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Narrative Change Lab

The Narrative Change Lab engages creatives from underrepresented communities to develop strategies to challenge dominant narratives and create new ones to help build a more pluralist Canada.

In 2021, we launched the Narrative Change Lab as a pilot to shift the Canadian narrative landscape for equity-seeking groups through pop culture.

We believe the current Canadian narrative landscape excludes many Black, Indigenous, and people of colour. Through the Lab’s support of racialized communities through narrative infrastructure, we hope to build narrative systems that accurately reflect the lived experiences and values of communities.  

Inspirit’s inaugural Narrative Change Lab theme is Reimagining Muslim Narratives.

Muslims in Canada have endured one-dimensional, racist, and Islamophobic stories for decades. Through the Lab, we hope to contribute to a fuller, more accurate portrayal of Muslims in Canada, one that challenges existing tropes, but also reimagines narratives from a place of strength and agency. 

Reimagining Muslim Narratives

The Foundation has identified three distinct “buckets” under this umbrella:

The Past

Surfacing and amplifying narratives of historical Muslim presence in Canada.

The Present

Challenging Islamophobic narratives in Canada.

The Future

Supporting the development of social and industry infrastructure for Muslim creatives and a generation of new Muslim-led narratives.

The Past

Inspirit partners with the Institute to support the creation and dissemination of pop culture narratives inspired by the Archives. 

The Muslims in Canada Archives, hosted at the Institute for Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto, collects artifacts that document the history of the vibrant historical presence of Muslim communities in Canada.  

The Present

Islamophobic narratives continue to populate legacy media and political discourse. These harmful narratives are reflected in laws that further entrench discriminatory attitudes and practices that impinge on Muslim communities’ rights and freedoms. To address these issues, Inspirit partners with the Béati Foundation in Quebec to support community leaders as they develop responses that challenge Islamophobia and promote alternative narratives.

The Future

Inspirit supports the capacity for Canadian Muslim creatives to define and lead deep narrative change.  

In 2022, the Foundation brought together Canadian Muslim creatives and content creators over five months to learn about narrative change concepts, and collaboratively design and develop a Muslim narrative system, while acknowledging that no one narrative could speak for all Canadian Muslims. Based on Inspirit’s own research, feedback from the Cohort, as well as external consultant recommendations, the next stage of this work is focused on: 

  • Infrastructure for Muslim creatives: There is a need for Muslim creatives to meet regularly, to share opportunities for collaboration, and to build communities of practice. Inspirit is working with community partners on supporting the ongoing creation and animation of networks.
  • Research: With data on Muslim representation in the Canadian arts and culture we seek to raise awareness and push for change on access to funding and development opportunities for Muslim creatives. 
  • Fund for Muslim creatives: Inspirit is developing a fund to support impactful narrative change projects that will be launched in 2025.