“Govier astonishes throughout in her ability to write epic themes intimately.” Publishers’ Weekly
The Shoe Project Meets the ‘Waterlilies’
The next morning I had breakfast with Nan Poole and Caroline Adderson, my fellow writing and performance mentors. We had worked together with the group on zoom during that time. The sun was brilliant and the river glittered, half iced. It was all so familiar, reminding me of Edmonton where I grew up- the river valley, the bridges, the wide blue sky, the puffy round Joni Mitchell clouds.
Maliha came to see me first, calm and confident, one of the “elders” of the group, in her mid-twenties, a sociology grad and a journalist in Kabul when the Taliban took the city. The others began to arrive around four pm. I could not stop my tears from falling. We’d seen their faces, pinched and fearful, on our screens. We’d listened to their stories of before the fall, escape, and exile. We had helped them express their hopes for the future, in those long dark days, seen them keep their dreams alive. And here they were! Smiling and free, under the prairie sky. Younger, somehow, than they had been. Some had gone into grade twelve and were loving it. Friba, the artist, Geti, the budding politician, Fazila the martial artist, Shekiba, Marwa, vocal Malika, quiet Parwin.
The young women have a doorway to freedom from harm, to purpose, to life. But the way will not be easy. During the jubilation as they collected signatures on the little book of their stories we had printed, I saw one twisting her hands and grimacing in fear for her family left behind. They have been rescued and will in turn be rescuers. It is a huge task. My heart swells.
All through this wonderful day of ‘reunion’ with young souls who had flickered on and off our screens, with bad internet and worse electricity, I felt it. The Enigma of Arrival, as V.S. Naipaul wrote. The possibilities, the future one can make. The way life takes us forward, in circles. My grandfather arrived in this province one hundred and twelve years ago, my grandmother not long after. I was eighteen once, preparing for my future, crossing back and forth over a majestic Saskatchewan river. One arrives to a place and a time, and a door opens.
THE SHOE PROJECT
Katherine started The Shoe Project in Toronto in 2011. She knew newcomer women had much to give to Canada but were often sidelined by lack of writing and speaking skills in English.
Art In Fiction