Sculpture | Video |  Installation  Series : 

   WE ARE ALL WATER : STORIES OF NEW IMMIGRANTS TO CANADA

Jackie Bagley, offspring of an immigrant and a refugee, presents a video documentary and sculpture installation exploring the stories of some of Canada’s new citizens from other countries – Sudan, Cambodia, Columbia, China, Hong Kong, Cuba, Japan,  Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia.

“We are all water from different rivers,That’s why It’s so easy to meet

  We are all water in this vast vast ocean, Some day we’ll evaporate together.” 

                         

 (Yoko Ono) 

The installation showcases sculptural portraits of each person in clay. With each portrait we hear the stories on a small digital device. In a full room, the stories flow like rivers of water. The base mountings of the portraits are broken stone, reflective of the breaking away from a home country. Mounting posts are water pipes.
 

The directive for this installation is to present the familiarity of we, as a people, regardless of where we come from - we are all rivers that flow into the same ocean, we evaporate together. 

From One of the “Lost Boys of Sudan”, to a former inhabitant of the childrens’ camps in Cambodia during Pol Pot’s regime, to a Punk Band member from a small village in the mountains of Japan, are the stories : heart wrenching stories, exhilarating stories, stories that are familiar and those that are unexpected;
 

An examination of what was lost, what was gained, and of the challenges they faced in a new country. They present as short mini-documentaries with original sound tracks, and one “overview” documentary that introduces us to the people in the documentary stories.  

Meet the people who make up the stories of We Are All Water.

Water connects and flows the stories.  12:37

Mini Documentary : Ajack : Southern Sudan

This animated slide show takes you through the process of creating the sculpture portraits and video documentaries. It's clickable for a quicker view. (animated11:25)

Mini Documentary : Mana : A small village in N. Japan

The Stories

Languages |  Arabic +  English + Native African Language

Ajack | S. Sudan + Refugee Camp in Kenya 

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Ajack is one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan”.

 

During the onset of the civil war, his father thought he was delivering Ajack to school, in Ethiopia. At the age of 10,

Ajack traveled with thousands of other young boys, for three months without adequate food, water, shoes or safety, dodging the dangers of wild animals, hostile tribes, and intense desert heat. On their arrival, those who had survived discovered they were delivered into the hands of the rebels, the older ones recruited as child soldiers. After the communist government in Ethiopia collapsed, thousands of boys who were still left, began the journey to a refugee camp in Sudan near the Ugandan border, and later a refugee camp in Kenya, called “Kakuma”, notorious for malnutrition and violence.

 

Through an NGO Ajack was able to go to school, and later selected to study abroad in his area of choice, through a program called “WUSC”. He chose International Relations, here in Calgary, in hopes of being able to one day improve the conditions in the refugee camp back in Kenya. At the time of my meeting Ajack, he had a young wife, recently married on a visit back to the camp. By the time we finished the documentary and his portrait, his young wife finally arrived in Canada with their 2 year old daughter whom he had never met.

“I have been helped all along the way, and God has used people to help me.

Iʼm sure that was the reason - thatʼs why I went through all this. Itʼs not just for me.

Even if it is one person that I give hope to that will be inspired, thatʼs what I look forward to.”

Dayami | Cuba

Languages |  Spanish + French + English

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Dayamiʼs dream of becoming a Naval Engineer led her to

attend military school in Cuba. As a result she met Fidel

Castro in person and carefully guards a photograph of that

meeting. She feels that somehow the truth about Castro is "somewhere in between" what we know and what she has experienced. She cites the many good things he had done for quality of life in Cuba.

 

One of her favorite possessions is a hand-embroidered

pillow, her only wedding gift, explaining that gifts are not normally given, due to the poverty in Cuba.

 

Raised by her mother and grandmother, Dayami lives in

Canada with her Canadian husband, and 2 young children.

She teaches Languages in the Private School System. Her

childhood dream was to be an actress.

“No matter what, you always have to find time for people.

They are the most important thing.”

Xiue | Small Village in Northern China

Languages |  Mandarin + N. Mandarin Dialect + English

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By the age of 29, Xiue was promoted 7 times, as a

Pharmacist in Southern China. As head of 4 Pharmaceutical

locations, she was sent to Hong Kong to successfully

prepare another one for certification.

 

She comes from a family of farmers in northern China, and by competition, and with an adventurous spirit, studied at a University in Southern China, where she met her husband.

 

Her husbandʼs dream of pursuing his doctorate in Canada where pharmaceuticals are years ahead of his home country in

China, has led the couple to take up permanent residence

in Canada, and build a new life for their now 2 young children.

Xiue was surprised to discover that her University degree

was not recognized here, and at the time of this documentary series, she had been unable to secure a job in her field. She was completing a Masters degree in Business, worked part-time so that their family had an income, and shared the

responsibilities of child and home care with her husband.

“My Strength, is now my weakness” (referring to her struggle to communicate with the English language, when communication was her strength in China.)

Pol | Cambodia + Bulgaria (refugee)

Languages |  Khmer + Frech + Bulgarian + English

Pol grew up in the "child torture camps" as he called them, during the Pol Pot regime. 

Being one of only 10 in Cambodian chosen at that time, he qualified for a post-secondary education which he chose to take in Bulgaria. There he finished a Law degree. 

 

When communism fell with the fall of the Berlin wall, he fled Bulgaria as a refugee and found himself at the German border - he decided against a scholarship he had been given to study law in England and made his way to Canada instead.

After many difficulties finding work, Pol began working for Immigration Services, receiving awards for the counseling and work he carried out with new Immigrant families, especially in the areas of family violence and abuse. He is an Ambassador for United Way. At the time of this documentary series, he had just completed his Masters Degree in Social Work. Only a few years later he passed away.

 

He had concentrated his efforts on high risk immigrant teens where he felt he could make a greater impact for change. 

“We need to create the knowledge that heals oneself, not create the knowledge that kills oneself.

The bottom line is Healing.”

“We must see progress in the next generation – this is why I do what I do – if I see that it makes a difference, that something is progressing.”

Melaku | Ethiopia

Languages |  Amharic + English

Melaku comes from a small village in Ethiopia, with no

electricity or clean water. As a child he received an

education in the city where his older brother was living. By

the time he reached high school, the Communist Military

Government overtook the King, and openly eliminated tens

of thousands who were seen as a threat to the new rule;

mostly young students like himself.

 

Melaku describes two narrow escapes and eventually his escape from the country itself into a neighboring refugee camp.

 

After almost 9 years in 2 different refugee camps, and living off only 1 - 2 bowls of rice a day, Melaku was granted immigration into Canada.

Now, more than 20 years later, he was given private audience with the Federal President of Ethiopia, and awarded 8,000 acres of free land, to establish a self-sufficient orphanage for the millions of AIDS and poverty orphans in Ethiopia.

For the past 20 years he had communicated his orphanage

dream and now has a large team of professionals who

have helped to orchestrate this project.

Melaku works as a Janitor in a High School.

 

See: http://www.hopethiopia.com/#/index.php

for more information on the orphanage project.

“Africa has received a lot of aid but it hasnʼt made a change.

 

So the easiest way to make a change is to change the young….Ethiopia has one of the highest numbers of orphans in Africa (4.5 million). To change Africa we need to raise Africans in the mindset like the West so that the mindset will change the future face of Africa.

 

This is my vision.. and my passion. To pull Africa out of poverty, we need to raise responsible leaders…. Africa can do a lot for itself. We want to be a producer of good African citizens.”

Alejo | Equatorial Guinnea + France

Languages |  4 African Languages + Spanish + French +                              English

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Alejo comes from a large family, in a small village near the

ocean. His father was a Carpenter. At a young age Alejoʼs

father died, and the family continued on with great difficulty

through poverty until his mother re-married a Fisherman.

 

At 20 years of age, Alejo was selected as one of only 12

students in his country, to study in France. His dream was to

work as a Government Diplomat in order to return to his

country to create positive changes. He met and married a

fellow student from Madagascar, who became an Electrical

Engineer.

They are now both recent immigrants to Canada with hopes

of making that their final home. Alejo continues to apply to

the Alberta Government each year with high hopes of

working for the Alberta Government, but recognizes that his

lack of command of the English language could be to his

detriment.

Yvonne | Columbia

Languages |  Spanish + Italian + English

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Yvonneʼs passion is Dentistry, having run a successful

private practice in Columbia, and teaching her expertise in

TMJ at a Columbia University. She studied both in Italy and

in Columbia, with additional Health Management courses in

Texas.

 

Yvonne moved to Canada with her husband and young son, to

escape the growing and frequent dangers of the cruel Mafia

kidnappings, and the growing lack of security in their homes,

and on the streets. Upon arrival in Canada, Yvonne worked

out of necessity at Subway, and her Coca-Cola-Marketing Executive husband worked at Starbucks.

Yvonne's degree and experience is not recognized in Canada, and she hopes to one day be able to move to a province where she can upgrade and practice once more. Funds however prohibit this possibility.

Yvonne was raised by her mother, and her unorthodox/progressive grandmother, who taught Yvonne to

embrace life at a young age. Yvonne loves people. For her, relationships are the most important thing in life.

“Beauty is something that shines from the eyes, not what you look like”.

“Life is about people”.

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Mana | Small Village in Japan

Languages |  Japanese + English

Mana comes from a small village in the mountains born to 

a family of organic rice farmers. As a child her schoolhouse

taught all grades in one classroom, and she dreamt of one

day traveling the world. She found the pressures of conformity difficult to live with. 

At the time of this documentary installation she had recorded 2 albums with her Punk Band, made up of childhood school friends.

She studied to be a Sous chef and found a job in Canada on the internet.

Living in Canada has inspired her to study International Relations and in her words "work towards world peace".

“I want to be “peace maker”, but I am “trouble maker (laughter)".

Each portrait exhibits with a story summary (on the wall), and a digital device running the mini-doc of the story. In a full room, the stories flow like rivers of water, a cocophany of sound.