University of the Fraser Valley

Flood Stories winners’ submissions ‘incredibly powerful’

Flood Stories winners’ submissions ‘incredibly powerful’

A view of Mt Baker from flooded Sumas Prairie in November 2021.

A year after flooding devastated the Fraser Valley, the collective experience has been captured in a series of artistic expressions garnered through a contest and an open invitation for those affected to share their stories. The results are in, and they’re remarkable, according to Dr. Michelle Superle, who organized the Flood Stories project.

“The inspiration for the Flood Stories project was two-fold: to create space for everyone who wanted to share their flood story to tell it in their own way, and to demonstrate respect for the local farmers who work so hard to feed us,” says Superle, an English professor and research associate with the UFV Food and Agriculture Institute. “The ultimate purpose of both parts of this project was to support healing. Responses to the project have exceeded our expectations: the stories and art people have shared are incredibly powerful. They demonstrate the best, most beautiful facets of humanity — hope, collaboration, and persistence. We are grateful to have met and worked with so many wonderful members of the community on this project. Thank you for trusting us with your stories.”

The Flood Stories project engaged farmers in the Fraser Valley who were affected by the November 2021 extreme flooding events, inviting them and their families to share their experiences in spoken, written, and artistic format. The project used a narrative approach to better understand how Abbotsford farmers have been affected by floods and what they need to begin thriving again.

In addition, a contest was held school children from Abbotsford and Chilliwack in grades K through 12, as well as UFV students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

“We recognize that the flood was a very unusual and traumatic experience for many people, both those whose properties flooded and those who observed their fellow citizens undergoing extreme stress,” notes Superle. “We thought it was important, as the first anniversary of the flood approached, to tell those stories, record them for posterity, and learn from them. Telling their story can also be therapeutic for those affected.”

UFV Bachelor of Arts student Sydney Marchand worked on the Flood Stories project as a student assistant.

“What started out as a practicum course quickly turned into a student research position that has been an incredible opportunity to get out into the community, support farmers, and provide an outlet for people to process a traumatic event in an expressive and creative way,” says Marchand. “It has been an honour to offer people an alternative way to express their emotions and encourage them along the healing journey.”

The team members who judged the submissions and selected winners were impressed with what they received.

“We were overwhelmed by the number and quality of submissions we received, and it was very difficult for our team to narrow down the winners,” noted a team representative. “We hope this project will act as a kind of capstone for the November 2021 floods, but also serve as a reminder of the resilience and strength that our community has.”

The Flood Stories submissions can be viewed here.

Categories and winners

1st place written category: Sarah Brown

1st place visual art category: Brianna Plett

1st place photography category: Cobi Timmermans

2nd place written category: Sha Scholtens

2nd place visual art category: Victoria (Vivi) Vergara

2nd place photography category: Adam Magalhaes

3rd place written category: Emili Kaplin

3rd place visual art category: Jenna Cowie-Randle

3rd place photography category: Jennifer Martel


Grades K-7 

1st place written category: Clara Fairbairn

1st place visual art category: Barrowtown Elementary

1st place “other” category: Greendale Elementary Division 4 & 5

2nd place written category: Greendale Elementary, class submission Division 8

2nd place visual art category: Greendale Elementary, Ms. Durflinger’s class

2nd place “other” category: Greendale Elementary, Division 7

3rd place written category: Audrey Kaszonyi

3rd place visual art category: Susan White’s Grade 2/3 class, honorable mention to Bhavdeep Malhi

3rd place “other” category: Greendale Elementary, Division 1


Grades 8-12

1st place visual art category: Jessica Boon

2nd place visual art category: Julia Janzen