Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997
Christ Church Cathedral414 Sparks St.
6:30pm

The River of Life

with Yasuko Thanh and Samra Zafar
Hosted by CBC’s Lucy van Oldenbarneveld

The River of Life

with Yasuko Thanh and Samra Zafar
Hosted by CBC’s Lucy van Oldenbarneveld
5
Sunday
May
6:30pm
Christ Church Cathedral
414 Sparks St.
Samra Zafar - Photo by Emily D Photography
Yasuko Thanh - Photo by Don Denton

Join us for an evening of remarkable true stories about finding strength, struggling for empowerment and how the choices we make dictate the people we become. CBC’s Lucy van Oldenbarneveld hosts Yasuko Thanh, winner of the Journey Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Award, and Samra Zafar, human rights activist, scholar, author and social entrepreneur.

 

Mistakes to Run With chronicles the turbulent life of Yasuko Thanh, from early childhood to teen years as a sex worker and, finally, to her emergence as an award-winning author. As a child, Thanh embraced evangelical religion, only to rebel against it and her equally rigid parents, cutting herself, smoking and shoplifting. At age 15, the honour-roll runaway develops a taste for drugs and alcohol. After a stint in jail at 16, feeling utterly abandoned by her family, school and society, Thanh meets the man who would become her pimp and falls in love. The next chapter of her life takes Thanh to the streets of Vancouver, where she endures beatings, arrests, crack cocaine, and an unwanted pregnancy. The act of writing ultimately becomes a solace from her suffering.

 

A Good Wife tells Samra Zafar’s harrowing and inspiring story. She faced years of abuse after arriving in Canada as a teenage bride in a hastily arranged marriage, but nothing could stop her from pursuing her dreams. At age 15, Samra had big dreams for herself. She was going to go to university and forge her own path. Then with almost no warning, those dreams were pulled away from her when, at age 17, she was suddenly married to a stranger and had to leave behind her family in Pakistan to move to Canada. A few years later, desperate to get away, and refusing to give up, she hatched an escape plan for herself and her two daughters. Somehow she found the strength to not only build a new future, but to walk away from her past, ignoring the pleas of her family and risking cultural isolation by divorcing her husband.

 

Books available for purchase at every event: Proceeds support our free children’s literacy programs. 

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