Photo by Josh Tanasichuk


Stories From An Immigrant Nation : Documentary Film Project

Building on the success of our ongoing I’ve Not Always Been Canadian project, we are now working to produce a series of short documentary films that further explore the evolving Canadian identity through the stories of new Canadians.

Click the link to view the film trailer: Stories From An Immigrant Nation

Working from the foundation that all who are not indigenous have family that came from somewhere else, and are part of Canada’s immigration story, we want to explore the challenges and successes of a growing, multicultural nation from the perspective of established immigrants, refugees and newcomers.

We invite you to follow along as this story unfolds before our cameras and to join in the conversation.


I’ve Not Always Been Canadian

A Travelling Exhibition On The Evolving Canadian Identity

If you happen to ask a newcomer to Canada, “Do you feel Canadian?”, be prepared for a host of different answers, because every immigrant’s and refugee’s path to integration is different and personal. What is the same, is that it can be daunting. In Phase I of the project “I’ve Not Always Been Canadian” ICA invited newcomers and established immigrants/refugees to share their stories of what it means to belong and to fully embrace a Canadian identity. This phase was facilitated by Artistic Director and Storyteller Lina de Guevara. We heard well over 100 stories. The stories were honest and moving accounts of the struggles and joys of settling into a new country. In Phase II of the project, local Photo-Journalist Quinton Gordon, worked with a select number of participants to translate these stories into portraits and short texts that give broader meaning to the idea of being Canadian. As part of Canada’s 150 year celebrations, our goal was to facilitate a deeper understanding of our community’s cultural, ethnic and religious diversity.

This Photo Exhibition is available to exhibit in venues throughout the Capital Regional District and across Canada.

Please contact Paulina Grainger, ICA Arts & Outreach Coordinator, for complete installation details and bookings:

Exhibition Installation: 15 Freestanding Banner Stands –  33.5 x 78.75 inches

I came to Canada alone when I was a teen, with no English. My idea of Canada was hockey, snow and maple syrup. It was not easy but the kindness of Canadians made me feel okay. If I say to you that I’m Canadian, I feel I’m lying. But my son was born here two years ago and I think that has started to change how I feel.” – Project Participant

ICA Project Coordinator & Producer: Paulina Grainger

Project Portrait Photographer: Quinton Gordon

Storytelling Facilitator: Lina de Guevara

Project Scribe: Jaimie Sumner

Archival Photographs by: Eduardo Bautista

This initiative was made possible by the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between the Victoria Foundation, the Government of Canada, and extraordinary leaders from coast to coast.ICA-Invite-Final

Everyone whose ancestors do not descend from this country is a settler. We, as caretakers of this land, have always been welcoming people with an open heart despite our colonial legacy and our near annihilation. It’s been about our beautiful resiliency, strong spirits and brilliant resourcefulness. Ironically, as a Kwakwaka’wakw woman who descends from this gorgeous island, I often feel I’ve not always been Canadian. Krystal Cook – Kwakwaka’wakw Nation

I’ve Not Always Been Canadian

Available to purchase as a 56 page, fully illustrated, softcover book.

All proceeds go to support ICA programs.

Click Here To Preview and Order

To View Project Photo Gallery Click On Thumbnail