By Sandra Thomas
As community engagement facilitator at MONOVA: Museum of North Vancouver, Andisheh Fard says it’s important the North Shore’s Iranian community consider the Museum their own.
“We want the Museum to be reflective of their experiences,” says Andisheh. “We also want the Iranian community to reach out to us to share their ideas and stories.”
Deepening Connections to the Iranian Community
Andisheh partnered with the Museum in March 2021, along with historian and researcher Ardalan Rezamand, to explore ways to deepen MONOVA’s connection to the Iranian community of North Vancouver, which, according to the 2016 Canadian Census, includes more than 15,000 people and continues to grow.
“We want the Iranian community and other cultural communities of North Vancouver to feel a sense of belonging and inclusion,” says Andisheh. “The ethnic diversity of North Vancouver is so varied, we want to share the stories of the people of the North Shore community as a whole.”
To that end, MONOVA is dedicated to telling those stories, which focus on connections between Indigenous communities, long-term settlers and newcomers.
The Iranian community in North Vancouver has been growing steadily since the 1970s and the City and District have been enriched with the Iranian shops, restaurants, bakeries, services and celebrations that followed.
With the Iranian community continuing to grow, in 2012 the (then) North Vancouver Museum and Archives launched an initiative to capture some of their stories. The end result was an exhibit entitled, “Sharing Our Stories, an exhibit at the North Vancouver Museum and Archives,” which featured the oral histories and objects of 12 Iranians living on the North Shore. Those stories can still be heard online on the Archives Database (search for “Diversifying Histories” in the keyword field).
Our Stories: Iranian Community on the North Shore
Following on the success of that project and to help create better connections, this year MONOVA launched the “Our Stories: Iranian Community on the North Shore” campaign. “In terms of the Museum opening, we wanted to embed the Iranian community within that,” says Andisheh. “And, we want to continue to highlight the experiences of the Iranian community.”
Which is why Andisheh and Ardalan are hoping to connect with more members of the Iranian community on the North Shore. Andisheh hopes the Iranian community and all cultural groups of North Vancouver will be drawn to MONOVA.
“Given the new media used and the location, which is really at the heart of a lot of that community, and its proximity to The Shipyards, I think it will be popular,” says Andisheh. “I want them to go to the Museum and see the Iranian community featured in the new Permanent Gallery exhibit.
As for activities dedicated to the Iranian community in the Museum’s first months of operation, Andisheh notes that MONOVA is already hosting calligraphy demonstrations with Massoud Karimaei from Iranian Calligraphers Association of North America (ICANA) and has plans to further develop activities dedicated to the Iranian community.
Both Andisheh and Ardalan hope the buzz around the opening of MONOVA will draw more attention to the “Our Stories: Iranian Community on the North Shore” project and encourage more community members to reach out to us and get involved.
“We’re really committed to highlighting and sharing stories about the Iranian community on the North Shore that go beyond the typical stories you might find in a traditional museum,” says Andisheh.
Coming Soon to MONOVA
Discovery Sessions: Iranian Foodways Project – Earlier this year, a community-based research project was launched to promote cultural exchange and understanding of Iranian food traditions. Join Nazmi Kamal and members of the project team for an exploration on Iranian foodways and culinary traditions as a diasporic community in North Vancouver. Food tasting and refreshments will be available. Sunday, May 22, 2022 from 12:00pm to 3:00pm.
Have a story idea, old photographs or historic artifacts you’d like to share? Andisheh Fard and Ardalan Rezamand would love to hear from you. You can reach them by phone at 604-990-3700 (ext. 8007) or at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts. Your ideas and stories will help inform future programming and exhibits at MONOVA.
Now that the museum is open, we need your help to establish cultural and educational programs and exhibits that will contribute to an inclusive community and vibrant economy.
Help bring stories to life by making a donation today.
Donations are accepted through the Friends of the North Vancouver Museum & Archives Society, Registered Charity No. 89031 1772 RR0001.
We respectfully acknowledge that MONOVA: Museum and Archives of North Vancouver is located on the traditional lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, whose ancestors have lived here for countless generations. We are grateful for the opportunity to live, work and learn with them on unceded Coast Salish Territory.