Geographies of the Heart
280 pages, 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
Release Date:16 Sep 2024

Geographies of the Heart

Stories from Newcomers to Canada

UBC Press, Purich Books

A settlement worker recalls being a child soldier in Sudan; the child of undocumented migrants finds love in a coffee shop; a woman from Trinidad applies to over a hundred jobs; and a teacher from Afghanistan grapples with what it means to be a migrant in a colonized land.

In Geographies of the Heart, eighteen newcomers to Canada tell their own stories, in their own voices. These accounts push back against misconceptions about immigration and immigrants by revealing that the paths into Canada are as diverse as the people who journeyed them.

Canada itself plays a pivotal role in the collection, both as saviour and oppressor. The nation is a haven and place of opportunity, but also not entirely benevolent and welcoming.

This collection of stories provides a place where readers can challenge their own assumptions about Canada, immigrants, and refugees. Each story is framed by evocative questions to better connect the experiences of the writers and readers and invite critical thinking about topics related to migration.

In the face of both increasing migration around the world and growing xenophobia, Geographies of the Heart is a reminder of our shared humanity.

All royalties from sales of this book will be donated to Archway Community Services.

Canadians and people who are new to Canada, particularly those who work or are in community with migrants and refugees, will appreciate the bravery of the contributors in sharing their experiences and will come to a deeper understanding of what it is like to leave one’s country of origin behind to build a new life in another.

Newcomers are treasures of experiences, bearers of human heritage – stories, recipes, languages, perspectives, and philosophies – and this book is an antidote to the prevailing misconception that refugees are burdens to shoulder or threats to fear. From the Foreword by Ava Homa, author of Daughters of Smoke and Fire
What I love most about this collection of stories is how they are crafted … every newcomer/storyteller was put in the 'driver’s seat' when telling their stories … I call on settlement policy makers and leaders across the country to adopt a similar approach: when supporting immigrants and refugees to settle in Canada, let’s put them in the driver’s seat. Let’s do things with them and not for them. From the Afterword by Hamoudi Saleh Baratta, award-winning human rights advocate

Raymonde Tickner recently retired from teaching English language studies at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV). She has also taught in UFV’s TESL teacher training program and is an Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) facilitator. Raymonde has taught internationally in China and in India, and worked with Somalian refugees in Dubai during the first Persian Gulf War. She has also worked with refugees and immigrants in the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program in Surrey, British Columbia. She lives in Abbotsford.

Amea Wilbur is an assistant professor at UFV. She led Vancouver Coastal Health’s Access Community through English program, which helped people with chronic mental health issues learn English. She also developed a trauma-informed English as an Additional Language program at the Pacific Immigrant Resources Society that received national recognition. Amea is the co-author of The 6 Principles for Exemplary Teaching of English Learners. She lives in Vancouver.

Zahida Rahemtulla is a playwright and short story writer. She has worked in the immigrant and refugee non-profit sector for several years. Her father came as a refugee to Canada from Uganda, and her mother as an immigrant from Tanzania. Her stories have been shortlisted for the Alice Munro Award and longlisted for the CBC short story prize. She lives in Vancouver.

Kerry Johnson was an associate professor at UFV and now teaches professional English language development at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. She has also taught in UFV’s TESL teacher-training program and Vancouver Community College’s TESOL Certificate and Diploma program, and has developed classroom programs for students and produced workshops for instructors that provide practical strategies for teaching multilingual learners. She lives in Vancouver.

Foreword: Bearing Witness / Ava Homa



Part 1: Stories of Risk and Exile

1 “Passport, Please” / Akberet Beyene

2 Beyond the Mountain / Deea Badri

3 Saddam, the Fallen God / Diary Marif

4 What the Poppies Know / Shanga Karim

5 The Power of Perseverance / Muhialdin Bakini

Part 2: Stories of Change and Exploration

6 Decolonizing Forced Displacement / Sofia Noori

7 A New Form of Colonialism / Nuria Sefchovich

8 Licensed to Drive / Sushila Sharma

9 Becoming the Person I Admire / Yuki Yamazaki

Part 3: Stories of Belonging and Exclusion

10 Finding My Place / Ana I. Vargas

11 Amaluna / Angela Manetti

12 Canada Reimagined / Camille McMillan Rambharat

13 Travels to My Here and Now / Taslim Damji

Part 4: Stories of Displacement

14 Child Soldier / Albino Nyuol

15 An Uncertain Journey / Jummeiz Kambidi

16 Hiraeth / Malena Mokhovikova

17 A Journey to Safety / Rasha Haj Ibrahim

18 Between Two Worlds / Venera Loshaj-Balaj

Afterword: From Both Sides of the Desk / Hamoudi Saleh Baratta

Reader’s Guide, Further Reading, About the Authors

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