Expressive Arts

Expressive arts helps participants express life stressors, trauma and experiences of migration through creative mediums. It is an effective means of reducing social isolation as it encourages clients to express themselves authentically while having their identity embraced by their peers.

Expressive arts can be particularly helpful to clients facing language barriers as it offers a medium of expression beyond verbal language. Access Alliance uses a variety of expressive arts mediums including visual arts, music, photo-voice, dance, spoken word, and embroidery to support the well being of community members.

Access Alliance has developed resources that share best practices in delivering expressive arts programming with newcomers to Canada.

Stepping up to the plate

The Stepping Up to the Plate Toolkit was developed to address issues of violence and community safety for Two Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, or intersex (2SLGBTQI+) newcomer, immigrant and refugee women. Best practices were based on two pilot expressive arts groups, one of which was specifically for trans-identified newcomer women of any sexual identity

The feedback throughout the pilot groups affirmed that the expressive arts program model outlined in our Promising Practices Tool Kit provides a space for participants to explore the impact of their experiences, discover creative coping mechanisms, and experience relief from the stressors in daily life. It also allows participants to safely practice and develop confidence with new skills, and draw on these skills to make changes in their lives.

Expressive Arts Groups

Arabic-Speaking Women’s Embroidery Group 

Visit our Online Art Gallery.

Access Alliance has been deeply involved in the response to the mass intake of Syrian Refugees to Canada, primarily in Toronto, through providing team-based primary care and community programs, such as this one. The aim of the Arabic-Speaking Women’s Embroidery Group was to:

  • help participants build a sense of community and connection to one another
  • foster a sense of connection to “home” through their embroidered artwork
  • encourage self-expression through textile making by telling visual stories about their lives
  • create opportunities for participants to use embroidery to share their stories with Canadians

Tatriz: Traditional Embroidery with Arabic Speaking Women
With the influx of Syrian refugees in 2016, Access Alliance was on the front line providing health and settlement services. Many refugees from the region arrived with a history of trauma and loss and there was an urgent need for accessible mental health programs. This video demonstrates how Access Alliance answered the call using art therapy and the medium of traditional embroidery.

This video was produced in partnership with the Community Integration Network, a program of the Catholic Centre for Immigrants.