EP (33) Gracia Dyer Jalea: Building An Innovative Hub To Share The Diverse Stories of Toronto's Immigrant Community

 

Remembering our past and where we come from is a key component to uncovering who we are.

That's just one of the reasons, Gracia Dyer Jalea and her Co-founders (all six of them) decided to create Toronto Ward Museum.

As a collective, they felt strongly that Toronto needed to uncover and share the multitude of stories that helped build the city. Toronto is home to 20% of Canada's immigrant population, with over 180 languages and dialects spoken throughout the city.

The big idea is that Toronto Ward Museum will serve as a cultural institution 'that strengthens our understanding of immigration history through innovation in interpretation and public engagement.'

They are making a name for themselves by offering programming across the GTA, as well as having immigrants co-develop and co-deliver some of the programming. It allows their offerings to really connect with people across the city and share their stories with as much authenticity as possible.

As the Director, Gracia is most proud of the people that are helping to shape the Toronto Ward Museum. Everyone is extremely dedicated to the tasks at hand and connected to what they are trying to build. And for her, that is the most rewarding part of this journey.

On a more personal note, she also grew up in Toronto with immigrant parents, who came to Canada from the Philippines. They sacrificed a lot for their family, and re-built from scratch when they moved to Toronto. One of the mainstays of her childhood was hearing the many stories her grandparents would share with her and her siblings about their own childhoods and upbringing; and she knew she wasn't alone in this experience.

It is the vision of all the co-founders, that by focusing on personal narratives, 'they will be able to build bridges between individuals, communities and generations by reflecting on the shared experiences that have motivated migration to Toronto, while recognizing that their lived experiences, have and continue to shape the city!'

Toronto Ward Museum - Inaugural Partner Meeting

Toronto Ward Museum - Inaugural Partner Meeting

SOME QUESTIONS I ASKED:

  • Where did this idea for Toronto Ward Museum come from?
  • Why did you choose to call it that?
  • What was it like growing up in Toronto with immigrant parents?
  • Did you ever personally feel a disconnect to the city?
  • How did you get interested in oral history and sharing stories of our past?
  • How did you manage to find six co-founders with the same vision?
  • Why is this so important to all of you to create?
  • How are you funding the museum?
  • What does the process look like when building a museum?
  • Is this idea based off of another museum from a different country?
  • And so much more...

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN: 

  • Why passion is so important to have when starting something from scratch
  • How to working (successfully) with multiple co-founders
  • How to build bridges between people, community and institutions
  • What it takes to get a museum off the ground
  • What it means to have a "museum without walls"
  • Their big vision for the museum and what legacy Gracia hopes to leave behind
  • Why it's so important to have a support system in place when you are taking the entrepreneurial leap
  • And lots more!!

OTHER LINKS:

CONNECT WITH toronto ward museum

INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

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Edited by: James Nicholson