Working with stranded Afghan women to tell their stories provides unparalleled insights

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June 17, 2022



Working with stranded Afghan women to tell their stories provides unparalleled insights


TORONTO (June 8, 2022) — The Shoe Project has wrapped up the preparations for its performance by a group of women evacuated from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Since January, they have been mentored online by Canadian writers Katherine Govier and Caroline Adderson and performance coached by Banff soprano Nan Hughes Poole to write and perform their stories.


The girls are former students of a co-ed school in Kabul, an institution renowned for empowering young Afghan women. 450 of them made the perilous journey overland to Islamabad, Pakistan. Of those, 250 have been admitted to Canada and resettled in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The remainder of the group waits in limbo while they seek reunion with their group in Saskatoon. The young women were rising stars in their school known for academic excellence, athletic prowess, and musical talent. Due to security reasons, we are not naming their school or the city they are hiding in.


“Taken together, the suite of stories offers an unparalleled insight into the people of Kabul as the city succumbed to the Taliban, the rush to heavily guarded land borders by the young ‘Democracy Generation’, the many attempts to cross out of Afghanistan, and the subsequent wait for resettlement,” said Govier, who founded the women-led, non-profit writing and performance initiative ten years ago. “We see the personalities, loves, hopes and steely resolve of the scholars we have worked with.”


Donors to The Shoe Project’s Afghan Fund made this workshop possible, and the women will be paid for use of their stories when they arrive in Canada. The Shoe Project hopes to have a live performance of the women. Donations can be made at


“I was both honoured and humbled by the opportunity to work with these astonishing women,” said Adderson, who is based in Vancouver. “With the Taliban’s take-over of Afghanistan, they lost everything — their safety, their right to education, their careers. Many fled without having the chance to say good-bye to their families. And now they wait in a foreign country, hoping for an actual future. In the meantime, they are writing stories that tell of generations of persecution for being Hazara, and of their own perilous escape. The world needs to hear them.”


For interviews with Katherine Govier, founder and Board Member Emerita, please contact The Shoe Project communications lead:


About The Shoe Project

For the past ten years, The Shoe Project has been changing the way Canadians see immigrant and refugee women, through story and performance. Every journey begins with a pair of shoes. Our alumnae of 250 women from 62 countries credit The Shoe Project with changing their lives, giving them the skills, confidence and support to succeed in a new country. Many take on leadership roles in the organization. Led by professional Canadian writers and theatre artists, our workshops and performances lift the voices of women immigrants and refugees into Canada’s national conversation.


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