The City of Mississauga is asking residents to share the stories that define what life in Mississauga means to them, through an initiative called “Story of M.” The City of Mississauga wants to capture Mississauga’s entire story – from its early Indigenous roots to the cultural diversity of life in the city today.

The Story of M grew from a recommendation included in the Heritage Management Strategy, approved by council in June 2016. The purpose of the initiative, as outlined in the strategy, is to “enable Mississauga residents to identify, protect, conserve and celebrate our collective cultural heritage by engaging the public in our evolving story.”

“Mississauga has a story to tell, and the Story of M will help us connect with residents across the city,” said Paul Damaso, director culture division. “These stories will help fuel the exhibits and programming at the Museums of Mississauga.” The objective is to create a collection to share with residents that will capture not only what the city is, but also what it will become.

The Story of M has a three-year timeline and will happen in three phases. Phase one will identify repetitive themes that residents highlight as being important to them. Phase two will involve gathering stories and artifacts from residents based on the highlighted themes. Finally, phase three will entail Museums of Mississauga compiling the stories and sharing them with residents through events, education, and exhibitions at various venues for all to see.

Now in phase one of the innovative three-year project, Museums of Mississauga staff have already visited areas in the city to engage residents in sharing their stories about life within their neighbourhoods, as well as collecting their ideas to help shape the future of these areas. Cooksville, Malton, Port Credit, and Lakeview are among these communities.

To identify themes and gather stories, Museums of Mississauga will also be hosting various theme and story gathering sessions throughout the city in 2017 and 2018.

During these sessions, residents will be asked to share what Mississauga means to them. According to Stuart Keeler, manager and chief curator culture division, there are no rules to restrict what these themes and stories could include.

“Why did you choose Mississauga and what did you pack in your suitcase for the move?” Keeler shared as a possible example. “For residents that have lived in Mississauga for a longer period of time, we’d like to learn where they were during the train derailment of 1979, if they opened and ran businesses in the community and what the city was like before the construction of the current Civic Centre in 1987.”

Organizers want to give all residents the opportunity to share their stories – from new immigrants to those who have spent their whole lives in the city. Residents are encouraged to participate in the Story of M by sharing their stories and ideas. For information, including storytelling workshop dates and locations, visit Residents are also encouraged to follow @SaugaMuseums on Twitter.

Image: Mississauga Celebration Square, courtesy of City of Mississauga.

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