Parcours Urbain Parc-Extension

Giving a voice to immigrant women in new urban exploration workshop

Photo: Organizer Nelly Daou alongside photographer Lobna Najar. Photo: Nelly Daou 

Many who live in Park Extension know how rich stories and meaning the streets and neighbourhood holds. The many waves of immigration over the past 70 years have brought many layers of experience and influence to a neighbourhood that is known for its multicultural social fabric.

A new program, hosted by local organization Singa Québec in association with Exeko, hopes to draw on that rich local knowledge by providing immigrant women with a space to explore their area and tell the stories of Park Extension.

Parcours Urbain is an urban exploration workshop that will call on immigrant women to explore the streets of Parc-Extension to share their knowledge of the neighbourhood and reflect on the social issues it faces. 

Parcours urbain

The workshops will run from Mar. 17 to Jun. 23 and will comprise various exploration and integration activities for immigrant women in Park Extension.

“We are planning 8 meetings with women from the Park Extension neighbourhood and the idea is to give a voice to people we don’t usually hear,” said Nelly Daou, intercultural mediator at Singa Québec and one of the organizers behind the workshop. 

“We want to create a safe space for exchange where women will be able to speak of their experiences in Park Extension, their lived experience in Park Extension and the locations and resources that are significant to them,” she continued.

The project will include creative activities such as writing workshops, photography classes and discussions with local change-makers and inspiring community actors.

Lobna Najar, Nelly Daou and Razan Elkhatib (left to right) are the women behind the new Parcours Urbain project. Photo: Nelly Daou

A circuit through the eyes of immigrant women

Taking place every two weeks, participants will gather at café La Place Commune on Querbes before taking to the streets to explore the locations that are most important to them. 

“The idea is to get to the end of the 8 meetings and have a set urban itinerary that can then be offered to the larger public,” explained Daou. “It will be an itinerary through the eyes of a group of women who live here, a vision of Park Extension,” she added.

Two professional photographers will also participate in the project, giving tips and tricks on using a camera so that the women can take photos and better express themselves.

The project hopes to create a space where women can foster new networks in the community and meet new people. Organizers are also offering financial compensation to those who participate, amounting to a $20 honorarium for each workshop. 

Singa Québec

Singa Québec is a non-profit organization with the mission of better integrating immigrant people into their new home country and creating opportunities for knowledge sharing. They are also financially supported by both the City of Montreal and the Government of Québec.

“The idea behind Singa Québec is to bring people from the host society and immigrants closer together,” explained Daou. 

“The idea behind All the activities we organize is to create links and create spaces that encourage social links and intercultural learning,” she continued.

The organization had previously worked on community initiatives in Park Extension. Notably, they organized Un rêve dans votre assiette, a program that integrated immigrant women into a restaurant kitchen and gave them the responsibility of developing a menu using their culinary knowledge and skills.  

“To give space to women that we often don’t hear, that is important for me. Giving a voice to women we don’t hear where we can get better representation and empowerment,”

Why Park Extension?

Although a similar project will also be underway in neighbouring Côte-des-Neiges, Singa Québec expressly chose Park Extension due to its high immigrant population and multicultural social makeup.

“Park Extension is an area that still experiences a lot of prejudice and is still very poorly understood,” said Daou on why the project would take place in Park Ex. “The idea for me and other mediators is to be in a humble posture of listening and learning,” she added.

“What interests me is creating spaces of expression and creativity,” continued Daou on what motivated her to participate. “To give space to women that we often don’t hear, that is important for me. Giving a voice to women we don’t hear and ensuring we can foster better representation and empowerment,” she explained. 

Women who are interested in participating can get more information and sign up on Singa Québec’s website. Although spaces are limited, organizers will keep slots open to new participants throughout the spring. Workshops will take place every second Thursday from 10:00 AM to 11:15 AM.

Women who are interested in participating can get more information and sign up on Singa Québec’s website. Photo: Singa Québec via Facebook