Stories told and objects not forgotten: an afternoon of storytelling.

Friday, June 18 at 12:00pm – 1:00pm

As we celebrate World Refugee Day 2021, MAP is proud to provide a platform to inspirational refugee speakers to share their stories at an event called: ‘Stories told and objects not forgotten: An afternoon of storytelling.’

 Be mesmerized by three wonderful individuals who share their journeys of migration and resilience at our event for World Refugee Day on June 18th from 12-1 pm.


Storytellers will share their journeys to Canada with a live follow up Q&A.

Three participants, Manuel, Maya and Zong May will weave their memories of something from their treasured past that has made a significant difference to their lives today. Their stories will demonstrate their success, disappointments, persistence and hard work, and those of their families. The magic of storytelling will leave you captivated and yearning to hear more about their journeys to Canada and what they left behind.

Manuel Gamas was born in Guatemala City along with his two older brothers. He came to Canada with his mom and his brothers as refugee claimants in 2000 when he was just 11 years old. Since then, he has long considered Vancouver his second home. Manuel eventually pursued his calling by becoming a youth worker and loves to share his stories with the community. He has many colourful stories and looks forward to sharing his own migration journey on June 18th.


Mahbubeh-Maya Mojtahed was a political prisoner in Iran where she was arrested along with her husband when she was 7 months pregnant. Her son was born and raised in prison for almost two years. She arrived in Canada along with her son as a refugee in the summer of 1992 where she has become an active member of the Iranian art community and an event programmer in Vancouver. She is going to bring her life story to the stage of the Fringe Festival after the pandemic.


Zong May was born in Myanmar and came to Canada in January 2012 after living in Malaysia for five years. She was 28 years old at the time and was accompanied by her family. When she flew to Canada, it was the first time she had ever been on an airplane. She recalls being dizzy and hungry as the food on the plane was completely unknown to her! After landing in Winnipeg, Zong May and her family relocated to Vancouver. The object she recalls and longs for is the loom and the traditional weaving she would do back in her home country. She will share how the loom as an object, represents her yearning to connect her children to the traditional practices of Myanmar and how she stays connected to her homeland as a refugee.

Friday June 18, at 12 pm – 1pm PST online

MAP invites you to join us at lunchtime as refugee speakers share a mixture of spoken word, poetry and story-telling, and chat with their hosts about the significance of their stories and where their lives are now. Perfect with your cup of tea!

The storytellers will be interviewed by their friends or co-workers, Thanh Lam and Richard Belcham.

Thanh Lam (she/they) lives on the unceded Coast Salish Territories and recognizes her position as an uninvited settler on these lands. Driven by her family’s lived experiences of war, torture, and forced migration as South Vietnamese refugees to Turtle Island/Canada, she has a lifelong commitment for refugee rights within a decolonization lens. In the past, Thanh has organized alongside undocumented migrant workers and past projects have included the creation of free, community ELL classes for undocumented residents. Thanh was also the Co-Chair of the Cultural Communities Advisory Committee with the City of Vancouver whose 2015-2017 term project was researching effective engagement strategies for underrepresented ethno-cultural groups. Currently, Thanh is pursuing a Master’s degree in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies at the Refugee Law Centre, University of London, UK.  

Richard Belcham is Executive Director of Inasmuch Community Society in Abbotsford and Co-Chair of MAP BC. Inasmuch provides transition housing, settlement services and customized employment support for refugee claimants in the Fraser Valley. He is a passionate advocate for refugee claimants and loves to remove barriers to service access, giving them the very best start to their new lives in Canada. He has an extensive background in HR, corporate communications and marketing. Originally from the UK, Richard immigrated to Canada in 2011 and has been a resident of the Fraser Valley ever since. Richard is also host of the Along the Way podcast featuring refugee stories.

You will play an important part to recreate the real feeling of being in a live storytelling event setting by connecting with the audience and sharing questions at the end.