Families Stick Together: Exploring Connections to Culture and Family Through Digital Illustration and Sticker Making

Over 8 workshop sessions, 10 high school youth aged 13-18,  primarily from east and southeast Asia,  explored their connections to family and culture through Digital Illustration and Sticker making. Workshop sessions and discussions were facilitated by  digital artist Lily Huang, guest speakers Erin Kang, Jaclyn Wong, Dany Ko (Asian Community AIDS Services) and SYU’s youth facilitators Audry Tao, Julianna So, Rachel Wycheng, Yuhong Shen, and Alima Rezai.

We are grateful for funding from ArtReach and the Toronto Arts Council for this project. 


Erica Liu

This sticker represents a landscape of mountains and a river. It is inspired  by my native country, China.

Sharjeel Usmani 

Peacocks in Pakistani culture have always been closely linked to elements of paradise, beauty, luck, and holiness. There are traditional dances which depict and represent the dance of the peacock. For all these elements and more, I’ve decided to create a peacock for digital art drawing.

Valerie Hadley 

This sticker design represents the collaboration of two shows; a mix of theHarry Potter movie series and Minions.

Julia Zhou

Jiayu Yan

This sticker is inspired by the traditional Chinese patterns which often appear in Asian costumes.The flower is a peony which originated in China and that my mother loves a lot. Therefore, I created this sticker to present my Chinese family culture to everyone.

Pushpa Saha

This sticker represents the mother-daughter experience of South Asian. Many South Asian women grow up with their mother putting oil on their heads and braiding it. This is a very big part of mother and daughter culture which why I created this sticker to symbolize the feeling when my mother does that for me. Also a lot of South Asian colors are very bold so I gave her blue hair. 

Liam C

This sticker is a representation of the main character from the Lion King movie. I chose to create this sticker because the Lion King emphasized the meaning of family and my family supports the England team and they are lions so it is a symbol of that. Also my family bonds over soccer.

Jenny Cao

A boat trying to find its way home and a lighthouse trying its best.

Yuhong Shen 

This sticker represents a Chinese dish called glued tanish rice ball and it reminds me of my family in China, especially my grandmother. This dish is part of Chinese culture and we eat it at the lantern festival.

Julianna So

There’s a saying that’s stuck in my head, not that I can remember where I heard it from—if you want someone to trust you, you need to give them the knife handle first.

For me, my relationship to my culture has the knife constantly flipping around. Traditional Asian family culture meant my parents didn’t always emotionally connect with me as a kid. I didn’t know how to talk to them—but I could always count on eating dinner together as a family, listening to my mom complain about her workday with a bowl of white rice.

I love Asian food; I’d prefer noodles over burgers any day. My love for food, and curiosity about the kitchen, led to me helping my mom make dinner—trusting her to guide me, and opening myself up to spending time with her; and maybe it was because our eyes were focused on chopping vegetables that meant we could speak easier to each other. Cooking together improved our bond, and we learned to understand each other, standing over a pot of soup to taste if it needed more salt.

Learning how to cook with my mom sparked a passion for cooking, and a newfound relationship with my culture and my family. I know how to create the recipes passed down from my ancestors, and it gave me the confidence to create my own recipes. I’ve grown comfortable grasping that kitchen knife.

The Team: 

Youth Facilitators:

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Audry Tao

Audrey Tao, a grade 11 student attending St. Augustine CHS, is very involved in SYU through the committees that practice leadership, teaching and art. She loves listening to music, painting, and drawing. Some of the SYU projects she has partaken include The Paint Your Story project, Photovoice Project, Movie Club, and the Social Justice Summer Camp. With being one of the youth leads in the Paint Your Story project, she has learned much more about leading, as well as how a topic like mental health can have a deep connection to art. The other projects have allowed her to analyze the deeper meanings behind photos and movies, as well as using art as a form to speak up on different global issues.

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Julianna So

Julianna So is a grade 12 student at Agincourt CI. In her free time, she loves drawing, writing, and listening to music. She participated in SYU’s Paint Your Story project, prompting her to think deeply about her connection between art and mental health. It also inspired her to write more poetry. Julianna’s involvement in the Paint Your Story project encouraged her to be a youth facilitator in Families Stick Together.

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Rachel Wycheng

Rachel Cheng is a grade 11 student at Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School who enjoys painting, playing the flute, and writing. Additionally, she is an avid public speaker and has spoken at many events including the Giants of Africa event, a youth panel on CityLine TV, and several BYRYouth panels. She also has experience writing grants, and planning programs; she has worked on the SYU Paint Your Story program, a spoken word program for WordSpoken Toronto, and a youth conference for BYRYouth. Rachel has also participated in multiple programs including SYU’s photovoice program and the Hong Fook mental health community mural project. Through both her experience in organizing programs, and her participation in them, she has gained valuable insight on mental health and social justice issues.

Yuhong Shen

Yuhong Shen

Yuhong Shen is a grade 11 student at Pierre Elliott Trudeau HS. Her current role is a Youth Facilitator for SYU. During her free or stressful times, she loves drawing and listens to a lot of music. For past SYU projects, she participated in the Paint Your Story project and the Intergenerational learning project. The participation in various different projects supported her in many different ways. The Paint Your Story project made her think more thoughtfully and deeply about herself and learn more about mental health. The Intergenerational Learning Project made her gain experience from the seniors and opportunities to learn and analyze the immigration stories of elders.

Project Coordinator:

Alima Rezai

Alima Rezai

Alim Rezai is studying civil engineering. In her spare time she loves to volunteer, work on different projects and create various initiatives based on her community’s needs such as creating “Girl’s Talk” an 8 week project for newcomer youth. Alima also loves to play different sports. In high school she played soccer and cricket. Currently she is doing Taekwondo and swimming. Her passion for project management and working with newcomer youth led her to be the project coordinator for Families stick together program to help coordinate the workshops and support the team of four facilitators.


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