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Why write the story of your ancestry? Here’s an inspiring example.

Can you spot Mt. Rainier in this photo? It's there albeit hazy. But when it comes to business, you can be sure there is a mountain to climb!

Earlier this year, Gayathri met her co-author Miriam Fabijan who so graciously gifted her with these pieces of her visual art. Hearing about the impact that Landed had on her, in her own words, and then receiving this gift, reflects why we do what we do. 

If you have been thinking about writing your ancestral story, know that you are embarking on one of the most empowering ways to reclaim your authentic voice. While there might be pain or trauma in your past, you will also access a unique pathway to healing. Case in point is Miriam’s testimony below, shared with her permission:

“Dear Reader,

I am one of 37 Canadian immigrant women who shared their journey story, and just one of so many many more. There are moments in time when opportunities, platforms, challenges, must dos present themselves and beckon to be taken on. Participating in Gayathri Shukla’s Campfire Kinship project, later called “Landed, Transformative Stories of Canadian Immigrant Women,” was just that call. I had been sharing aspects of my heritage via my visual artwork, but I had never written about it in story form. When I saw the call posted on CADA’s website by Campfire Kinship to both immigrant and first generation Canadian women to share their immigration story, I knew that I was meant to apply. Gayathri graciously accepted me.

“Participating in this project ended up being a profound experience beyond my expectations. I found myself surrounded by so many beautiful voices filled with authenticity, sincerity, generosity, acceptance, and friendship. We met (via zoom because of COVID restriction, but this did not lessen the effect of the experience) and shared and supported each other. I felt very lucky to be part of this collective of amazing women. As a first generation Canadian, often our voices are not heard or seen as significant. We did not suffer the trials of immigrating. It was our parents who made the journey and were seen as making the ultimate sacrifice. As I see it though, my parents’ immigration story is my story, their journey is my journey, their trials are my trials, their traumas are my traumas, their losses are my losses, their successes are my success, their faith is my faith. I am their legacy. They led by example, and I followed. I am the continuation of their story. I am their next chapter.

“I wrote about my dad. His journey was the “easiest” of my parents to write first. My mom’s is filled with more devastating loss that is still difficult to process and put into words. I called my story “Your name was Janez. Your name was John,” and it ended with me valuing him more and embracing myself more. I ended my story with “My name is Miriam. My name is Mirijam.”

“I am very grateful to Gayathri for presenting this challenge, for providing immigrant women the opportunity to share their stories of how they came to be here! Calgary, Canada. I feel more confident in my ability to write and in celebrating the gift of sharing. Hvala! Thank you!”

Miriam (Mirijam) Fabijan

Miriam is a Calgary-based artist of Slovenian heritage. Her artwork is autoethnographic. Her focused research and creative explorations are founded in her cultural heritage, personal narratives, self-reflection, and social insights. Her search for a sense of place, lineage, voice, language, and identity are central to her work. Fabijan has exhibited her artwork extensively across Canada and in Europe, including in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 1992, a year after Slovenia became an independent country. Instagram: @MiriamFabijan

Curious to learn more? Check out our story-crafting programs, the book Landed and Miriam Fabijan‘s work.

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