Humainologie with Fatima Dobrowolski and SHADES cast at the SHADES Premiere. | Photo: courtesy of Humainologie


By Meghan Power

Humainologie has been creating award-winning short films since 2016. In Fall 2022, with the help of both operating and project funding from Calgary Arts Development (CADA), Humainologie launched and produced a series called SHADES: Amplify Her Voice, a storytelling project made up of 15 short films (ranging between 60-90 seconds in length) that highlight the lives of five different Calgarians who are Black women and women of the Global Majority. The series premiered at the Black woman-owned Plaza Theatre with a red-carpet entry by three of the film stars.

Without overlooking or ignoring the systemic disadvantages and challenges experienced by Black and racialized women, the SHADES films, which have now received over 70,000 views online, celebrate the identities, uniqueness, contributions, and humanity of the Calgary women they profile.


“The artists and communities we serve hold identities and stories that have been historically excluded or misrepresented,” says Humainologie’s Ciermae Allen (Community + Events). “Our mission is to centre people facing systemic barriers by amplifying their stories and celebrating their humanity. CADA’s funding allows us to provide a platform where people who have experienced systemic barriers are the main characters.”


“As a Ghanaian woman who was born and grew up across Alberta, these stories made me feel more seen, recognized, and celebrated in public spaces than ever before,” said Hawa Kombian, an attendee at the SHADES premiere. 


“The SHADES project is an example of radically centring people,” says Humainologie’s Salima Stanley-Bhanji (CEO), “not only through the storytelling process, but also via a platform of support we offer to each of our cast members.”


One example of the support provided to SHADES cast members is the current collaboration between Humainologie and Calgary rap and funk artist Sinzere, to produce a music video for her Tabula Rasa album. “Providing both financial and in-kind support allows us to empower people wherever they are in their journeys: creatively, professionally, and personally,” says Allen. Funding for mental health support is also being provided to the cast of SHADES season 2, which will premiere in early 2024. 


“I am excited to see Humainologie and SHADES delve into such authentic, holistic and rich stories of our melanated sisterhood and continue this incredible momentum,” shared Kombian, who sees the potential for the project to expand into other cities. 


“Thank YOU…for seeing something in me, to want to help tell a part of my story,” shared one of the SHADES cast. “For connecting me to so many other amazing people. For REALLLLLLLLYY loving us up. For such an amazing evening I’ll cherish forever. I’m honoured. I’m touched. I’m so full and grateful.” 


Humainologie runs an annual short story festival which has awarded and profiled Black, racialized, queer, disabled, and immigrant women writers. Collaborating with TEDx YYC, Humainologie supports speakers and coaches from communities that experience systemic barriers. The organization is also developing an Indigenous Bursary Program for Indigenous post-secondary students with $500,000 in endowment funds already committed.


Humainologie’s vision is an equitable world where every human is heard, included, and valued.