Skip to main content Skip to local navigation

CRS Seminar: Singing my own story: Exploring intersections of displacement, resistance, and creative-arts in the lives of refugee children and young people

January 24, 2024


This is a hybrid event

In person: 626 Kaneff Tower, York University, Keele Campus

By Zoom:

Through processes of displacement, forced migration, and (re)settlement, the voices of children and young people are often silenced, their stories and lived experiences about their own diverse and layered experiences with displacement, migration, and settlement are seldom, if ever, heard. As such, this seminar will focus on examining how creative-arts can be used as a space for children to speak-back and share their stories, and to highlight the need for a global focus on arts-based practices that support the immediate needs of displaced children and youth. We will explore how musical collaboration, community music-making, photography, and storytelling can support young people’s wellbeing, cultural and individual resiliency, and connection during and after displacement, migration, and (re)settlement. We will also focus on how children and young people can use their songs, stories, photos, and voices as a tool of resistance by challenging dominant narratives on trauma, resilience, and integration. 


Andrea Emberly, Tariq Habibyar, Nadeen Abu Shaban, Esmaeel Abofaker, Rahaf Alakbani, Sohaila Khaliqyar.


Andrea Emberly is an ethnomusicologist, a York Research Chair in Children’s Musical Cultures, and an Associate Professor in the Children, Childhood & Youth program at York University. Her research focuses on the study of children’s musical cultures, exploring how children and young people access, innovate, and mobilize musical arts practices within and beyond their communities.  

Nadeen Abu Shaban is a dedicated humanitarian with extensive experience leading programs locally within the Non-profit sector and internationally with organizations such as the United Nations and USAID in the Middle East. Her commitment to positive change is evident in her career journey. Having earned a Master of Arts in Humanities from York University, specializing in Children, Childhood, and Youth studies, Nadeen is now actively pursuing her PhD in the same field. Her research centers on the relationship between art-based activities and healing among young refugee and newcomer communities. 

Now a Canadian citizen, Sohaila Khaliqyar came to Canada as a refugee from Afghanistan in 2017. She is passionate about breaking down barriers through social and digital communications and storytelling. Sohaila has an MA from the Communication and Culture program at York University and is continuing her graduate studies at York University by pursuing a Ph.D. in Humanities. Because she is also interested photovoice as a research method as well as writing and photography, Sohaila’s doctoral research involves investigating how women and children represent themselves through storytelling in digital media.

Rahaf Alakbani is a multi-talented singer, social worker, and community builder hailing from Syria. Since settling in Canada in 2016, she has been actively involved in various local programs and gigs. She is the founder of the Haneen Women Choir, coordinates the Children Empowerment Program at the University of Toronto, and recently completed her MA in humanities at York University. 

Esmaeel Abofahker is a talented musician and composer originally from Syria, now based in Toronto, Canada. With a passion for the Bozok (a traditional Syrian instrument), Esmaeel has dedicated years to mastering the craft of playing and composing on this instrument. Currently, Esmaeel is pursuing a PhD in Humanities at York University where he is exploring the intersections of music, culture, and society. Esmaeel is interested in understanding how music can be used to foster cross-cultural understanding and promote social justice.

Dr. Tariq Habibyar is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LA&PS) at York University. His current research is a collaboration with Afghan refugee youth and children to explore the role of music and storytelling in shaping their evolving identities in Canada. His research delves into how Afghan children make sense of their musical identities within new communities and contexts amidst processes of displacement and resettlement. Tariq holds a PhD from the University of Canterbury, an MA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a BA from Herat University. 


Jan 24 2024


12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
QR Code