Tuesday May 17, 2016

From Syria to life at the Hotel Limbo

A Syrian refugee child in the lobby at the Toronto Plaza hotel.

A Syrian refugee child in the lobby at the Toronto Plaza hotel.

Listen to Full Episode 32:39

If you walked into the Toronto Plaza Hotel today you probably wouldn't notice anything — the carpets are a bit more worn, a few paper signs in Arabic linger on the walls — little evidence that for the past few months, this building was packed with hundreds of Syrian refugees. A portion of the 25,000 refugees the federal government brought to Canada.

While at the hotel, an immigrant settlement organization called COSTI helped the newcomers get their kids into school, start English classes, and most importantly, find a place to live. But locating homes for the close to 1,800 refugees in Toronto is tough — very tough. As the weeks and months rolled on this hotel wasn't just a stop gap — for many it became a temporary home ... and the hotel began to take on a life of its own. 

Producers' Notebook

Working together: how to make a collaborative radio documentary

Group shot blog

Producers Yasmine Hassan, Craig Desson and Julia Pagel.

Hotel Limbo was collaboration between three producers. We worked as equals — sharing in the work of reporting, writing and editing of our documentary.

This is unusual in radio documentary production and in media organizations overall, where job specialization and hierarchy are most common because, frankly, it's an efficient way to work.

What you gain though, when you're part of a team where nobody is the boss of another, is you're forced to move past your own creative boundaries, habits and old tricks. You get to view another person's process from beginning to finish, and have your own process examined too.

The work that's made is a mixture of other people's taste and skills, different than what we would have made alone. Continue reading →


About the producers

Julia Pagel is currently the associate producer of The Doc Project radio program. She's also worked at other CBC Radio programs such as As It Happens, q and Metro Morning

Craig Desson is a producer at CBC Radio. He previously worked at the Toronto Star, TVO and Journalists for Human Rights.

Yasmine Hassan is an associate producer at CBC Radio. She's currently working on documentaries for Metro Morning.

Original theme is composed and performed by Stefan Banjevic.