A new window display at the Surrey Arts Centre shares the stories of immigrant women. Each story provides a glimpse into a different female’s journey and life in Canada. Many immigrated from countries such as Iraq, Syria and Jordan.

“I wanted to show how families adapt to Canadian culture, but also share what memories and heritage they’ve brought from their home countries,” explains Nazam Bains, a social work graduate and project leader.

These photos were created through a series of cultural exchange workshops held by Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS). Participants explored questions of cultural diversity and learned camera skills from a professional photographer. The final assignment was to create auto-ethnographic photography series—a method of telling one’s story through photos.

“This project is a great example of how we promote harmony and inter-cultural understanding,” says Devinder Chattha, Director, Language, Settlement & Social programs at PICS. “We hope that people not only enjoy the artwork, but also learn about people who are new to their community.”

“I’m very pleased with how it turned out,” says Nazam. “I never thought that working in a social service setting would lead me to work as an artist.”

The photos will be on display between September 25, 2021 to November 28th, 2021 at Surrey Arts Centre # 13750, 88th Ave located in the Bear Creek park.

Meanwhile, please enjoy looking at these photos and reading their stories below;

Safaa’s Story

Hi, my name is Safaa.

“There should be love and mercy between a couple” -The Holy Quran

This photo was taken when we experienced our first Canadian winter. It symbolized a happy ending as we had just left a war-torn place.

What I’m practicing here is called Embroidery Artwork. This is a common practice in the country I came from. It keeps myself connected to my cultural identity.

When I do feel alone and far away from loved ones back home, I remind myself that I’m not alone, Allah is with me. At times, the kids and I feel extremely nostalgic about the memories we had in our previous country but, we know tomorrow will be better.

Rana’s Story

Hi, I’m Rana

I was born and raised in Syria. This photo shows myself when I was in grade 5 with my two younger brothers.

This is me during my teenage years. I was in grade 8. It was taken at a neighbor’s balcony. In Syria, the neighbors are very close, like family for each other.

I felt so relieved when I finally got my Canadian citizenship.

I love to hand out flowers, especially red roses to all friends and relatives who visit.

Thank you for taking the time to see my story.

Qamar’s Story

Hi, I am Qamar and I am 12 years old.

During my childhood, I used to be quite the ballerina…

Fast forward to today, and my interests are something else!

Basketball has become my new passion.

If there’s one thing you should know about me, I live for today and don’t worry about the future.

Thank you for hearing my story.

Mais’s Story

Hi I am Mais and I am 13 years old now.

This photo was in Syria where I grew up and I was around 4 years old here.

This is me today in Canada

Knitting is something I constantly practice when I’m bored or have spare time. My mother taught this skill to me at a very young age and to this day, it remains as my favorite hobby.

This year, I graduated from Strawberry Hill Elementary. My friend on the other hand, has one year left.

Well, the next chapter of high school has begun for me. I’m sure it’ll be quite the adventurous journey!

Jamileh’s Story

Hi I am Jamileh

This picture is from when we arrived in Canada for the first time.

This picture is from when I gave birth to my 5th child in Canada.

Luckily my two youngest children get along quite well, phew!

“Why is your mum a superwoman?” “Well, it’s the things she does for us like constantly cooking and still being able to patiently listen to our thoughts.” -Mohammed 17, Hala 14 & Yazeed 18.

My family and I are very happy to live here in Canada. This opportunity provides a better life for all of us, especially my children.

Ayah’s Story

Hi I am Ayah, and I am 12 years old.

I like to make life full of adventures.

If my friend could describe me in one word, she’d say sporty.

At times, when life is not so much of a great adventure, I practice self care with art activities.

To add to that, I’m very grateful that I have my friend Mais for support.

Thank you for viewing my story.