The University of Winnipeg



Seeking young Afghan refugees to share their stories

The Afghan flag

The Afghan flag

WINNIPEG, MB – Afghanistan has been at war for over three decades causing thousands of people to flee their country and make Canada their new home. Researchers at UWinnipeg’s Oral History Centre are currently documenting the experiences of young people from Afghanistan who have fled and eventually settled in Winnipeg. This project is being led by Allison Penner, a recent UWinnipeg graduate and researcher at the Oral History Centre.

“Stories of refugees have traditionally been excluded from Canadian history books,” explained Dr. Alexander Freund, professor of history and co-director of the Oral History Centre. “Media and public perceptions are often skewed because they don’t report the voices of refugees such as those coming from Afghanistan.”

“Through this project, we want to create lasting documents that historians can use to write about this immigrant experience in textbooks and articles,” said Penner.

Participants have the option to share life experiences in audio-recorded oral history interviews and then donate their life stories to the new digital archive at the Oral History Centre. The digital storytelling component will also allow participants to create a short video about their experiences if they are interested.

“When participants record their life story, they have the chance to review and edit it before it is placed in an archive,” explained Penner.

“While oral histories can be quite time intensive, digital storytelling is another great way to inform the Canadian public about the experiences of refugees from Afghanistan from the perspective of the newcomers themselves,” said Freund.

The Oral History Centre trains participants in how to select, write, and narrate a digital story. Participants learn how to storyboard, select images and music, and use video editing software to create a digital story. A similar project with the children of survivors of Indian Residential Schools is currently underway at the Oral History Centre. The project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Manitoba Heritage Grants Program.

Penner is looking for participants. If you are a refugee from Afghanistan or a neighbouring country and would like to create an oral history or digital story, please contact her at or 204-330-4282 or 204-786-9009.

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