Listen to stories from the Willow Storytelling Program!

On March 2 and 3, the women of the Willow Storytelling Program told their stories, live and without notes, in recognition of International Women’s Day.

The Willow Storytelling Program is a workshop series produced and led by Grace Evans, supported by Steel City Stories and Good Shepherd Women’s Services and generously funded by the Hamilton Community Foundation. This year’s program was also sponsored by Jonny Blonde Food Truck & Catering. The performances took place at The Staircase.

You can listen to these amazing stories! Please note that some of these stories contain details about experiences with domestic and/or sexual violence.

Friday, March 2 — CLICK HERE TO LISTEN!
Hosted by Layal Haidari and featuring stories by:

Ngozi C. Iyamah

Maureen Mallon

Tammy Hudgins

Bianca Mallon

Anne J.

Host: Layal Haidari

Saturday, March 3 — CLICK HERE TO LISTEN!
Hosted by Edith Chavez and featuring stories by:

Amber Wood

Lisa Hunt

Cass Henry



Sarah Kam

Host: Edith Chavez

Photos by Dan Jelly

Thanks to all of the Willow participants for making this winter workshop such a great time!


Let’s meet the storytellers for Saturday, March 3!

Steel City Stories presents two shows in recognition of International Women’s Day on Friday, March 2nd and Saturday, March 3rd. Both shows are at the Staircase Theatre. Find event details and ticket information here.

Let’s meet the storytellers for Saturday, March 3!

Amber Wood is an actor and devised theatre collaborator originally from the U.S. She has called Hamilton home for two years and is very slowly making her way through the waterfalls. She enjoys reading children’s books (on her own and out loud via Skype with various tiny humans), listening to stories, and encouraging others to tell their own. Ask Amber about the book she’s writing with her 6-year-old niece or her Current Big Idea Project: planning a 6,400 km road trip interview tour to chat about making hospitable spaces for artists and audiences.

Irene dives into life head first, and figures out how to deal with what’s lurking under the surface as she goes. Four years ago she jumped into living in Hamilton and home ownership; more recently she plunged into business as the owner of a local tea shop. Her personal theme song is, “Everything works if you let it.”


Cass Henry is a life-long reader, writer and poet. She began writing at the early age of 12 after falling in love with Acrostics in the 5th grade. In the intervening years, Cass has traveled most of North America and lived in many Southern Ontario cities, but has considered Hamilton home for the past 7. She is a self-employed IT worker and enjoys being able to work from home as she is a single mother to a 14 year old. Cass says the journey has been worth all the ups and the downs, and she’s excited to see what the future holds.


Anne Thompson is a mother and a grandma to five wonderful young children. She is a social activist, talent agent and laboratory technician…oh and an actress. She marches to the beat of a different drum. Her aim is to return to Jamaica, her homeland and start a production company dedicated to telling cultural stories focusing on cemeteries and their occupants. She believes she is funny even though her kids thinks she can mess up a simple joke… she is okay with that because she makes herself laugh!


Sarah Kam moved to Hamilton for her undergraduate degree in nursing and stayed put since. She lives in the North End where she is trying to grow a fig tree in her front yard. She recently acquired a folding bicycle and has a litany of places to travel, prioritized by how delicious of a place they are. She looks forward to the day where she has the time to understand how magnets work, commit her favourite recipes to memory, produce a podcast, and build a bicycle trailer for her part-time dog.

Carmen says that the older she gets the closer she comes to being more playful, content and awed. By far and away stories have been the primary vehicle to bring about this transformation.

Saturday night’s host is:

Edith Chavez was born and raised in Mexico City. She now lives in Hamilton where she is trying to adapt to the new culture. With a Master degree of Arts from McMaster University, she is interested in work, education and community. Storytelling has been part of her upbringing and she believes that sharing our experiences and points of view produces identity and creates community.

Photo credits:
Photo #1: Jesse Korgemaa
Photos # 2, 3, 4, 5, 6: Katharine Snider McNair

Photo #7: Dan Jelly

Let’s meet the storytellers for Friday, March 2!

Steel City Stories presents two shows in recognition of International Women’s Day on Friday, March 2nd and Saturday, March 3rd. Both shows are at the Staircase Theatre. Find event details and ticket information here.

Let’s meet the storytellers for Friday, March 2!

Ngozi C. Iyamah was born in Toronto, but raised in west Africa, from Monrovia, Liberia to southwestern Nigeria. She is a lifelong learner and obtained her Certificate of Education from the College of Education in Agbor, Delta State, Nigeria. She also has her Computer and Network Support Technician certificate from Humber College and her Webmaster certificate from Mohawk College. She enjoys website design, some programming language and WordPress. Ngozi has a real passion for social advocacy in Hamilton. She has been a member of WHPC Advisory Committee since its inception, in addition to her participation on the SAGE amp Advisory Committee and WAWG Survivor Committee. In her spare time, if she finds some, she enjoys singing, dancing, painting and arts and crafts.

Maureen Mallon is a mom of four amazing, wonderful children. She is a member of WAWG (Women Abuse Working Group) Survivor Committee. Maureen enjoys walks in nature, especially to waterfalls.

Tammy Hudgins has lived in Hamilton all her life. She left her husband five years ago. She is a single mother to a wonderful fifteen-year-old daughter. Tammy lives with depression and anxiety so she needs to push herself to try new things and remind herself that she can do anything if she tries and puts one foot in front of other.

Lisa Hunt wouldn’t call herself a storyteller, though her friends probably would. This is her third time telling a story at Steel City Stories. She is only slightly less terrified to be on stage now than she was the first time. Lisa works in a bookstore, loves to read and has shared the story of her mental health journey several times. She is honoured to have been able to assist with the Willow Storytelling Program for the second year, helping others to tell their stories.

Bianca Mallon is 24 years old and currently a Graphic Design: Illustration student at Mohawk College. She is a motivational speaker with TAMI (Talking About Mental Illness) and the founder of EASE (End All Silence Everywhere), which is an anti-bullying/anti-abuse group. Bianca is a soprano singer with Chorus Hamilton, and a six bass pan player with HYSO (Hamilton Youth Steel Orchestra). She loves nature and anything artsy; and also loves to help people.

Anne J grew up in a small, rural community close to Sarnia. After high school, she enrolled in the Occupational and Physiotherapy Assistant program at Humber College. She and her husband have two boys and enjoy exploring Hamilton and visiting its numerous waterfalls. Anne volunteers in her church community and in the greater community with refugees. She is a natural conversationalist and thoroughly enjoys meeting new people and hearing their stories. She also enjoys weightlifting; relishes a good book; and recently fell in love with the sport of rock-climbing.

Friday night’s host is:

Layal Haidari is a dancing queen turned business owner. Following a 10-year career in TV and film documentary, Layal and her partner Jonny launched the Jonny Blonde food truck together in 2013. They now spend their time catering weddings, corporate functions and putting on special events around the city. Layal produced and directed a documentary film “House of God,” which screened at TIFF Bell Lightbox in 2011, and a series of music videos for her singing, rapping alter-ego “Roxi Diabla.” She is currently working on new material for a debut album; look for the music video for “Arabian Dream Queen” on YouTube.

Photo credits: 
Photos #1, 3, 5: Katharine Snider McNair
Photos #4, 6: Dan Jelly

Celebrate International Women’s Day 2018 by listening to women’s stories

Steel City Stories and Good Shepherd Women’s Services come together to put women’s voices centre stage

On March 2 and 3 the women of the Willow Storytelling Program will tell their stories, live and without notes at The Staircase Theatre on Dundurn Street. The Willow Storytelling Program is a workshop series produced and led by Grace Evans, supported by Steel City Stories and Good Shepherd Women’s Services and generously funded by the Hamilton Community Foundation. This year’s program was also sponsored by Jonny Blonde Food Truck & Catering.

This year marks the third year of the eight-week Willow Storytelling Program. Participants report they have gained confidence and learned public speaking skills, enabling them to share their stories. Maureen M., a second year participant, said the program “gave me the opportunity and strength to share my truth… definitely a healing journey”.

According to Paula, the Wellness Facilitator at Good Shepherd Women’s Services, the program “has provided a safe place for women to tell their story. Women look forward to this opportunity to be heard within a nurturing and creative environment. The growth that women have been able to take away from this workshop is unmeasurable. Women who have been silenced for so long have now been able to feel free and empowered.”

For the past two years the Willow Storytelling Program has received financial support from a Creative Arts Fund grant from the Hamilton Community Foundation. The grant pays for the storytelling instructor fee and helps supply participants with bus tickets, dinner prior to the workshop, and the venue for the event. Unfortunately, the grant will not be available next year and a new source of funding will be needed.

Doors for the event open at 6pm and the stories start at 7:30pm. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Advance tickets for both shows are $18. Tickets are available here.

This Back-Up Singing, Roller Skating Hamilton Woman Can’t Go Home Again…Come Find Out Why!

Patty is Interior Designer, Director of dpai architecture inc, and Mom to two adorably precocious children. She’s an incredibly grateful spouse to a sexy, funny and gentle man with “sandy beach” (red) glorious curly locks. Patty’s also an insatiable lover of Chaiwala tea lattes, especially if paired with great conversation with strangers who are willing to share tales and life experiences. She has (not so) secret dreams of singing back-up in a band– any band– and see herself on roller skates in the near future.001_Tessier_20150408_0896

Introducing Vuk!

Vuk Pejovic arrived to Hamilton just a few years ago from magical country of Montenegro. He is a code wizard for HHS by trade, and is attending McMaster University to improve his degree. Outside of work, he boxes at a local gym and has earned a spot on the plaques at The Judge pub on Augusta.headshot_2017

One Woman’s True North

Amanda lives in Hamilton with 5 other people and loves spending time with her housemates.  She is a grade 3 teacher by day in HDSB.  In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors, camping, cooking and loving life.  She can also be found spending any spare minutes with her partner, Simon and their trusty, 4 legged best friend, Marvin. IMG_1198