Sister Writes: The Work Issue illuminates the hidden experiences and contributions of women in Toronto’s service industry and other precarious jobs. From bar waitresses to nannies, bottle collectors to baristas, retail workers to hotel housekeepers, women in Toronto’s service industry perform valuable and challenging work. But their experiences – and the inequalities they face due to the systemic devaluation of women’s labour – often go unspoken.
We wanted to change that. From September 2017 – May 2019, Sister Writes mounted free creative writing workshops at the Bloor-Gladstone Library in downtown Toronto. At these workshops, women learned writing techniques from professional writers, wrote narratives about work, collaborated with peers and editors, and polished their stories for publication. In these stories, women represent their work experiences on their own terms. While each story is unique in subject matter and style, many writers describe feeling inadequate, comprised and undervalued, but still manage to take pride in surviving challenging work situations and, sometimes, to confront and speak back to power.
Why write about women’s work? So that we have a better understanding of what needs to be done to make work life better, for all women.
This video documentary made by Francesca Awotundun and Lauren Kirshner features stories from the magazine read by the writers themselves and original illustrations by Valeryia Kopeleva.