By Zohreh Haghbin, New Voices Volunteer Program
MONOVA’s New Voices Volunteer Program started in September 2022 with a team of seven volunteers from various ethnic, cultural, and educational backgrounds. Through this 16 week program, volunteers worked closely with MONOVA staff and other newcomers to develop a community exhibit launching on February 20, 2023 in time for Family Day and BC Heritage Week.
The New Voices Volunteer Program aligns with MONOVA’s key goals and objectives to:
- Share the powerful stories of North Vancouver and its people.
- Engage community groups and encourage involvement.
- Deliver an exceptional event and exhibition developed by a team of newcomers to reflect North Vancouver’s diversity.
Through this program, volunteers used their skills and previous experiences to create, plan, and organize an exhibition. They collaborated in every aspect, from brainstorming to choosing the project, to planning the opening event.
Collaborating with Community
During the program, volunteers gain experience in working in a Canadian setting, get to know North Vancouver’s communities as well as MONOVA’s museum and archival collections, As a group, we visited galleries, museums and exhibitions as field trips to learn about curating and showcasing a project, and learned how to promote and organize events.
Collaboration is an important part of the program. Weekly meetings are arranged with MONOVA staff, professionals in the field, and community organizations to share knowledge and introduce and promote the exhibition.
Inspired by Oral Histories
The New Voices volunteers decided to work on a series of oral history interviews with a previous immigrants to North Vancouver. Each oral history interview focused on a different theme and idea. Each theme and topic was selected based on the personal preference and interest of the team member. Themes include:
- Sense of belonging
- Sense of a new place
- Food culture
- Public art
In conjunction with the oral history interviews, the New Voices volunteers captured each subject in a photograph reflecting their theme. The interview subjects are from diverse backgrounds that helps the program become richer. The project will culminate with the launch of an exhibition displaying both the oral history videos and photographs.
From Diverse Backgrounds
The New Voices team members are from diverse backgrounds in terms of age, gender, nationality, ethnicity, education, professional experience, and skills.
The team includes Zohreh, Mahshid, and Farhad from Iran, Eunyoung and Yewon from South Korea, Sherry from Hong Kong, and Hamad from Pakistan. All joined the program for a reason, but they could find a common purpose: to be the voice of untold stories of newcomers to residents of North Vancouver.
This program provided them with a great platform to share their stories as new immigrants, and to bring new perspectives to MONOVA, which seeks to engage, strengthen and inspire our community by exploring the past, present and future of North Vancouver and its people.
Voices of Diversity: North Vancouver’s Newcomers
The New Voices exhibition Voices of Diversity: North Vancouver’s Newcomers launches on Family Day, February 20 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at MONOVA: Museum of North Vancouver (115 West Esplanade).
Voices of Diversity tells the stories of seven newcomers to North Vancouver through photography and video. The exhibit explores themes such as belonging, food culture, sense of place, public art, photography, youth culture, and architecture from a newcomer’s perspective.
Admission to the Museum will be free on Family Day, February 20. Opening celebrations will feature performances by Indigenous storyteller Latash Nahanee and music by Cantopop-inspired Hong Kong buskers Belmont.
The exhibit will be on display at the Museum of North Vancouver until March 5, at which point it will move to MONOVA: Archives of North Vancouver (3203 Institute Road) from March 13 to July 28.
The New Voices Volunteer Program is generously supported by the Kitty Heller Memorial Fund, held at Vancouver Foundation, Deux Mille Foundation and Lohn Foundation.
We rely on contributions, monthly or one-time gifts, to help MONOVA safeguard and expand our community’s archival and museum collections, build learning experiences and inspire future generations.
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.