The Shoe Project wants Calgary immigrant women’s stories

The Calgary workshop pays women $400 for the right to publish completed stories

Last year's participants gather backstage at The Shoe Project's performance at the Central Library. Contributed by Barb Howard.

The Shoe Project is looking for immigrant or refugee women in Calgary with a story to tell… about headgear.

Barb Howard, a writing mentor for Calgary’s Shoe Project, said they wanted to spice up the theme this year. 

“It’s a first,” Howard said. 

“A couple of participants called me today from Congo saying ‘what do you mean by headgear,’ and I said ‘I don’t know.’ But that could be headphones, a tiara or maybe a scarf – even perhaps a wig.”

RELATED: Calgary refugee stories told at 10th anniversary of Coming out Monologues

The Shoe Project is a writing and performance workshop where immigrant women learn to shape, write and tell the stories of their journey to Canada. Professional writers and theatre professionals help the women to craft their stories.

Immigrant or refugee women living in Calgary between the ages of 18 and 80 can apply for the Shoe Project. Women must be willing to share their story, be motivated to write expressively and speak publicly in English. 

The writing process

“There’s lots of crying but there’s also lots of laughing,” Howard said.

“I think, ‘oh my god how does 600 words take 10 weeks’ but it does. It’s digging into those details.”

For Howard, things like shoes and headgear accompany us on all our journeys. So writing their “shoe memoirs” gives immigrant women a voice and helps them be heard in the Canadian mainstream.

Past participants have come from South Sudan, Congo, Taiwan, Brazil and Romania.

“We’re looking for a wide range of people. We’re looking for people from a range of countries, with their own personal styles. Everything from the shy to the theatre trained.”

For those selected to move forward, the program pays women $400 for the right to publish completed stories. Interested women can contact The Shoe Project at for more information.

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