The Women in Health project first emerged from informally planned ‘coffee shop dates’ starting in 2013 by a collective of African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) women working as front-line service providers, researchers, and counsellors in Toronto's health sector. These spaces were essential for creating a safe environment to discuss work-related stress and share resources for dealing with these challenges.
Research demonstrates that interventions are needed to help Black women express their reactions to work-related stress; empower them to voice their experiences from marginalized positions in social relations; and expose everyday acts of oppression and resistance. This project builds upon existing research through the act of sharing our individual stories and experiences, and the creation of digital stories.
In order to develop the project, we recruited other ACB women working in the health sector. In total 14 of us gathered once every three weeks from June to November, 2015 at a local library in the GTA. In this space we employed circle discussions, which takes directly from our orative cultures and African traditions, to collectively explore our experiences. We also partook in a weekend intensive digital storytelling workshop led by the creative direction of our sister in spirit Anique Jordan. Through this process of engaging in story circles and creating digital stories, we covered topics such as racialized sexism, health, wellbeing, self care, intergenerational and vicarious trauma, colonialism and coping - to name a few. In total, 5 digital stories were created, along with a brief community report. We are also in the process of thematically analyzing and writing about some of the findings from this collaborative process.
Digital storytelling is an arts-based approach that allows for research to be more accessible to different audiences. Digital stories consist of short (3-5 minute) videos and visual narratives that combine images, video, audio recordings of voice, music, and text to create compelling accounts of experience. This approach has roots in the Black Civil Rights struggles and promotes personal reflection, collegial connectivity, creativity and the employment of familiar media methodologies.
This video was created by Marvelous and sheds light on the complex and emotional issues touched on in our digital stories and conversations.
The Women in Health Project was funded by the Women's Xchange, trusteed and administratively supported by BrAIDS for AIDS.