award-winning freelance writer, broadcaster, and critic. Marian has been Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International, President of PEN Canada, and Vice President of ACTRA.


Katherine Govier Toronto (Board Member Emerita)
Katherine is the founder of The Shoe Project. 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 school’s program Writers in Electronic Residence. Katherine is a Member of the Order of Canada.




Hello everyone,
Since October 2021, I have had the privilege of being the Chair of The Shoe Project’s board of directors. I took over this role from Katherine Govier. Although I have been Chair of other boards, the last few months have been a whirlwind of learning and meetings. Thanks to Katherine Govier, Cordelia Tang, Rhonda Risebrough, all the board members, and everyone else for helping me learn the ropes, or the laces, so to speak.
Despite another year in a pandemic, 2021 was a good year for The Shoe Project. Our finances were stable, and successful activities included the live-streamed 10th anniversary celebration in Toronto, the live-streamed Canmore performance, Edmonton’s first workshop and performance, and the launch of the story repository. We received a large grant from the Canada Council to run four digital programs, and in the fall of 2021, began Zoom workshops in Calgary and Vancouver. You’ll see more about all our activities in Cordelia Tang’s Managing Director report. Cordelia is an organizational, grant-writing mastermind.
This past fall we undertook a review and update of The Shoe Project’s job descriptions and also had a few staff changes. Anna Trader, who worked with us for six years and set up contracts, financial processes and website upgrades, left us at the end of September. We miss her but are glad to see her successfully pursuing her career goals. Rhonda Risebrough, an expert in donor campaigns and public relations, joined us in October as Communications and Fundraising Lead. You can read more about Rhonda’s amazing work in her report.
In December 2021 we held an Annual General Meeting on Zoom. Several resolutions were passed, including an amendment to the organization’s bylaw. This amendment honours Katherine Govier by appointing her as Board Member Emerita, and ensures a space for Katherine’s knowledge, experience, and ideas at future board meetings. As you’ll see from Katherine’s report, although she has retired from the Chair position, she is as busy with The Shoe Project as ever, working as the lead on our Afghan fund and creating an exciting international chapter.
I’m looking forward to 2022. The Board will continue to explore ways to support all staff, participants, mentors, coaches, members and alumnae. And, of course, we will work to fulfill our mission to assist immigrant and refugee women and to educate the Canadian public through the act of storytelling.



The Shoe Project 2021 Performances


Toronto – April 2021
● Mentors and coaches: Olive Senior, Leah Cherniak, and Kate Lynch
● Participants: 10
● Local coordinator: Cordelia Tang
● Performance: April 11, 2021, live streaming on Zoom


Edmonton – March 2021
● Mentors and coaches: Connie Massing, Patricia Darbasie
● Participants: 12
● Local coordinator: Amena Shehab, Ngozi Anokwu
● Performance: March 14, 2021, live streaming on Zoom


Canmore – September 2021
● Mentors and coaches: Helen Rolfe, Nan Hughes Poole
● Participants: 12
● Local coordinator: Noriko Ohsada
● Performance: Sept 11 (7:30 pm) and Sept. 12 (2 pm), 2021, in-person and live streaming








Special Events and Projects


The Shoe Project Shorts Film Screening and Panel Discussion

● The Microfilming workshop (The Shoe Project Shorts) was collaborated between TSP and filmmaker Gerda Cammaer, with Katherine Govier as the artistic director.

○ Participants: 5 TSP alumnae
○ Workshop: Oct. 2020–June 2021
○ Screening: June 26, 2021, Canada’s Multiculturalism Day, via Zoom due to Covid


Leadership Webinars

● Leadership Webinar with Nalini Chariandy: Financial Tips for Newcomer, on June 12, 2021
● Leadership Webinar with Dr. Yamam Abuzinadah: Speaking in Public with Less Fear, on April 8, 2021


New Story Repository Website

● The Shoe Project Repository website
● Development supported by RBC Foundation
● May 2021–Oct. 2021
● Web developer: Saman Mohaghegh
● Project manager and Editor: Anna Trader
● Shoe illustrations by Emily Honderich


Instagram Team

● Feb. 2021-Sept. 2021
● Team members: Aya Mhana (Calgary), Venera Loshaj Balaj (Vancouver), Mujgan Ozceylan (Toronto), Nurdjana de Rijke (Canmore), Momoye Sugiman (copy editor)
● Weekly posts on TSP Instagram account



September Launch of the Afghan Fund


In response to the evacuation of refugees from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, The Shoe Project announced the creation of our Afghan Fund. The funds raised are designated to assist Afghan women arriving in Canada. Sheila Qayumi joined The Shoe Project Calgary. The Afghan Fund was the focus of the 2021 holiday fundraising campaign. At the end of December, the Afghan Fund had raised just over $14,000. We ended 2021 with plans to begin our first ever international workshop for a group of Afghan schoolgirls in Pakistan. They are hoping to be reunited with the rest of their group who have settled in Saskatoon, SK


Afghan newcomer Rukhshana Ahmadi was separated from her family at the Kabul airport, was close to a bomb blast that temporarily affected her hearing and arrived in Canada on her own. She hopes to be reunited with her mother and brothers. In Afghanistan, she was training to be a pilot to support her family. She has joined The Shoe Project in Toronto.



Toronto – 10th Anniversary Celebrations


Live Performance: Highlights of The Shoe Project – 10 Years of Working with Newcomer Women


The Shoe Project marked ten years of achievement with a live performance at the Daniels Spectrum Theatre in Toronto on September 12, 2021. The women were coached by voice teacher Sarah Weatherwax, filmed by Reem Morsi and her team, stage managed by Milena Fera and the show was live streamed to ticket purchasers. Saskia Tomkins and 3-time Juno nominated Sultans of String performed.
Thanks to the generous contributions of donors and volunteers, eleven women from our chapters in Halifax, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver shared the stage. They are:
Ayah Aldeeb, Tenzin Choden, Yasmin Lash Harun, Fatemeh Latifi, Venera Loshaj Balaj, Natalia Mokhovikova, Valérie Jamga Tchatchoua, Khujesta Sadri, Soaad Shhab, Cordelia Tang, Serap Tezgel.
The videos of these performances will be made available on our website in 2022 in a move to make more of our incredible TSP stories available to the public and the media as well as our funders and donors.


Our First Online Auction

The Shoe Project held its first online auction in conjunction with the September performance. Thank you to all of the supporters who donated and purchased auction items, and to Yuli Hu for organizing it. We raised almost $5000!



2021 has been an eventful year, to say the least.
We overcame huge challenges to continue facilitating our program during the pandemic. Our small-group in-person workshops and powerful performances were both affected by repeated lockdowns in the year 2021. However, it was during the pandemic that we were reassured once again how much The Shoe Project could support immigrant and refugee women and impact their lives. They told us they had to stay at home to take care of kids and the elderly and they had setbacks in their English due to a lack of interpersonal communication. It is our mission to help them out of isolation, reconnect them with society and rebuild their confidence. So, we adapted and kept on delivering programs and organizing events despite all the challenges.
Thanks to the support from our donors, granting agencies, and local partners, we facilitated workshops and held performances in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Canmore. We celebrated The Shoe Project’s 10th anniversary gathering performers from 5 cities from coast to coast. Our alumnae community welcomed nearly 50 more new members. We built a searchable repository to preserve and showcase over 300 immigrant stories. More organizations from across the country learned about us and approached us for collaboration. Our newsletter subscribers have more than doubled in the year 2021.
2021 has been an incredible year of adapting and exploring. We have accomplished so many first-times in The Shoe Project’s history: first-time online writing workshop, first-time online performance coaching, first-time live Zoom presentation, first-time online streaming of pre-recorded story presentations, and first-time live-streaming an in-person performance to a national audience. By extending our programs and events to the online platform, we grew our resilience against the pandemic and other obstacles. We discovered the possibility to connect mentors and participants from thousands of miles apart. We also proved that we can build a national platform for our newcomer women to be heard.
In 2022, we look forward to workshops and performances in Toronto, Edmonton, Canmore, Calgary, Vancouver, Halifax, and in new chapter cities of Windsor and Brampton. We are working on collaborating with local partners to bring The Shoe Project workshops to more communities. We expect more emerging mentors from diverse cultural backgrounds to join us. We will strengthen our connections with alumnae. With a new board and devoted staff members working together, we have an amazing 2022 ahead.



It is an honour to join The Shoe Project to build dynamic fundraising and communications initiatives. Starting with the Afghan Fund, we have seen our donors step up to support this important new program. We also need to grow our base of support to sustain our core programs – the incredible workshops and performances of The Shoe Project.
How can you help?
• Become a monthly donor
• Follow us on social media and share our posts
• Sign up for our newsletter for the latest updates
• Hold a fundraising event, like a birthday or anniversary celebration, a bake/plant/craft sale or a fundraising walk with friends and family
• Ask your employer about your company’s matching donation program or corporate giving
• Consider a legacy gift to The Shoe Project
Our focus in 2022 will be to showcase the impact The Shoe Project has had on our participants over the last ten years. What happens after our participants complete their performances? Where do their new skills and confidence lead them? We know there are some great success stories out there and we look forward to sharing them with you.




The Shoe Project Fall 2021 Workshops


Writing Mentor: Caroline Adderson
Performance Coaches: Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg and Alana Hawley Purvis
Local Coordinator: Shanga Karim (Alumna)
12 participants
Performance Dates: March 5 and 6, 2022


Writing Mentor: Barb Howard
Associate Writing Mentor: Kirti Bhadresa
Performance Coach: Denise Clarke
Production Manager: Naomi Esau
Local Coordinator: Aya Mhana (Alumna)
12 participants
Performance Date: To be confirmed (postponed due to COVID)


Writing Mentor: Katherine Govier
Associate Writing Mentor: Camila Uriona (Alumna)
Performance Coaches: Leah Cherniak and Joanne O’Sullivan
Local Coordinators: Zahida Rahemtulla and Yuli Hu (alumnae)
12 participants
Performance Dates: To be confirmed



2021 Revenue and Expenses





Where do our TSP participants originate from?





Thank you to our Supporters and Partners