Storytelling is a powerful tool for communities to speak their truths and spread their knowledge to others. Unfortunately, many communities across Canada and around the world aren’t given a chance to have their voices heard on the stories affecting them.
Earlier this year, we had the pleasure of talking to Somia Sadiq, the founder of Narratives Inc, who won this year’s ECO Impact Top Employer category!
Narratives Inc. strives to amplify voices of communities and organizations. Narratives looks to deliver their services from a place of respect, reciprocity, and reverence for the communities they work with, celebrating different knowledge systems and ways of being.
“We create a space to amplify the voices of marginalized communities that would otherwise go unheard. To amplify a voice, we need to ensure we don’t become the voice. It’s working with the community to find what their voice looks like and what their messages are and creating space for them to be the ones to talk about the message while we stay in the background.”
This approach has allowed the team at Narratives to build meaningful connections with many Indigenous communities across the country and offer their services.
Since 2017, Narratives has grown significantly and are looking to have a team of 30 in-house plus over a dozen Advisors and Community Coordinators by May 2022, all with different experiences and backgrounds.
“I’m just really proud of everyone on the team, brilliant people, awesome human beings who I’m just really honoured that they chose to put their trust in Narratives and chose to be part of the journey.”
The team’s diversity means there’s a wealth of knowledge at their disposal. This allows them to tackle a variety of challenges, approach projects from many different angles and come up with different solutions.
The nature of their work requires these unique approaches. Real engagement with marginalized communities, particularly Indigenous communities in Canada, has been lacklustre at best and nonexistent at worst.
Narratives take a different approach, putting communities first and having them take the lead on projects.
Since 2019, Narratives has played a crucial role in working with Niiwin Wendaanimok and supporting the development of the Harmonized Impact Assessment Model for the TransCanada Twinning Project. Under this project, traditional Anishinaabe knowledge was braided with western science, with the outcome being an impact statement rooted in the Manito Aki Inakonigawin – The Great Law, a first for impact assessment in Canada.
“Our approach is holistic. There is no such thing as a mould of how to do things. We approach our projects with a lot of creativity and innovation and look at what makes the most sense. We don’t have a template for what an impact assessment should look like. It’s creating space for communities to define it and how they want to communicate the impact on their culture, their spirituality and their socioeconomic world.”
Through Narratives’ many different projects, the organization has helped to build meaningful relationships with numerous communities. We asked Somia if there was a favourite project that she and the team had worked on; unsurprisingly, there wasn’t just one favourite!
“They’re all just so powerful, so incredible, and those relationships are so valuable to us. I can’t pick a favourite. There are so many different things we learn from every community, every initiative that we’ve worked has been so incredibly rewarding […] no, I definitely can’t pick a favourite.”
We asked Somia how she and the team felt after winning this year’s ECO Impact Top Employer award.
“I was really honoured for the team to have that recognition […] everyone was so excited. It meant a lot for the team, and it was the perfect boost to have.”
We want to thank Somia and the rest of the team at Narratives Inc. for giving us an inside look at the incredible work they are doing.
We are excited to follow the incredible work of Narratives Inc. and witness their impact on communities across Canada.