“The Living Library: Immigration and Integration” is a project being organized in Fredericton as a two-way platform to both allow people to share their compelling stories of integration in New Brunswick, while also simultaneously letting people learn about other cultures by asking questions in a safe environment.
People will have the chance to be a “living book” or a “reader" on June 21, during the First Night of the Garrison Market, or June 23 on the second day of the 2018 Cultural Expressions Festival.
The idea of the “Living Library: Immigration and Integration” was discussed by a group who took part in a four-week workshop, Economic Immigration Lab, presented by the Pond Deshpande Centre at UNB.
The Lab focused on the topic of bringing more immigration to the Atlantic provinces, specifically New Brunswick.
The group, including Sebastián Salazar, Tiziana Zevallos, Leticia Leon de Gante, Lisa Bamford De Gante, Diluckshnie Jayawardena and Nicolas Bertrand, worked on a cross-cultural toolkit to propose different ways for immigrants, newcomers and locals to interact.
“What we are finding out is that there is a goodwill for people to meet, there is just no time or place,” said Salazar.
Salazar currently works as the Community Liaison for the City of Fredericton where he coordinates projects related to cultural diversity and social inclusion. He is also a member of the 2018 Cultural Expressions Festival Committee.
Last year Salazar participated in a “Living Library” focused on homelessness and housing insecurity coordinated by a Community Action Group at STU and he was inspired by the effectiveness and success of the event.
“When you go to multicultural events, it’s pretty much you see the dance, listen to the music, eat the food and then you leave. The Living Library was one element of a cross-cultural toolkit created by our group to add different dynamics to the events,” said Salazar.
Members of the Fredericton community can get involved as “living books”, ushers or time-keepers. A survey has been shared where people have to indicate their preferred position by April 1.
The “living books” would be people who want to tell their stories about immigrating or as refugees, the sacrifices that they had to go through, the level of integration they feel that have or have not achieved and why.
Applicants will go through a screening process through which the organising team will select the “living book" based on their ease of communication and willingness to share their stories.
Each “living book” will be presented to the readers with the title of the person's story. The latter will get to pick the story they find most interesting and have a twenty minute conversation to learn as much as they want.
A reader could have an extra twenty minutes if there is no one waiting to check out the same “book”.
“We are realizing and finding out that people are afraid or don't know how to ask questions,” said Salazar.
In order to ensure a respectful space, the “living books” will undergo a training and the readers will have some guidelines to follow.
The application to be a “living book”, usher or time keeper is due by April 18.
Disclosure: Tiziana Zevallos, part of the Economic Immigration Lab group, is a reporter with The Brunswickan.
- The EIL is not organizing the Living Library; the cross-cultural toolkit (Living Library is part of this) is a product of the EIL group.
-Living Library is being organized by the Multicultural Association, the City of Fredericton and the Public Library.