Honouring our Stories is a two-year digital storytelling and community arts-based project for women survivors of sexual violence funded by the Ontario Arts Council and Ontario Women’s Directorate Creative Engagement Fund to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment in Ontario. Honouring Our Stories is coordinated by the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre in partnership with Community Story Collective, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, and Thunder Bay Police Service with the goal to shift the public understanding of sexual violence.
The project is beginning year two, and so far, participants have shared their experiences through a series of art workshops led by Liz Buset, Zoe Gordon, Leanna Marshall, Lise Vaugeois, and Betty Carpick and created digital stories, facilitated by Community Story Collective. The digital stories and artwork by women and police officers will form an interactive public exhibition focusing on the resiliency, dignity, and human rights of survivors. The community curation of this art will help reframe the public conversation on sexual violence and challenge victim-blaming. Personal narratives are powerful and can speak directly from one person to another across differences of identity and social position. We hope to use these digital stories to engage police, the public and other service providers as allies against gendered violence, and bring the Thunder Bay community together to take action against sexual violence and harassment.
Community Story Collective’s Digital Storytelling workshops have allowed us to begin to bridge a perilous gap in our community: the disconnection between women experiencing sexual violence and the police officers who respond to that violence. Emmy and Jennifer have an amazing ability to take people to the kernel of their narrative. Their supportive approach means that people don’t hold back – most of our participants ventured to difficult places and themes that surprised us. Women and police participants were able to tell their own truths, their way, without judgement or censure. Both groups felt engaged and acknowledged. Having each group see the other’s stories brought everyone to another level of insight. Best of all, the resulting digital stories will allow us to continue this conversation with many others. Thank you, CSC!
Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre staff
I was able to use my old family pictures which triggered memories somewhat still, but I am glad my story is out finally in the public and I can ‘let go’ somewhat. It seems like sharing about the pain and struggle of the abuse was worthwhile- as it might help someone else to feel validated or educate people or change the judicial system. I hope it helps others in some way.
Digital Story participant
My favourite moment was when I became vulnerable on my first day of the digital story project. It opened my eyes to where I stand with my trauma. I have been on a journey ever since. I am not over or healed from the violence in my life but I am ready to talk about my violence and ready to have people listen.
Digital Story participant