Newspaper article from the archives at the Mackenzie Museum
Newspaper article from the archives at the Mackenzie Museum | Photo by: Moni Brar

Moni Brar

By Meghan Power

Punjabi-Canadian poet and writer Moni Brar is currently on an “intergenerational journey through colonization, displacement, trauma, and resilience,” as she delves deep into her family’s social and political history, while researching a poetry memoir about Punjabi-Canadian families.

“For this project, I’ve been gathering stories, observations, and conversations. My research has included formal sources, like accessing archives for the historic elements to the stories that I’m telling, and also digging into personal archives, like drawing out the memories and stories that still live in my 80-year-old mother.”


“Receiving funding from CADA has had a significant impact on this project. By allowing me to set aside time, hold space, and gather resources, I’ve been able to dig deeper into poetic inquiry and make headway I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise,” says Moni.


One of Moni’s goals with this memoir is to explore the vulnerability of the individual wound with a feminist lens. How politics, social control, and female oppression have contributed, or been catalysts for these wounds: “At first, I thought this project was about my family, but it’s much bigger than that. Now, I see this project as helping to reconcile two worlds—a double consciousness that I embody, as an immigrant. My work is inherently about bridging the personal and the political, the past and the present, and intimate pain to collective hope.”


As an emerging writer, Moni has found this project has deepened her connection to the Alberta arts community, while at the same time, amplified her voice in advocating for BIPOC writers. “I believe this project helps to invite more voices to the table, diversify writing communities in Alberta and in Canada, and bring readers into experiences that they may not know otherwise. I also hope that my work will inspire other BIPOC writers to find their voices and share their stories.”


“I’d like to express my gratitude for this funding,” says Moni. “It has given me the courage to keep moving forward, to keep writing, and to continue growing as a writer. I’m immensely grateful that CADA saw value in my work and wanted to support me on this journey. The impact is a deepened artistic practice and increased self-worth as an artist. I’m applying for writer retreats and working with established writers whose mentorship is helping me develop my voice and, in turn, helping me grow as a writer and a poet. I believe it takes a village to raise an emerging writer, and CADA has connected me with that village”