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This issue was made in collaboration with students from McMaster University’s Gender Studies and Feminist Research Program, Discovery Program and Westdale Secondary School’s Cooperative Education Program.

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 16 • May & June 2012 • Published by the Immigrant Women’s Centre

Breaking Barriers, Building Pathways By Michelle Falk and Alaina Almas, McMaster University

The geographical separation between McMaster University and Hamilton’s downtown community has been said to be a barrier. However, McMaster’s President, Peatrick Deane, is working hard to create partnerships with local agencies and organizations to connect these two distinct Hamilton communities. For the month of March, the President’s hallway became a gallery space for a group of women from the Immigrant Women’s Centre to display their Photo Voice project.

“Students who came to see the photos displayed at McMaster had the opportunity to see some of these women’s stories and learn from their experiences.” This project was intended to show, through a collection of narrated photos, some of the challenges and barriers many newcomers face, with particular focus on those in the Somali community. The photos (and narrations that accompany them) push to raise awareness about struggles experienced through settlement in Hamilton. Students who came to see the photos displayed at McMaster had the opportunity to see some of these women’s stories and learn from their experiences. “For us to be able to host this is a wonderful testimony to the way in which new members of this community have engaged with the city.” - Continued on Page 5 -

In this


Knowledge in Action McMaster students partner with agencies page 3

Artist in a new country


By Evelyna Kay, Grade 11, Westdale Secondary School

Eddyth Gaviria uses her artistic skills to serve the community, while pursuing her dream to continue her mural artist career in Canada. Eddyth Gaviria was always artistic, but until she visited a dental office for her son’s appointment, she never considered making a career of her abilities. “[…] I saw the murals in the office,” explained Gaviria, “and I [thought] ‘I want to do that.’” First trained as an artist and a publicist in The Art Institute of Medellin in Colombia, Gaviria enjoyed painting her home creatively, but did not have any intention of using her skills in a professional capacity. It was not until emigrating from Columbia, and taking up residence in the United States that she began to see a career in art as a genuine possibility. “In the United States, I [began]… painting murals,” said Gaviria, who has been commissioned to create such art in the U.S. upon several occasions. Despite success in the United States, however, Gaviria has experienced difficulty finding clients in Canada, and has not had many opportunities to paint professionally since arriving. Gaviria considers this to be a product of consumer mentality, and of a societal disregard for art. “It’s difficult,” she said, when questioned. “It’s [easier] and cheaper for […] people to buy

Learning and Discovery Building a creative and safe learning space page 4

something in Walmart.” Prospective customers often expect the work to be instantaneous, as if mass-produced. During the start-up of her business in Hamilton, Gaviria has continued to create art. In the absence of mural clients, she paints and draws independently, expanding her grasp of medium by studying at the Dundas Valley School of Art. “I want the people know my art,” she said. “I want […] people to know who I am.”

“She hopes to eventually make a living by creating murals for people’s homes and places of work...” While taking measures to promote herself as an artist within the Hamilton community, she is simultaneously volunteering at AbleLiving as an art therapist for people with disabilities. She hopes to eventually make a

Volunteering Developing skills for employment page 5

living by creating murals for people’s homes and places of work, but for now, she takes pride in her position at AbleLiving, claiming to “…see [a] strong response.” She considers the role of art within society to be of vital importance, and wishes that such activities would be made more readily available. Gaviria is part of The Hispanic Fraternity here in Hamilton, and attributes many of her opportunities to display her art to them. Through them, she has received exposure in Hamilton for her pastel drawings and acrylic paintings. Gaviria has also participated in programs at The Immigrant Women’s Centre, including the Leading and Learning Workshop, which specializes in peer support and community resources. When asked whether the program had helped her, Gaviria’s response was resoundingly positive. Thanks to them, she said, “I know more places where I can go to… try to be involved.” Gaviria adds that she would recommend the program to any new Hamiltonians who wish to better understand the city. For more information, or to request her artistic services, please contact Eddyth Gaviria at 

Education Pathway Schooling to meet employment goals page 7

Case for Inclusion An experience in discrimination page 11

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Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 16 • May & June 2012 • p.2

Letter from the Editor At the Immigrant Women’s Centre, we pride ourselves on creativity and collaboration. Creativity that breeds innovation and adaptability - and collaboration that unites the community to tackle the challenges present in our city. Amidst nation-wide austerity measures and changes in our immigration system, these two virtues are essential ingredients for survival and success as we work together to build the inclusive Hamilton that we long for. In this issue, we feature stories of creativity - of artists who are building their careers in Canada, and of organizations which are re-envisioning how to rise above the status-quo to achieve collective goals. We also feature stories of collaboration; of agencies working together to fight homelessness for youth, and of groups across the city doing their part in the fight against racism and sexism. On various levels, McMaster University has been strategic in connecting with the downtown Hamilton community, and the individuals and organizations that make up its network. At the Women’s Press, we have benefited from this collaboration strategy. We have had the opportunity of working with students from McMaster’s Gender Studies and Feminist Research Program to plan and implement this issue. Along with this, we have received submissions from McMaster’s Discovery Program. We are excited for these partnerships, and look forward to continued creative collaboration with other agencies in Hamilton. Cheers to Hamilton, Ines Rios, Executive Director Immigrant Women’s Centre 8 Main Street East, Suite 101 Hamilton, ON (905) 529-5209

Please send feedback, press releases and submissions to: Michelle at 905-529-5209 x257 or mdrew@stjosephwomen. View online at: www. womenspress. Founded in 1988, the Immigrant Women’s Centre is an equality seeking, anti-racist, charitable organization dedicated to the social, political and economic inclusion of refugee and immigrant women in a just and supportive Canadian society. The Centre is committed to enabling refugee and immigrant women to discover and build their new futures through skills development and settlement support.

Voicing history in Discovery Program By MarieAnge Brouillard, McMaster Discovery Program MarieAnge Brouillard participated in the McMaster Discovery Program, connecting community members with free university-level education. In this article, she shares her experience in the program. Life is funny sometimes; it sends you down a road you had no idea you’d be taking until it happens. So are things in my life. Through a series of events that began last summer, I have found myself making some changes to my life; good changes, scary changes, changes that have been long waiting, and changes that despite being scary, have been meant to occur. In the summer of 2011 a sheet of paper was pushed into my hands by a librarian, urging me to sign up for a free university-level class called Voicing Hamilton. This course was offered by a new pilot project called the McMaster Discovery Program at the library. I was one of the twenty adults chosen to attend the class and I loved the experience! As the class progressed, I had to decide what my project would be about. As a Métis woman, what became my choice was the history of the native peoples of the area before and after the Europeans. I originally thought I’d write about it, but the more I researched the subject, the more I felt that I had to illustrate my findings. I had done traditional pictograph drawings in the past and was familiar with the method, so that became my medium of expression. The method I used was traditional circular story telling, but I pushed it one further by interlinking the circular stories to make them a continuous story. I also made both wampum belts and the maps as well as all the babiche, which is tan cord, crocheted into thin rope for lashings. Graduation night came and went in December 2011, the end of the class, but not the end of my personal voyage. I was asked to give the closing remarks at the graduation. I allowed my spirit to guide me while I wrote my speech. Afterwards, many told me they loved what I said. I was glad that I could send the message out to others that this program is the answer to so many people who have never had the opportunity to attend university. January 2012 brought an invitation for the students of the class to display their projects at the Freeway Coffee House. In turn, this brought an invitation to speak to a group of elderly people who meet at the Freeway, about my project and the program. This was followed by an invitation to speak to

the university alumni alongside the professor who taught the class. Since then, I have received invitations to speak to various groups, write articles, and participate in broadcasts. I’ve also been invited to sit on the steering committee for the McMaster Discovery Program. I’ve accepted, and I look forward to contributing to the continued success of this program.

For many of the students, this turned out to be a voyage not only to discover Hamilton, but also of self-discovery. Through April, we were able to show our art pieces at the Central branch of the Hamilton Public Library. Again, I looked forward to relating the history of the native peoples in and around Hamilton to as many as I can. For many of the students, this turned out to be a voyage not only to discover

Hamilton, but also of self-discovery. Many discovered talents for writing, painting, drawing, documentary films, photography, poetry, and collage. The class taught us as students that we have voices, that we do matter and that we can express ourselves and be respected for it. The class empowered each and every one of us, and gave us confidence to pursue our goals, whatever they may be. I came away from this program with several new friends and with a renewed love of learning, a renewed sense of wonder at finding knowledge, of exploring areas of study that I had given up on or never knew about. I also came away with a new sense of value; that I have a voice, that I matter and that I can be a student and do what I want. And all this is leading me towards finding out how I can attend university as a part-time student. The field I’m interested in is Indigenous Studies, to continue my journey finding out who I am as a Métis woman. The McMaster Discovery Program’s Voicing Hamilton project will be on display at Open Streets Hamilton on June 24. 

1. What is the significance of MarieAnge’s project topic? 2. What is the purpose of the McMaster Discovery Program?


Discussion: What did MarieAnge experience in this program? What did she “come away” from the program with?

The Women’s Press I S E X PA N D I N G O N L I N E Our new website launches this July! Check the IWC site for more information.

W W W. I W C H A M I LT O N . C A Board Members Wanted! The Immigrant Women’s Centre is seeking Board Members with interest in settlement and integration of immigrant women and their families. For more information visit

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 16 • May & June 2012 • p.3


Is McMaster University School of Labour Studies for you? School of Labour Studies Degree Programs Michelle Falk, Alaina Almas and Alix MacLean at the Immigrant Women’s Centre.

New course bridges local agencies and university By Michelle Falk and Alix MacLean, McMaster University McMaster’s new graduate program in activism, and the study of gender, Gender Studies and Feminist Research sexuality and feminist issues. Putting has created a course called Knowledge in the theory we study into practice in the Action to be a core part of its curriculum. local community, finding ways to do that In this course, students are matched which are mutually beneficial to students up with local community organizations and community organizations, has been, to assist them in their advocacy and from the conception of this program, social justice work. Students learn considered to be of utmost importance.” from the organization while also Before we began our project, we contributing some of their research worked to keep these words in mind in skills and knowledge through a order to build a strong relationship with collaborative project. This academic the IWC. term, GSFR students partnered with In our meetings at the IWC’s several Hamilton community groups, downtown location, we had the such as the Immigrant Women’s Centre, opportunity to meet several women the YWCA, the Hamilton Status of working and volunteering with the Women Committee, The Well: The organization. We heard stories about LGBTQ Community Wellness Centre the challenges these women faced as of Hamilton, and Big Susie’s. Through new Canadians and thought about our this course, we (Michelle Falk, Alix own Canadian experience. We are all McLean and Alaina Almas) teamed up Canadian-born, and because of this, with Immigrant Women’s Centre staff to we wanted to be aware of the limits contribute to an issue of The Women’s of our knowledge, and be conscious Press. and respectful of these challenges and experiences. We learned so much from this collaboration. We are now able to “Putting the theory take the valuable knowledge we’ve gained from this project and use it to we study into practice in expand and enrich our own research on the local community... feminist and social justice issues. “The outcomes of working together has been, from the with these students on this issue of conception of this the Women’s Press have been very rewarding”, said Michelle Drew, program, considered Communications Coordinator at the to be of utmost Immigrant Women’s Centre. “Through this project we have been able to further importance.” connect newcomer women with safe spaces in the Hamilton community, Susan Fast, Director of McMaster’s while raising awareness about settlement Gender Studies and Feminist Research issues among the McMaster University program said, “Students in the community. The Knowledge in Action undergraduate Women’s Studies project is a practical, mutually beneficial program at McMaster had for a long program that maximizes the effectiveness time requested a practicum of some of student-agency partnerships”. kind, a way through which they could We hope to build on this work and connect with local organizations and forge stronger connections between events. When the new graduate program McMaster University and the Immigrant was developed, it seemed like a logical Women’s Centre in the future.  element to incorporate, given not only student demand, but because of the interconnection between social justice,

Interested in a university degree? McMaster School of Labour Studies, Canada’s premier Labour Studies Program, offers BA and MA degrees. Our courses are relevant to the changing worlds of contemporary work. Adult students are especially welcome. You can enrol part-time or full-time. We have both evening and daytime classes. Courses include: • Labour Law • Work and Racism • Gender, Sexuality and Work • Work: Dangerous to Your Health? • Unions in Action

Certificate in Labour Studies

McMaster University Labour Studies Certificate Programs are created with the needs of adults in mind. Our courses are taught in a supportive small group learning environment. Courses include: • Unions and Politics • Social Justice • Labour and the Arts • Labour History • Current Issues

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Photo by Joel Duff, courtesy of the Ontario Federation of Labour

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 16 • May & June 2012 • p.4

Accessible education plays a vital role in the social and economic inclusion of newcomers, and other often marginalized people groups in Hamilton. McMaster’s Discovery Program is a creative and safe learning environment for community members, creating an avenue of access.

Free art classes for newcomer children and youth By Jahan Zeb, Community Connections

Final projects on display at the Freeway Café and Hamilton Public Library from students in McMaster’s Discovery program in downtown Hamilton.

Learning and Discovery By Jeanette Eby, McMaster Discovery Program

Instead of a bounded box, why not imagine a classroom as an open system of relationships? What if we think of the classroom as a dynamic space of learning? Imagine learning that encompasses different kinds of knowledge, not only based in theories and facts but also coming from the spirit, and from our experiences and emotions. This dynamic classroom would not simply be a physical, visible space, but the space between people and the less visible, but equally real, space between our hearts and minds. Within these spaces, it is possible to connect with each other, share stories, and care for each other and our place. This classroom may move us beyond mere knowledge, towards understanding. This type of classroom is what was created through the pilot course of the McMaster Discovery Program, entitled Voicing Hamilton: History, Arts, Expression. It was a free university-level humanities course offered to adults in Hamilton that was introduced in the fall of 2011. By providing access and support, the McMaster Discovery Program tried to disrupt and dismantle some of the significant barriers to education that many experience. The first group of learners met on a series of Saturday mornings at the Hamilton Public Library, downtown branch. We placed the tables and chairs around the room so that we were sitting in a circle. On the first day, the group was both nervous and excited. Nobody really knew what to expect – as few of the students had known each other before entering the program. But what happened in that room was almost like magic: people opened up, walls were brought down and we were all learning together. After the first couple of classes, one of the students remarked “we came in here as a bunch of individuals, but what we’ve formed is a community”. There was a “give

and take” mentality amongst everyone in the room. We were all excited about whatever we were reading that week; we got to meet most of the authors and artists from our courseware; we asked critical questions; we related what we were learning to our own situations. T h r o u g h history, arts and expression we were able to explore the many different stories that our city has been built upon, the many different cultures that have been a part of it, and our own stories that continue to, collectively, shape our city. The shared ownership of the class took us in unexpected and wonderful directions. We listened to each other, sharing from our own knowledge and experience and being open to what others had to say. Assumptions were challenged and many of us came to see Hamilton in a new light. We also came to see each other in a new light. We are all people from different backgrounds living and learning in this world together with unique gifts and capacities to bring to the table. In this listening atmosphere confidence and creativity were nurtured and revealed in many different forms. We created a place of welcome: a dynamic space of learning and discovery; a space that was safe and supportive; a space of telling and listening, giving and receiving. The outcome of this pilot program was beyond what I think any of us had imagined. Everyone chose a final project to complete on a topic that they were passionate about. They had the option of using a medium that they felt most connected to whether it was prose,

“Through history, arts, and expression we were able to explore the many different stories our city has been built upon [...]”

poetry, painting, photography, video all of them were different expressions of Hamilton. One student remarked that one of the most important things she learned was that “not everything is black and white”. As we go about our lives now, we are relating to Hamilton and to each other in a new way. I feel a responsibility to continue to share this experience in academia and in the community, because I see it as an example of creating healthier relationships in multiple, interconnected ways. These reciprocal relationships help us blur the lines between “us” and “them”; between McMaster and the wider Hamilton community; between diverse individuals from many ages and backgrounds. A place of welcome is open to possibility, where everyone has a voice and is valued. This world is too often an unwelcoming place where many voices are silenced, whether it is at home, in the workplace, in the broader community. Conventional education can be silencing, along with the structures and systems that inhibit people from having the freedom to choose and fulfill their unique potential. By knowing our voices are heard and considered, one can continue to develop that voice as well as hear and consider the voices of others. By sharing with and listening to each other we all become richer; we may have different points of view, but we are challenged to think differently, expand our horizons, and to come to new places of understanding that did not exist before. 

“A place of welcome is open to possibility, where everyone has a voice and is valued.”

1. What is the purpose of the Discovery Program?


2. What did participants in the program experience?

Discussion: What do you think makes a place feel welcoming?

HARRRP is introducing immigrant and refugee kids and youth to a culture of positive co-existence, personal and professional development and to enable them to develop their individual and natural personality through diverse art forms including music, drums, theatre and pottery. At the end of the 10 lessons, the kids and youth will be provided with opportunities to showcase their work through a pottery exhibition, songs, music and a theatre performance to their peers, family, friends and the wider community. The youth will be taught from experienced instructors including Keith Hamilton, Lil Acevedo, David Carrillo, Lily Small and Kathryn Stachyra. This program also provides an opportunity for immigrants, refugees, and residents of neighbourhood hubs to volunteer and assist instructors in delivering art lessons, help students in their activities, and prepare coffee and tea for parents. These lessons are provided through financial support from the Hamilton Community Foundation. Lessons run from April 14 to June 16 at 705 Main St E. For information call 905 544-0050. 

Parenting Answers By Nancy Harrower, Ontario Early Years

Are you a parent of a child 0-6 years old with questions about your child’s development, behaviour, vision, nutritional needs, dental health or speech and language development? The Ontario Early Years Centres are now offering ‘Check It Out’ Dropins where you have the opportunity to meet with community professionals and seek advice. Professionals will be available to meet with parents and their children to offer consultation. Where appropriate, they may also supply referrals. The drop-ins will promote healthy growth and development for your children, and give you relevant, accessible care. The drop-Ins are free; no appointment is needed and families are seen on a first-come, first-served basis. Children must be accompanied by their parent or legal guardian or have completed a consent form for a designated person to take their child. These forms are available at Ontario Early Years Centre locations. For information on Check It Out dates, times and locations, contact an Ontario Early Years Centre (OEYC) Site, Health Connections (905) 546-3550 or the Hamilton Early Years Information Line (905) 524-4884. 

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 16 • May & June 2012 • p.5

Volunteering increases skills for employment

By Evelyna Kay, Grade 11, Westdale Secondary School

The IWC is looking for volunteers!


Volunteering offers numerous longterm benefits, including practical work experience, professional references, networking opportunities and valuable community contributions. Ofelia Ramirez has discovered this firsthand, as someone who has used volunteering to improve her situation and increase her opportunities. Recently appointed to the position of fill-in Administrative Assistant for the Immigrant Women’s Centre, Ramirez now speaks of her experience as a volunteer with pride. According to Ramirez, many of the skills which earned her a paid position are the product of the volunteer work she participated in upon immigrating to Canada, as well as her experience in her home country. Prior to coming to Canada, she worked at a large university in Guadalajara, Mexico doing administrative work. “I think it was in 2011 [that I first

began volunteering],” said Ramirez. “I started helping the counsellors with filing…and checking everything was in order, and then I helped…in the office.” Ramirez cites the time spent volunteering around her eventual workplace as a contributing factor in her ability to work efficiently. Due to her responsibility, Ramirez is able to relate to, and recognize the needs of clients, providing the best possible aid. Ramirez did not, however, begin volunteering right away. Before attempting to gain practical work experience, she took advantage of several of the courses offered by the Immigrant Women’s Centre. “First of all, I took a workshop about job research, and then I took different computer classes,” said Ramirez, when asked about the steps she implemented in order to gain experience and knowledge. “I [also] took the Telephone

Skills program,” she added, “and after, I improved my confidence [with talking to people].” Her studies and her willingness to develop her skills have certainly paid off. After spending almost a year as a volunteer, Ramirez has gained temporary employment at the Immigrant Women’s Centre, filling in for administrative absences. This success is not the end of her aspirations, however. With finances to support her, Ramirez now hopes to use her training and abilities to improve the situation of others. “[…] I took [a] course on counseling techniques,” Ramirez said, “and I hope that in the future I can help […]people. I know that, especially with immigrants, I would like to help them, support them and guide them.” 

If you are interested in gaining experience, building your resume, or developing your skills while supporting newcomer women, the IWC offers occasional and ongoing volunteer opportunities. Right now these opportunities include: fundraising; office support; computer lab support; basic computer skills teachers; administrative support; and special events. There are also volunteer positions available at the IWC’s Montcalm Community House, where Math and English Homework Club assistants are needed. If you are interested in applying you can visit the IWC website at www. or email linc@

1. What helped prepare Ofelia for volunteering?


2. What did volunteering prepare her for?

Discussion: What skills would you like to learn that you could learn volunteering?

Building Pathways (cont’d) who might not have otherwise been aware of some of the challenges they face. This Photo Voice exhibit signifies the relationship between McMaster and newcomer women. Although the hallway is a place of passing, the Photo Voice project encourages students to stay and share their own stories while they learn about another’s.  1. Why is the relationship with McMaster and Hamilton important?

McMaster President Patrick Deane stands with Hadsen Mohamed and Radenka Lescesen of the IWC at the exhibit opening.

- Contined from Page 1 “I think, is really significant,” noted Deane, at the exhibit opening. Displayed in the President’s Hallway, the Photo Voice Project has caught the attention of both students and staff at McMaster. This location was accessible to the McMaster community and created a space for anyone on campus to stop in and see it. The project collaboration was organized by Adam Kuhn, Manager of Community Service Learning at McMaster, who saw the exhibit at its premiere and knew it would have an impact on campus. Deane stressed the importance of McMaster hosting the project as a sign of building alliances between the campus and the greater Hamilton community. “It’s—I hope—just the beginning of a long-term relationship with you and your families, and the organizations

of which you’re a part - and bring this community… into the campus of the university.” When asked about the relationship between the McMaster community and Hamilton newcomers, Deane spoke about McMaster’s responsibility. He said, “We are an educational institution and it is through being educators and offering educators to the community that we can be most helpful.” Salado, one of the seven women photographers, thanked the women involved in the project for their hard work, and said, “The first time we did the project we didn’t know plenty of people who would care about our story, but when we did it we had a lot amazing people who cared like you, and gave us opportunity to share our experience with you”. She thanked the crowd for sharing the experiences of the Somali women behind the project, and

expressed her gratefulness for receiving such support. By displaying the women’s photographs and voices, the experience of these and other newcomer women could be shared with a wider audience


2. Why was Salado thankful?

Discussion: Are you interested in university or college? Why or why not?

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 16 • May & June 2012 • p.6

Pottery is ‘a way of life’ for local artist

By Evelyna Kay, Grade 11, Westdale Secondary School


Making pottery is not an occupation that many people would consider pursuing, but for Lamyaa AlQadhi, the art-form is a way of life. AlQadhi, an Iraq native, has worked as a professional potter since 1995, earning herself an excellent reputation in her country’s artistic community. Even before beginning to work independently, she was very involved in pottery. “I started in 1986,” she explained,” and worked under the supervision of a famous Iraqi, Ablaa Alzawi, for five years. After that she said to me ‘you can start on your own.’” Given permission to work alone, AlQadhi quickly became involved in her chosen field, opening her own workshop and presenting exhibitions. As involved as she was in her own career, though, she still found time to enrich her community. “I was an instructor in a summer school, and a children’s counsellor in a hospital. Mostly [I worked] with children who [were] ill and [had] to stay in the hospital… [I] started doing just simple pottery and art [with them] to keep them busy and active.” AlQadhi enjoyed several years of prosperity and success in Iraq, but with the escalation of the war, and the increased danger it presented, her situation rapidly deteriorated. Forced to leave Iraq in what she described as “a hurry,” AlQadhi was unable to take any of her work with her to Egypt, where she initially fled. Now, living in Canada, AlQadhi is still attempting to rebuild her life. “Back home,” she explained, “I didn’t have any barriers, but you know, since I came here, the [biggest] barrier for me is the financial things. I don’t know the labour market very well.” While she intends to continue her career as an artist, AlQadhi concedes that it is difficult to survive in such

a field without financial support, and considers it necessary to have a separate occupation which can provide additional revenue. “My first profession was an administrative assistant,” she stated, adding that she has a diploma in office management. Despite the difficulty of her situation, AlQadhi has persevered. Upon arriving in Canada, she participated in several programs at the Immigrant Women’s Centre, including Job Search Workshops, and Leading and Learning. Now, she volunteers as a peer support worker at the Centre, and has even managed to find employment with the Immigrant Culture Art Association of Hamilton. She currently works there as an advanced pottery instructor, and hopes to eventually attain the same popularity and success she experienced in Iraq. “My long-term goal,” she explained, “is to open my ceramic studio again, here in Canada.” AlQadhi, thankful for her position, expressed gratitude to the ICAA for providing her with the opportunity. She feels that the importance of art in a community is unparalleled, and was quick to recommend that any recent immigrants with an interest in art become involved with the organization. 

“AlQadhi quickly became involved in her chosen field, opening her own workshop and presenting exhibitions.”

1.Where did Lamyaa teach pottery in Iraq?


2. What was Lamyaa’s biggest barrier in Canada?

Discussion: What programs or organizations have assisted Lamyaa in overcoming her barriers?

Conference held to inspire Immigrant youth artists By Alix MacLean, McMaster University

Being a teenager can be hard. Being a teenager in a new and different culture can be even harder. The Immigrant Culture and Art Association of Hamilton recently organized their first Youth Conference to find out about the diverse cultural experiences of newcomer youth. This conference brought young people together for cross-cultural conversations about art and culture, and offered youth a platform to discuss the cultural barriers they face in their everyday lives. Some topics discussed included language barriers, shyness, and family pressures and expectations. The ICAA is in the process of preparing a detailed report of the conference findings and outcomes. The conference was part of the Immigrant Youth Leadership and Career Focus project, which is led by the ICAA as part of the Youth Opportunities Program. ICAA Executive Director, Marufa Shinwari, said the conference was primarily run by youth; though there was an adult facilitator, the youth led much of the discussion. Shinwari felt the

event was a success and looks forward to expanding the conference next year. Through the conference, the ICAA recruited eighteen youth leaders to form a committee for planning and running future conferences.

Oakville, and Mohawk College. She added, that the goal of the ICAA is “to encourage students to grow as artists, and make art a career choice”. Through their mentorship program, the ICAA also assists newcomer artists

“This conference brought young people together for cross cultural conversations about art and culture, and offered youth a platform to discuss the cultural barriers they face in their everyday lives.” The Youth Conference is one of many youth-based activities offered by the ICAA. They offer classes in painting, drawing, pottery, music and dance throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons. They also have a booth for students at the Hamilton Art Market held each summer at the International Village, where students can present and sell their artwork. Shinwari said that many of the ICAA’s art students go on to study art, animation and illustration at places like Sheridan College in

of all ages. The program offers one-onone mentorship with an established artist in the Hamilton community. The mentorship program connects new artists with services, helps them acquire art supplies and aids them in the preparation and organization of their first exhibition. The ICAA also helps artists prepare grant applications and recommends artists to the Ontario Arts Council. The ICAA is currently developing additional workshops for introducing newcomer artists to social

media, and creating their own blogs and websites to showcase their work. The more than 200 artists mentored so far have already demonstrated a desire to give back to the ICAA and the wider community. Some of the mentored artists work as volunteers and instructors for the ICAA. “When we empower the artists, we also want them to contribute to the community”, said Shinwari. Learn more about the ICAA at 

1. Why did the ICAA hold a conference for youth?


2. What art classes do they offer for newcomers?

Discussion: What is your favourite art activity? Would you be interested in becoming involved in the ICAA?

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices.

Issue 16 • May & June 2012 • p.7



1) Go to a Settlement Counsellor at an agency. Discuss career opportunities.


Canadian Language Benchmark Placement Adult education often requires a high CLB score. For an assessment, contact the YMCA at 905-526-8452.

Adult Basic Education will direct you to the appropriate adult education centre. If you need further assistance contact a Settlement Counsellor at an agency.

Get an assessment and information at: Adult Basic Education - 905-527-2222




Do you have a regulatory body or Professional Association for your career in Canada? Check here:


Based on their suggestions and assessment, upgrade your education.


Meet with Program Chair at the school for the program you are considering. Do you need to upgrade your education to get into the program?

Private College vs. Public College Before you choose between a private college and community college please consider the following: Do employers, regulatory bodies, or the Ministry of College and Universities recongize education from this school? Often private schools are more expensive than public colleges or universities and less recognized by employers.

Consider: a) are there a lot of jobs in this field? b) Is this a suitable career for your lifestyle? Choose a program at university of college of your choice.

World Education Services Canada 1-866-343-0700 | or International Credential Assessment Service of Canada 1-800-321-6021

2) With their consultation have a foreign Creditiential Assesment contact:

1) Make an appointment with an Settlement Counsellor at an agency.

No working/OI_How_Work_Prof_ Profs.html



2. Contact a Settlement Counsellor at an agency.

1. Do they say you need more training? Work with the regulatory body to determine employment


Ask them if they have a bridging program for immigrants. Do they access your foreign credentials internally?


This settlement tool was developed based on the education barriers identified by participants in the Leading and Learning workshop through the Immigrant Women’s Centre, Hamilton. For more information contact Brooke at 905-529-5209 x223.

Start the application process online: University:


Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 2011 •• p.8 p.8 Issue 11 16 • May & June 2012

Free Library Programs

Local artists and writers share a ‘platform to learn’ By Alaina Almas, McMaster University

LINC 3+ Why Must We Die: Part 2, John Terpstra

“Not only is HA&L a platform to learn about aspects of Hamilton from the perspectives of the featured artists, but it is a way to connect online with how different and likeminded people are interpreting Hamilton’s development.” Hamilton Arts & Letters (HA&L) is an online magazine featuring art, literature, and commentary from and about Hamilton. Self-described as “a cultural laboratory where you will find the ethos of a place,” this online magazine is a space for experimentation, teaching, and searching through both writing and illustration. Importantly, the subject material for this site focuses on experiences to do with the city of Hamilton. It is written about the city, and by people either living in the city or somehow associated with it. Edited and produced by Paul Lisson, Fiona Kinsella and Peter Stevens, HA&L is a biannual online publication released in the spring and fall. The most recent issue features variations of art, narration, and documentation. Supportive of many different characteristics and art/narrative displays, HA&L maintains interest because of the unique qualities each

art piece possesses. The main theme— the growth of the community—is demonstrated in different ways, such as the focus on architecture in the piece Why Must We Die: Part 2 by John Terpstra.

HA&L maintains interest because of the unique qualities each art piece possesses. This strong and ongoing piece on Hamilton and the different generations who have occupied its spaces looks specifically at the architecture of the past and how it has remained into the present. It looks at the constructions and breakdowns that have gone on in the city. It shows ongoing change and activity as to how the ‘ethos’ has

altered throughout the generations of its occupants. In a place that is constantly changing, seeing the age of the architecture tells a story, which is revealed by Terpstra’s work. One online reader noted, “I’m new to Hamilton, so it’s neat seeing different spots in the city that the photos have focussed on. In a way I feel, like, more connected to the places I see...this city is growing on me.” Not only is HA&L a platform to learn about aspects of Hamilton from the perspectives of the featured artists, but it is a way to connect online with how different and like-minded people are interpreting Hamilton’s development. Be part of it and connect with HA&L by visiting the website or contact directly via email at HALmagazine@ and share in the online cultural laboratory. 

Addressing housing among street-involved youth By Erika Morton, Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton The partners of the Youth Housing The committee is often multi tasking Support Team are pleased to inform because there is need to address the the community that there will be an complex issues among street-involved additional two years of funding for youth in order for them to become and housing homeless youth in Hamilton. remain housed. The Youth Housing Support Team Housing workers must possess a impact in the community due to the (YHST) is a project funded by the complex set of skills and knowledge, demands for services and the large Homelessness Partnering Strategy. such as fostering relationships with population of homeless youth. Partnering on the project are the landlords, networking and making The early intervention service Street Youth Planning Collaborative connections with various community worker position has been removed (SYPC), the Catholic Children’s Aid partners, having strong familiarity with from the project, creating a critical gap Society of Hamilton and the Children’s community resources, and navigation in services. The youth that accessed Aid Society of Hamilton. The key of systems, such as Ontario Works, services with the early intervention components of the YHST worker were prevented include early intervention from entering the shelter services, and supports for Accessing the YHST is often a doorway for system and kept youth finding and maintaining youth to be able to address additional needs or united within their family housing. home. Since the project’s issues in their lives. Youth who have inception in 2009, the taken the opportunity to YHST has been effectively engage with the YHST have worked interrupting youth homelessness child welfare and housing providers. successfully to make the exit from streetpathways in Hamilton. Accessing the Advocacy and mediation work, such as involvement and to move towards a life YHST is often a doorway for youth to to address concerns with landlords and that fosters stability and well being. be able to address additional needs or OW, are a significant piece of the team’s Moving forward, the project’s issues in their lives. work. partners have a redeveloped a YHST Through the YHST’s flexible service When youth speak of the YHST, they model that will provide integral delivery model, youth have been able to recognize how they were connected housing supports for street-involved address the other areas impacting their with a worker who supported, youth; however, there will impacts to lives such as mental health, addictions, educated, advocated, and aided in their housing resources for street-involved family conflict, lacking positive role transition from street-involvement and and homeless youth in Hamilton.  models or mentors, lacking life skills homelessness to finding a home that and abusive relationships, and being was safe and stable. 1. What position has a young parent. The broader context The budget allocation, at 40%, is been removed due of the youth that the team engages significantly lower than in previous to cuts in funding? with considers that street-involved years, which resulted in the partners’ 2. How will youth are marginalized and alienated working together to restructure this impact the from the community, disengaged from services. The team will continue to LINC 5+ community? institutions, and lack the traditional support youth to find and move into support systems that are pivotal to safe and stable housing, but, there will Discussion: What additional needs youth’s well being and trajectory be a decrease in the numbers of youth impact street-involved youth? towards adulthood. served, which will have a recognizable

The Hamilton Public Library offers many great programs! For more information go to the website: www. Job Discovery Centres: Seeking employment? The Hamilton Public Library has resources and information which can prove crucial for job hunting. Job Discovery Centres can be found at the Barton, Dundas, Red Hill, Sherwood, and Terryberry locations. Individual help can be arranged by appointment. Reading Buddies: Reading Buddies is an educational program for children ages 7 to 12 which allows participants to improve their reading skills under individual instruction from a young adult. The program can be accessed from most locations, including Barton, Central, Dundas, Kenilworth, Red Hill, Saltfleet, Sherwood, Stoney Creek, Terryberry, Turner Park, Valley Park, and Westdale. English as a Second Language: ESL programs provide education for newcomers. The emphasis is on literacy and life-learning. While there are ESL centres dispersed throughout the city, and made available by a wide variety of organizations, the main location is the Learning Centre, which can be found on the fourth floor of the Central Library. The Learning Centre offers group lessons in pronunciation, writing, listening and speaking, as well as a one-to-one English tutoring program. Free Flix for All Ages: Free Flix is a program which allows its participants to view popular films without cost. Screening locations include the Central, Dundas, Red Hill, Saltfleet, Sherwood and Turner Park branches. Volunteer Opportunities: The Hamilton Public Library provides volunteer opportunities to both teens and adults. This is an excellent way to gain work experience and credentials, and allows teenagers to earn their mandatory community involvement hours for high school. Conversation Circles: Conversation Circles are a great way to improve communication skills, and to connect with other Hamilton residents. The circles accept all participants, with no regard for literacy level or status. Conversations take place at the Central branch from 4:30pm to 6pm every Tuesday and Thursday. The program is also available at the Red Hill library on Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30pm to 8pm, and at the Terryberry library from 4:30pm to 6pm every Monday and Thursday. Story Times: Story Time is a chance for children and families to experience the joy of reading in a group situation. Baby Time, which exposes infants to language, is held on Tuesdays at 2pm. Toddler Time runs at 10:30am on Tuesdays, and two Family Story Time sessions are available, one at 10:30am on Thursday, and the other at 10:30am on Saturday. Sessions are 30 – 45 minutes long, and generally continue for 8 weeks. 

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 16 • May & June 2012 • p.9

Gender Equity Club seeks to ‘end sexism’ at Westdale By Evelyna Kay, Grade 11, Westdale Secondary School Women have come a long way in the struggle for equality, but Westdale Secondary School’s Gender Equity Club isn’t ready to stop fighting. Founded in November of 2010, Gender Equity Club’s mission is exactly what its name would suggest: to end all forms of sexism within the high school it represents. Its members— all female, despite efforts to attract a more diverse range of participants— are enthusiastic and engaged. They are currently working on a campaign to promote positive body image, but their intentions as a group far exceed the parameters of physical ideals. Club members claim to be concerned, first and foremost, with drawing attention to sexism, and reminding their peers that equity between genders has yet to be achieved. “Men still hold a majority of the powerful, high paying jobs in our society,” said Grade 10 student and Gender Equity Club member Maddie Hill. “Only one quarter of the seats in parliament are held by women.” “I don’t believe that, if true equality had been reached…there would still be groups aiming to achieve that,” another member, Rachel Hasselman added. When asked what they considered necessary in order to eliminate sexism, most students interviewed were in agreement that the education system should take responsibility.

“We need larger role models […] We’re going to have to read books with more prominent characters [from both genders],” a Grade 12 student, Tim Walma said. While not a member of Gender Equity Club, he identifies as a feminist, and attempts to counter sexism wherever he sees it.

“Equity between genders has yet to be achieved.“ Another Grade 12 student, Julia Stacey, suggested that gender equity be included in the school’s health curriculum. Since the program is mandatory for all students in Grade 9, it seems a logical place to start. Several of the young women interviewed also expressed outrage at the sexism they confront on a daily basis, both at school, and in their personal lives. “I’m not allowed to go for walks or biking at night, and my brother can,” said Hasselman. Maddie Hill expanded on Hasselman’s example, saying that “It’s almost as if [women are] taught to be afraid of men.” She also shared a story about being one of the only females in her “GENDER EQUITY” means being fair to women and men, while compensating for historical barriers.

1. What is the purpose of the Gender Equity Club?


2.Why is this group important?

“GENDER EQUALITY” means opportunities, resources and rewards are equally enjoyed by women and men.

Discussion: What is the difference between equity and equality?



MOUNTAIN SITE 1119 Fennell Ave E #236


REBECCA SITE 182 Rebecca St


BARTON SITE 2255 Barton St E


MONTCALM SITE 45 Montcalm Dr #43


Grade 10 Auto Mechanics class, where several of her male contemporaries referred to sexually active women as “used goods,” diminishing them to objects devoid of personality or intelligence. Gender Equity Club is currently the only group in Westdale devoted entirely to the eradication of sexism, but Grade 10 student Eve Freedman hopes to change this. Not content with the bland neutrality of the club’s name, she intends to start a young feminist’s club, in an effort to reclaim the term, which has been given a negative connotation by the media and societal perception. “It’s really bull…how being a feminist is supposed to be this really

shameful thing,” said Freedman, when asked about her preference for the word. “...People always say ‘Oh, I don’t identify as a feminist because I think they’re too militant.’ Well, no. You make your own type of feminist, and you can be whatever…you want.” Regarding sex education, Freedman’s advice was very simple: “Stop teaching women how not to get raped, and start teaching men how not to rape.” While every student phrased their opinions differently, one idea recurred: there needs to be dialogue about sexism, and that dialogue must occur in schools. 


THE JOB SEARCH WORKSHOPS PROGRAM IS YOUR FIRST STEP! CALL TODAY! The Job Search Workshops Program is now available in your community. If you are new to Canada, our program is ideal for you. Develop the skills you need to find employment as quickly as possible  1 on 1 job search coaching  Pre-employment training  Personalized needs assessment action plan, and job interview preparation  Learn about job search strategies and Canadian business perspectives

Coordinated by COSTI and OCASI

Call today to find out about start times, dates, day, evening and weekend workshops, and your eligibility for childcare and transportation services while in the program at selected locations.

905-529-5209 OR 905-525-9676

Join us at the Immigrant Women’s Centre! On-site childminding with all daytime programs.

Information Sessions

Job Search Workshops

Main Site: May 9 1pm to 3pm | Dental Health May 16 1pm to 3pm | Peronal Safety and Domestic Violence May 29 1pm to 3pm | Summer Camp and Recreational Program Mountain Site: May 10 10am to 11:30am | Visa and Sponsorship May 23 10:30am - 11:30am | Personal Safety and Domestic Violence May 30 10:30am - 12noon | Why Children are Not Listening Rebecca Site: May 4 10am - 11am | Bullying: What Can We Do? May 9 2pm - 3pm | High Blood Pressure

The Job Search Workshops (JSW) program is a five day workshop that will give you the job search tools that will help you succeed in the Canadian job market. The program runs Monday to Friday, 9am - 12pm. (Module 2 - Rebecca) | May 8 - 11 (Module 1) May 22 - 25 (Module 2) June 5 - 8 (Module I Mountain) June 19 - 22 (Module 2 Mountain)

Skills for Work & Life Prepare for your G1 Driver’s License! Learn the rules of the road. Main Site: June 4 - 20, Mondays and Wednesdays 9:30 - 11:30pm First Aid & CPR Certification: Earn Canadian Red Cross certification. Get training to act on, prevent and manage life’s emergencies! May 17 & 18 at Main Site. Call Main, Mountain or Rebecca for more information.

Prepare for the Citizenship Test! Every second Monday and Tuesday of the month from 2-4pm (Barton) Every third Monday & Tuesday from 2-4pm (Main) Every fourth Monday & Tuesday 10am-12pm (Mountain)

Leading and Learning Attend an eight week workshop. Learn about housing and employment rights and responsibilities. Learn leadership skills. Contact Brooke for more info and upcoming workshops at 905-529-5209 x223.

Learn, work, grow.

Improve Your Language Skills! English: LINC classes start January (Main, Rebecca, Mountain) Workplace Communication & Telephone Skills: Bridge to Employment. Obtain practical customer service experience! Program for CLB 5 only. Monday - Friday 9am -12pm (Main)

Computer Classes Basic Computer & Internet, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Powerpoint: May 10 - 25 (Main) June 7 - 22 (Main) September 13-28 (Main) More Computer Classes: Call sites for more information, dates, and registration (Rebecca, Mountain).

Volunteer Training Want to volunteer at the IWC? Learn more about our volunteering opportunities at our training session. July 4 at Main Site and October 3 at Main Site. For more information call Brooke at 905-529-5209 x223.

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 16 • May & June 2012 • p.10


Books & movies with a social justice and women focus | LINC 4+

BOOK: Little Princes Author: Conor Grennan Review by: Nada Tuta, Immigrant Women’s Centre The magnificence of nature, the richness of the culture, the diverse ethnic groups and the religions of Himalayan countries have captured my interest for years, particularly in the country of Nepal. However, I really did not have a good sense of the poverty, child trafficking and hardship of the children in Nepal until recently, when I read Little Princes. This book by Conor Grennan, gave me a deeperunderstanding of the social situation that exists in Nepal, a country I had adored for years without knowing its deep social and political complexities. Twenty-nine-year-old Conor Grennan began his journey around the globe with three months of volunteering at an orphanage in civil war-torn Nepal. The shocking

truth would change his life: these resilient children were not orphans but had been taken from their families by a child trafficker who falsely promised to keep them safe

“Conor and his new friend, Farid, started a dangerous and dedicated mission to reconnect these children with their parents.” and provide them with a good education before abandoning them in the chaos of Kathmandu. The child trafficker would turn them out into streets or sell them as slaves.

Conor and his new friend, Farid, started a dangerous and dedicated mission to reconnect these children with their parents. It would be impossible to go through this process without Conor’s and his friend’s incredible gift to be involved in Nepali culture. Conor is honest about the hard realities of Nepali life and the corruption found there, but he writes beautifully, passionately, and from the heart about the people, and the children he and Farid have grown to love. His humor shines throughout the story making it very entertaining to read. I highly recommend this book, as it has inspired me to make one of my life dreams a reality. I am going to Nepal to spent several weeks at the Sunrise orphanage in 2013. 

FILM: A Separation Writer and Director: Asghar Farhadi Review by: Alix MacLean, McMaster University A Separation is an Iranian film that recently won the Best Foreign Film award at the 2012 Academy Awards. The film tells the story of a middleclass married couple who are faced with a difficult decision: whether to leave Iran for a better education for their daughter, or whether to stay in Tehran and take care of a parent who has Alzheimer’s disease. The wife wants to leave while the husband wants to stay to care for his elderly father. The film begins with the couple, Sirin and Nader, attempting to get a divorce in Tehran. Sirin, the wife, ends up moving out of their apartment, forcing Nader to hire a woman to look after his ailing father. There is a mysterious accident one day involving Nader and the hired woman, and each ends up charging the other with a crime. The courts become involved and the movie details the suspenseful trial. A Separation is a sad film featuring tragic characters and unhappy circumstances. The script is well-written, with realistic characters and suspenseful pacing. The performances by the lead actors, Leila Hatami, Peyman Moadi, Sareh Bayat, and Sarinah Farhadi are excellent.

It is the first Iranian film to win an Academy Award. In the 1990s there was a strong national cinema in Iran, but in the last ten years censorship by the government has become more common. The film’s director Asghar Farhadi has avoided government censorship by focusing on character-driven stories about family politics instead of state politics, although there are subtle critiques of the Iranian government and laws throughout the movie. In his acceptance speech at the Academy Awards Farhadi said: “At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy. They are happy not just because of an important award or a film or filmmaker, but because at the time when talk of war, intimidation, and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country Iran is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics. I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.” A Separation will be released on DVD in May 2012. It is in Farsi with English subtitles. 

“It is the first Iranian film to win an Academy Award.”


Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 16 • May & June 2012 • p.11

Resumé Writing Tips By Doris Carranza, Immigrant Women’s Centre The first step in realizing your career potential is to have a solid resumé. Your resume must be pleasing to the eye, clear, and easy to read. To improve your resume, keep the following tips in mind. - Do not use coloured paper. White or ivory paper is much more professional. Choose an easy to read font such as Arial or Times New Roman at size 12. Limit your use of bolding and italicizing to titles and subtitles, as extra can clutter the page and make it difficult to read. - Ensure your contact information is complete. Provide your full address and telephone number, and make sure you have an answering machine set up so you can receive messages. Be sure your email address is professional; it’s best to use your first name and last name. Check your e-mail frequently to ensure you do not miss an interview invitation. - Not all job seekers need to include an objective on their resumé. It all depends on the job you are applying for. You can use an objective, but only if you are going to apply without a cover letter. For example, if you apply for a customer service position the objective should be: To obtain employment as a Customer Service Representative and increase sales within the store. - Write your resumé according to the job you are applying to. Take the time to write an effective resume, proofreading and editing it before it is finalized. Double check your spelling. Read your resume out loud to help you catch errors. Try getting a professional to review it to suggest further changes. - Work Experience or employment history should be in chronological order from your last job. It should include the company name, job title, job length, and duties or responsibilities. The education should be in chronological order including all the programs you have completed; name and location of the school, and the year you completed the programs. - Do not forget to include professional development, including courses and trainings that you have participated in. It shows your potential employer that you are always interested in improving your skills. - Know your resumé. In the job interview, employers may ask questions specifically about things on your resumé, and you have to be able to answer confidently. You should be able to discuss each point on your resume in detail, so when they ask specifics you will not be caught off guard.  1. Why shouldn’t you use coloured paper?


2. Why should you be able to discuss your resumé?

Discussion: What tip did you find was the most helpful?

What women are talking about...


First-year McMaster students react to IWC’s Photo Voice exhibit.

How do you feel after seeing the stories and photos? Compiled by Michelle Falk Emily Edward “I was very naïve about newcomers coming in. I know now about how many obstacles they face when they get to Canada. The little things I take for granted could pose such a challenge for them. Once they get here we think the challenge is over but its not what they expect. The struggle is not over once they get to Canada.”

Nicki Varkevisser “A sense of community is important, other people need to understand the challenges they face. Peer support is important to help other newcomers. I realize now how alone you can feel without other people to help you.”

Lauren Shaw “A lot of people assume once a newcomer immigrates the job is done but there’s so much more that comes after. It’s not just the physical location. We should make sure people can properly adjust to their new life.”

Meigan Dolbec “I’m just shocked by how society doesn’t know how difficult it is for newcomers. I didn’t know about all the discrimination they face.”

Renee Campbell-Sobers “[The Photo Voice project] shows the importance of having a support system because it’s already hard to leave your home to come to a new place and not be treated as a person.”

Jennifer Hamilton “[The Photo Voice project] made me think of how I go through life and how easy it is. I never have to think about the government and access to services. Their lives are so much more difficult than I would ever imagine.”

Tara Speers “The pictures represent the reality of newcomer’s stories. It made it more personal to put a face to the name. I realized the differences they face to earn an accepted place. It’s so different than the majority believes. We have so many misconceptions about their experiences.”

Opinion: A case for inclusion By Jennifer Velasquez

Are we less of a person because we don’t speak English language as fluently as those who are Canadian-born? “Are you from India?” I was asked this question numerous times while working in a call centre, as soon as they heard my voice. Sometimes, I just let it go and answered, “No I am not from India” and they usually then asked, “where are you located?” to which I would reply “Ontario, Canada”. ”Thank God, you are in Canada!” they would often exclaim. These comments came in various forms and nuances and sometimes my heart would long to defend itself. It felt like an attack on my personhood. Deep down, I am offended and I consider this an affront to my dignity as a person. I know I speak English with an accent but it doesn’t make me less than an individual. Although I am

not from India, I feel for those who are from India and for a host of people who are not Canadian-born. Are we less of a person because we don’t speak English language as fluently as those who are Canadian-born? The skill and perseverance it takes to learn a language and culture that is very different from our home, is a testament of our tolerance; our capacity to go beyond our comfort zone and understand one another by trying to communicate in English words, in English phrases and in English sentences. Would one not do the same to understand our accent? Would one tried to go beyond their language to learn something totally different? I bet if one

had, they would know how difficult it is to learn something new and be more patient, more tolerant with people who answer the phone with a foreign accent. Becoming an immigrant in Canada was my choice. I felt that this country would offer my family and I more opportunities to improve our way of life. Unfortunately, my perspective differs when it comes to actually living here. My family and I have been immigrants here in Canada for quite some time and we feel that immigrants are not afforded the same equal opportunity to advance because of the issue of discrimination, which can take place in many forms including color, accent, race, clothing and our appearance. Because of these kinds of experiences, it is my hope that writing about and understanding cultural differences would benefit not only you, but also strengthening our society as we move on to greater cultural diversity and inclusion. 

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 16 • May & June 2012 • p.12

Settlement SUPPORT you NEED from people you can TRUST! We provide assistance with housing, healthcare, the labour market, education, language training and skills development. We provide counselling for forms and immigration matters, trauma support, career and employment, community referrals and more. Services are available in: Arabic, Assyrian, Bengali, Bosnian, Cambodian, Cantonese, Croatian, English, Hindi, Karen, Kiswahili, Kurdish, Malay, Mandarin, Nubian, Punjabi, Russian, Serbian, Somali, Spanish, and Urdu. Open Monday to Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm.




HAMILTON NORTH 182 Rebecca St. (Rebecca & Ferguson) P: 905-525-9676


DOWNTOWN HAMILTON 8 Main St. E. Suite 101 Hamilton, ON L8N 1E8 P: 905-529-5209

EAST HAMILTON 2255 Barton Street East (Barton & Nash) P: 905-573-7663

HAMILTON MOUNTAIN 1119 Fennell Ave. E. #236 (Fennell & Upper Ottawa) P: 905-387-1100

Follow us online!

Skills for Work & Life Driving, Computer and First Aid Training Prepare for your Driver’s License! • Training for G1 Driver’s License • Learn the rules of the road • Build confidence and independence • Sessions begin bimonthly

Prepare for the workplace! Gain skills for College or University!

LINC 6/7 E V E N I N G


Improve your computer skills! • Windows XP • Internet & Email • MS Word, MS Excel & MS Publisher • PowerPoint • Typing

First Aid & CPR Certification! • Get training to act on, prevent and manage life’s emergencies • Receive Canadian Red Cross certification in a safe environment

Three convenient locations | Childminding on site HAMILTON DOWNTOWN 8 Main St E Suite 101 Call Mady at 905-529-5209

HAMILTON MOUNTAIN 1119 Fennell Ave E #236 Call Silvia at 905-387-1100

DOWNTOWN EAST 182 Rebecca St Call Joyce at 905-525-9676

The IWC is committed to empowering newcomer women to build their new futures through skills development and settlement support.

Monday to Thursday, 6 to 8pm 8 Main Street East, 3rd Floor, Hamilton Offered September to June Prepare for COLLEGE or university. Gain WORKPLACE English skills. Learn about JOB searching, BUSINESS writing, TELEPHONE skills and more. Main Site: Call Mady at 905-529-5209 x233.

Issue #16 - Women's Press  

This issue was made in collaboration with students from McMaster University’s Gender Studies and Feminist Research Program, Discovery Progra...