Filling the Need for Faraway Family Stories

The idea for Faraway Families began in January 2018 through a discussion between the book’s co-authors, Jena Rhydderch and Jocelyn Tochor. Both were living far away from their respective families and looking for a storybook for their children that could help them understand that family remains together despite the physical distance that separates them.

When their children, Maeven (Mae) and Britton (Jae), would visit with their family members who lived in different parts of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Mexico, it would take a few days to reacquaint themselves with them. Soon enough the visit was over and they would need to start all over again during the next visit. As parents, it was difficult to see their children struggle to connect with members of their family due to the distance between them. Hence, Faraway Families was born.

There were few books that delivered the message to children that families can live near and far, and still be loved. Jena and Jocelyn wanted an opportunity to showcase how all families look a little different and enjoy different family customs, in celebration of multiculturalism in Canada.

The book also helps us all understand that the world has become incredibly diverse and family migration continues. By the end of 2018, there were an estimated 67.2 million forced migrants globally – 25.9 million refugees displaced from their countries, and 41.3 million internally displaced persons (displaced within their countries for different reasons). These families are apart for a variety of reasons and children have grown within a new community of people they call “family.”

Canada welcomed more than 313,000 new immigrants in 2019 and there are an estimated 2.8 million Canadian citizens living abroad. These Canadians have the same struggles as Mae and Jae who have family in different parts of the world. They need to find ways to stay connected, visit as often as they can and find family-friendly resources that can help. Faraway Families hopes to be a source of comfort for all of these faraway families.

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