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Richmond youth, seniors share personal migration stories

A one-time art performance called Mosaic Firefly will illustrate their experiences

Over the past year, Richmond youth and seniors participated in an art project called Mosaic Firefly to share their personal stories and experiences on the topic of migration.

Participants engaged in discussions on multiculturalism, diversity, racism and discrimination through a series of workshops in theatre, storytelling and visual art beginning in October 2022.

The end product of the project is “Migration Stories Richmond Edition,” an hour-long guided play that the participants will present to the public during a gathering on Oct. 15 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Richmond Cultural Centre Performance Hall.

“Seeing them — the two different generations — connecting and how they have learned from each other’s experiences and stories was an extremely enriching experience for me,” said Nikhat Qureshi, who coordinated the project with Richmond Multicultural Community Services.

“I think the impact both of the cohorts had on each other was very impressive to see …”

Mosaic Firefly began with an open call inviting Richmondites to join either a cohort made up of youth aged 13- to 18-years-old or seniors aged 55 and older. The cohorts have about 15 to 20 people each and were meant to represent “diversity of culture and different age groups and genders,” Qureshi said.

She also said that while there are a variety of backgrounds present among the project’s participants, most of the youth were born and raised in Canada and had the opportunity to gain different perspectives from the seniors.

“One of the participants shared with me in one of (the) evaluation focus groups that we were hosting that she never really paid attention to a senior’s presence around her before this project,” Qureshi said.

“And after this project, she learned their life stories, their struggles and — back in time — how they have made changes and the lengths and the depths they have gone in order to make a new life for themselves and their children …”

Qureshi added that it was also impactful to see the seniors relive moments from their past, especially through acting and storytelling.

In addition to the performance, Mosaic Firefly participants and the artist team who led the project will have a panel discussion. The event will also feature a display of visual art made by the participants.

The project is a partnership between a handful organizations and agencies, including Richmond Multicultural Community Services and the City of Richmond. It is funded in part by the Canadian government through the Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives Program.

While there can be many interpretations, Qureshi said she finds attendees will recognise the importance of “intergenerational communication” as a key takeaway from the performance and art.

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