PCHC-MoM Special Event

Banquet of Stories 2021

Event: Banquet of Stories 2021

Date: October 23rd (Saturday) / 1:30pm – 5:30pm

Registration: Register on eventbrite

During the pandemic, we have moved our educational programming to a virtual platform, and continue to gather and share stories of Pacific Canada. Due to popular demand, we are hosting our Banquet of Stories again, but this time it will take a hybrid form with a reduced in-person event plus an expanded virtual component. For examples of our past Banquets and webinars, please check out our video recordings on our Youtube Channel.

Banquet of Stories (BoS) 2021 will put a spotlight on refugee stories. For the first time, we will explore the themes of community/personal resilience and sustainable food practices. Our event will have two separate in-person sessions, as well as a virtual component where individuals can watch the event live-streamed. Scroll below to read about our storytellers.

Usually, our storytellers would bring some food from their culture to share as an ice-breaker and springboard to telling their migration stories. In light of COVID restrictions and public health concerns, however, this time we will not have food sampling on site, but we will offer special limited Banquet of Stories food booklets. These booklets will promote local businesses, offer educational information on different cultural foods, as well as recipes from our storytellers.

Due to COVID restrictions, the event will feature two separate in-person sessions, as well as a virtual component. Virtual attendees will have access to the event’s entire livestream. In-person attendees will attend at staggered times: the first group from 1:15 – 3:15pm, the second at 3:30 – 5:30pm.

Event Schedule:

1:15PM: Group 1 check-in

1:30PM: Opening

2:00PM – 3:15PM: Hear from three of our storytellers

3:15PM: Group 1 exits


3:30PM: Group 2 check-in

3:45PM: Hear from three of our storytellers

5:00PM: Closing panel – sustainability and resilience

5:30PM: Event ends and group 2 exits



Hassan Al Kontar was a young Syrian living and working in the UAE. In 2011, he was trapped at the Kuala Lumpur Airport when he refused to return to Syria for compulsory military service but was unable to obtain a visa for any other country.  Exiled by war and trapped by geopolitics, Al Kontar used social media and humour to tell his story to the world, becoming an international celebrity and ultimately finding refuge in Canada.


Hieu Pham-Fraser and her family left Vietnam after the country’s civil war ended and their homeland was no longer safe for them. She was part of the group of mass ‘boat people’ exodus the media in the early 1980’s. Today, Hieu is a Vice-Principal for the Vancouver School District and her passion for equity and inclusion is what drives her to serve her school community each day.


Ayesheh Baloch was born in Kabul and is originally from Nimroz Province, Afghanistan.  She came to Canada with her three daughters and son in 2003. Ayesheh is a dressmaker and has worked as seamstress in fashion and bridal stores.  She is currently trying to start a self-employment program to get some support to start a business.


Kuol Akuechbeny resettled to Canada from Kenya through World University Service of Canada (WUSC) Student Refugee Program scholarship that sponsored academically strong refugee students from camps, giving them post-secondary education and resettlement opportunities in Canada. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Operations & Logistics and a Minor in Law & Society from the University of British Columbia.


Abdul Samim is an Afghan Canadian who immigrated to Canada in early 2021. He is a former diplomat, university professor and news presenter.  Samim is passionate about helping newcomers and has been serving the immigrant and refugee population in BC for over 18 years providing settlement and integration services.


Shanga Karim was a journalist and women’s activist in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq, editor-in-chief for a women’s rights newspaper that focused on violence against women, honour killing, and female genital mutilation. She holds a B.A. in Media Studies, came to Canada in 2015 and participated in The Shoe Project writing workshop. Shanga has performed her story at three different universities and events.

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