Helen Tewolde

Founder & Editor-In-Chief

 

Welcome to Netselana :: ነጸላና

My name is Helen Tewolde (she/her).

I must admit: Netselana has been on my heart for over 10 years. It is truly a labour of love. 

 

Netselana is a tribute to our collective journey as a diaspora community as we attempt to define and re-define, personally and publicly, what it means to be Eritrean and Canadian simultaneously.  Through a process of collaborative and participatory documentation and archiving, we will weave our collective story: a photo album filled with your art, your poetry, your stories and essays and interviews of Eritrean-Canadians from different walks of life. 

This is about us. All of us. 

The vision is ambitious. Imagine an online gallery and a coffee table book adorned with art, poems and stories of Eritrean-Canadians of all generations: from Vancouver to Saskatoon; Fort McMurray to Toronto; Ottawa to Montreal to Halifax.

We are a small but mighty team.

 

This vision could not, and will not, come to life without the determination of the Netselana team who worked hard alongside me week after week - during a global pandemic no less - to interpret and clarify the concept, build this website, secure advisors, and do everything and anything that needed to be done. They see the vision and are making it real. 

And, I sincerely hope that you do too.

 

Reflecting all of our diversity as Eritreans: generational, geographic, political, ethnic and linguistic, this anthology seeks to hold up a mirror to our experiences as a diaspora community across Turtle Island, in this beautiful country of Canada, the place we now call home.

Netselana provides a platform to share our stories as Eritrean-Canadians: the inspiring, the mundane, the unbelievable. These are the stories we laugh with each other about and share over coffee with family and friends. They are also the painful stories that serve as reminders of our "inheritance of loss", to reference the title of Indian-American author Kiran Desai's 2006 novel. 

Similarly, each one of us knows about, or has experienced, a spectacular story of migration and triumph over adversity of mythical proportions that would be unbelievable were it not so real. We need to capture these stories. We must tell these stories of struggle to sacrifice and settlement to success. They must to be remembered and shared for future generations. 

 

It is time to hold space: for all that has been; all that is, and all that will be.

It is time to document and share our stories, our reflections, our art...ourselves. 

Netselana seeks to represent our integrated lived experiences as "Eritrean" and "Canadian".  I hope that you will join me in sharing your unique experiences through art.

As you scroll through this site, you will notice in the bios of each Team or Advisory member that we ask specific questions about art and the role of art in their lives. We wanted to demonstrate that Netselana is personal. We are all invested personally and professionally in making this dream come true!

So, what does art mean to me? 

 

I believe that art is the way our spirits seek liberation. Art enables freedom to self-express and self-represent. I express myself through the written word, including short story and poetry.

 

Jewellery, music, sculpture and poetry are my favourite forms of art. While my interests and tastes have evolved over time and will continue to evolve, I am drawn to abstract visual art inspired by and invoking themes of ancestry, femininity/the divine feminine, spirituality, Indigenous arts and crafts from all over the globe particularly those linked to historic civilizations, from the Aztecs to the Abyssinians.

(Please get in touch! You can click on my signature below if you have any questions or would like to get involved. 

Sincerely,