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Media Release
May 18, 2018
Halifax, NS

From Refugee, to Revolutionary to Renowned Author:
The Museum Welcomes Carmen Aguirre

Carmen Aguirre was a six-year-old refugee from Chile when she first came to Canada following Pinochet’s violent coup. She spent much of her teenage years fighting with the Chilean resistance, before settling in Vancouver and going on to become a celebrated actor, playwright and author. Her searing memoir Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter became a national bestseller.

It is with great pleasure that the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 welcomes Carmen Aguirre for Pier 21 Reads on Sunday, May 27 at 7:00 pm. Carmen will discuss how her life experience inspired her writing, and read excerpts from her books, with a Q&A and book singing to follow. This is a free event, presented in English. Carmen is available to the media for in-person interviews on Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27.

From 6:00 to 6:45 p.m., participants are welcomed to explore Refuge Canada for a special after-hours visit, and to prepare for Carmen’s talk. Carmen’s story of arrival can be found in the exhibition.

Space is limited, reserve your seat here to confirm your attendance:

Pier 21 Reads: Carmen Aguirre
Sunday, May 27
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Kenneth C. Rowe Hall
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
1055 Marginal Road, Halifax, NS B3H 4P7

Quick Facts:

  • Pier 21 Reads is a public reading and book signing by an acclaimed Canadian author at the Museum, which encourages dialogue on themes of immigration and Canadian identity.
  • Carmen Aguirre is an author, actor, and playwright. She was born in Santiago, Chile to parents who were teachers and activists. Her parents were supporters of Allende, and went into exile after Pinochet's coup. Carmen was six years old when her family fled the country in December of 1973, three months after Allende's overthrow. Her family landed in California and then made their way by land to Vancouver, Canada, where they were accepted as political refugees.
  • Carmen has written and co-written twenty-five plays, worked extensively across North and South America as an actor, and written two memoirs, including national bestseller Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter, which also won Canada Reads in 2012.
  • Carmen is the recipient of multiple awards including the 2014 10 Most Influential Hispanics in Canada Award, the 2014 Latincouver Inspirational Latin Award for Achievement in Arts and Culture, the 2012 Outstanding Alumna Award from Langara College and the 2011 Union of B.C. Performers Lorena Gale Woman of Distinction Award.


“We’re so pleased to welcome the very fierce and fabulous Carmen Aguirre to the Museum for Pier 21 Reads. Her incredible story of resilience and resistance is included in our exhibition, Refuge Canada, so having her here in person is an amazing moment of an exhibition coming to life. With so many awards and recognitions for her writing to share, Carmen’s history exemplifies the important ways newcomers contribute to Canadian culture.” - Marie Chapman, CEO, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

“It is a great honour to be invited to read from my book and talk about my refugee experience at such an important historical site. The main thing I hope people will take away from the experience is a fresh understanding of the difference between a refugee and an immigrant. Refugees are unwanted in their land, and are often unwelcome in their new land. They have not chosen to leave their home behind. They are not here to reinvent themselves, and are often focused on a triumphant return to their homeland. One of the biggest crises humanity is facing at the moment is the refugee crisis; there are more refugees in the world today than ever before in our history. It is for that reason that I think it is important for those of us who are refugees to assert that identity and in that way stand behind fellow refugees. It is important to share my journey to Canada precisely because it is not unique. It is a story that many fellow refugees can relate to, and a story that is not often heard in the mainstream.” - Carmen Aguirre


Media Contact

Please contact to schedule interview with Carmen Aguirre.

Beatrice Houston-Gilfoy, Communications Specialist
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
Telephone: (902) 425-7770 ext. 264

About the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 collects, shares and pays tribute to the Canadian immigration story. The Museum is situated in Halifax, Nova Scotia at Pier 21, the National Historic Site that served as the gateway to Canada for one million immigrants between 1928 and 1971. Today, the Museum shares the stories and experiences of all immigrants to Canada, past to present day. The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 enhances public understanding of the experiences of immigrants to Canada, highlights the vital role immigration has played in the building of our country and the contributions of immigrants to Canada’s culture, economy and way of life. It is Canada’s sixth national museum and the only one located in Atlantic Canada.