To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, Streets of Canada, a Peterborough-based initiative is featuring a collection of short stories and photographs capturing the spirit of business owners, artists, and unsung heroes from coast to coast.
The project was created by Peterborough tech entrepreneurs, Sana Virji and Ribat Chowdhury, who realized that while much was being planned to honour Canada’s history, it seemed little was being done to celebrate Canadians today.
“Among the celebrations of Canada’s accomplishments and history, we want to honour the present and the people all around us today and reflect the diversity of the people who make up this country,” said Virji.
Since launching last November, Virji and Chowdhury have been traveling across Canada to showcase the vibrant personalities of individual Canadians. The result of these efforts is now a vibrant catalogue of photographs featured alongside quotes and anecdotes published on the Streets of Canada’s website and social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
“No matter what the story, you feel a sense of connection to the person narrating, whether it’s the Peterborough Syrian refugee family who opened a restaurant, the Montreal busker who is fighting a city by-law, or the Winnipeg activist who grew up in foster care. These are the people we interact with every day, and their stories are inspirational, honest, and show Canada’s diversity and acceptance,” adds Virji.
Virji, a native of Pakistan, and Chowdhury, originally from Bangladesh, came to Canada five years ago when they won scholarships to study at Trent University. With little savings, they struggled to make ends meet while attending university and worked part-time to manage living expenses.
“I came to Canada in 2012 with only $100 in my pocket. Where I am today is a testament of who Canadians are,” said Chowdhury. “Throughout my journey, somebody came forward to help me. Never before have I seen such acceptance and generosity. Streets of Canada is our way of showing gratitude to the exceptional people who make up this country.”
Streets of Canada is on a mission to show that Canada is more than just hockey and maple syrup. They plan to collect and share 1,000 stories of Canadians from all walks of life—who they are, what drives them, their hopes, their fears, their past, and their pride. The project has already reached 750,000 Canadians online and is gaining momentum as nominations pour in from across the country.
To help Streets of Canada reach its goal, nominate an entrepreneur, artist, or anyone who you think has a great story to tell at www.streetsofcanada.com/nominate. An individual can also nominate themselves and share their own story.