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Shoe Project seeks immigrant women with a story to tell

Canmore resident and writer Katherine Govier is bringing her successful writing workshop for immigrant women to Canmore. The Shoe Project, supported by the Canmore-based Mary A.

Canmore resident and writer Katherine Govier is bringing her successful writing workshop for immigrant women to Canmore.

The Shoe Project, supported by the Canmore-based Mary A. Tidlund Charitable Foundation, is designed for immigrant women looking to improve their written and spoken English.

The program is already in place in Toronto, with about 60 women going through the program so far.

Shoes play a central part in the workshop, as it is something everyone can relate to, Govier said.

“It’s not necessarily for writers, but for people who may want to speak out about something at a meeting, record their memories, or professionally,” Govier said Monday (July 21).

“It’s a big confidence builder and it’s fun. I never knew shoes could take us so far. We’re kind of loose about the shoes; sometimes we don’t even start with the shoes. People just get going and the story emerges. We’ll say, ‘where do the shoes come in?’ so we’ll tie it back to the shoes,” she said.

For instance, Govier said, one of her participants in Toronto from China talked about growing up under China’s one-child policy and being an only child as a result.

“She talked about all the things she believed she had missed by not having siblings,” Govier said. “She had come to Canada because she wanted a family life. She had her baby and of course was going to have a second baby and the shoes were these little booties. She learned to knit from her grandmother who actually had bound feet.

“Chinese society had gone literally gone from where women had bound feet to her mother’s generation, who were in the workforce in Communist China.”

“We take the shoes broadly, it’s not like she wore those shoes here, but in a way those booties brought her here,” said Govier.

This marks the first time The Shoe Project has operated outside of Toronto and Govier, an award-winning writer, already has seven participants lined up, but she has room for five more.

The project begins on Oct. 29 with daily meetings at the Canmore Public Library from 1-4 p.m. with a public reading scheduled for Nov. 9. Voice coaching for the public, reading and rehearsal time will be arranged separately.

Govier said each participant will receive an honourarium and organizers will help participants work with employers to get time off to attend the meetings.

“We understand they have jobs and children, so we’re trying to be flexible,” she said.

Along with improving grammar, composition and a sense of how to build a story, participants tend to become close with each other in what is a supportive atmosphere.

To learn more about The Shoe Project, go to www.govier.com/shoe.htm or contact Govier at shoeprojecttoronto@gmail.com.

The workshop is designed for immigrant women who have an intermediate to high level of English.

“They’ve got to be interested in early working with the language. It’s a great way to learn to finesse with the language,” she said. “These are people who have great things to tell us and they want to participate in Canadian culture. We need them.”




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