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The Women’s Press

a woman leader is... Issue 19 • January & February 2013 • Published by the Immigrant Women’s Centre

A woman of courage. Passionate, intelligent, and most importantly, can withstand a great amount of obligations. She has to have a lot of strength and support. - Dr. Dawn Martin-Hill Indigenous Studies Founder, McMaster University

Finding ways to mentor and build opportunities for growth through literacy; fostering positive change for future leaders and continuing to drive capacity for learning.

Someone who isn’t afraid to stand her ground, voice her opinions, and hold the hands of the sisters around her to help them in their struggle. - Queen Cee Musician & Director of Be-You-tiful Girls Club & When Sistahs Get Together

A servant leader who serves others with love and respect. - Semula Horlings Karen Refugee Settlement Counsellor, Immigrant Women’s Centre

- Amanda Kinnaird Business Partner, Inspire Marketing

A woman with a strong “why” - a mission, a focus and a goal in her engagement and involvement with the community.

Innovative and flexible. Open minded and knowledgeable, not just in cultures, but in abilities. Empathy is key.

- Kathy Woo Social Media & Digital Communications Leader, McMaster Student Success Centre

- Shanta R. Nathwani IT & Social Media Consultant & Instructor, Sheridan College

When I’m called to lead, I stand on the shoulders of many who have walked before me, whether they are known to fight for justice, human rights, gender equality, rights for the LGBTQ community, the right to access shelter and food, or land claims and Aboriginal rights. I walk on a path beside those I support. I walk in the shoes of those who led before me. I am the change I see in the world. - Renée Wetselaar, Social Planner, Social Planning and Research Council

By Evelyna Kay & Alyssa Lai Illustrations by Sean McCarron (

Queen Cee

When it comes to clever, engaging women in became an integral component of International Hamilton, local musician, mother, and activist Queen Women’s Day celebrations in Hamilton. Cee is a powerful example. The oldest sibling in a However, Queen Cee also realized that predominantly female family, Cee has always been organizations and activities aimed at empowering encouraged to act as a leader and mentor in the lives women often failed to acknowledge an alreadyof her peers, a calling she adheres to in every aspect marginalized demographic. of her life. When Cee noticed a need “In order to empower women, you have for more discourse on women’s issues, to start with girls,” said Cee. “Starting from In order to elementary she began connecting with friends and school, when they’re as young acquaintances for an exchange of views. empower women, as seven, is when you really have to instill “I thought it would be good to create that self-esteem and pride in who they are you have to a sisterhood...amongst women,” she as individuals, and not as a collective first.” explained, “Without women feeling start with girls. To meet the needs of girls in the Hamilton that they have to alienate themselves area, Cee founded the Be-You-tiful Girls because of culture, or because of race. To be able to sit Club. The group, consisting of predominantly middledown and talk, and just be women amongst women school aged girls, encourages self-confidence and without feeling intimidated or hindered, emotionally participation in various art-forms and activities. By or verbally.” providing girls with opportunities to do the things While initially informal, the sessions inspired her to they love and to discover new interests, Queen Cee form her first organization: When Sistahs Get Together. hopes that one day they will use their experiences to Built on a premise of unification through art, it quickly benefit others like them.

Dr. Dawn Martin-Hill

When she was a university student at McMaster, get more Aboriginal faculty at Mac.” Dawn Martin-Hill from the Mohawk Wolf clan In her quest to establish the program, Martinremembered taking a North American natives course. Hill had faced the dual challenge of being a single It was far from what she expected. “[The course] was mother to two toddlers and living in poverty. Her just a survey of what we ate. It didn’t experience captures the complexities help me understand anything. It’s like we of being a native woman. They are not Native women only responsible for families, but also for didn’t exist today,” she remarked. Disappointed, Martin-Hill started community events – be it act as glue in coordinating lobbying for more action to bring native fundraisers, cultural events, or funerals, perspectives into the university during their communities. she said. Native women act as glue in her final undergraduate year in 1989. She their communities. High rates of suicide began by searching for more native people, leading to in native communities present additional challenges as a conference about native rights and culminating in the they continue to serve as the anchor of their family and Indigenous Studies program, established in 1992. community. Though progress has been slow, there have been “If you’re not there, you lose respect and improvements to raise awareness and support native relationships. It’s the number one burden of most rights in the university, said Martin-Hill, citing more native women. I’m the matriarch of my family. My courses, resources, and mentorship for native students. identity is here,” she stressed. “Now we need to work on the big push. We need to Women leaders cont’d on page 5.


P3 Promoting Peace Emerging author writes children’s book to inspire the young

P6 This is Hamilton McMaster graduates release documentary about Hamilton’s changing landscape

P7 1 in Four Survivors of domestic violence launch website to serve as community resource hub

P9 Revolutionary Lives CFMU radio show brings attention to trauma and youth mental health

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 19 • Jan. & Feb. 2013 • p.2

The Women’s Press

Is McMaster University School of Labour Studies for you?

, y e n o M Your ! e r u t u Your F

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

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The Women’s Press

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 19 • Jan. & Feb. 2013 • p.3

Letter from the Editor What does being a woman leader mean to me? It means the courage to overcome obstacles, to remain strong in the face of fear. It means the strength to conquer a new day despite the difficulties that may lay ahead. It means the desire to put others first, to mentor women younger than you and work for a better community. It means the decision to ignore negative stereotypes and limitations imposed upon oneself, and instead be the best one can be. In my work, I am blessed to meet women leaders each day. These women lead the way for others and inspire us to answer the question: “What is possible?” In this issue of the Women’s Press, we read stories of women in our community who have made proactive decisions. They have written books promoting peace, started campaigns on homelessness, filmed documentaries, started web resources for those who have faced domestic violence, spoke out about mental health and volunteered to learn more about women leadership. The beginning of 2013 marks a new year with new possibilities for us all. What if, this year, the women of Hamilton decided to truly believe in themsleves as leaders? I believe we are all leaders, and that we all have a unique voice in our community that can bring inspiration to others and transform our community. May the stories that are read in this issue not end here - may they inspire you and motivate you. May they urge you to turn your suffering into strength and overcome the obstacles in your life. May they remind you of all you have done, and of your goals for the future. May your story be told in an upcoming issue of the Women’s Press. Cheers to Hamilton, Ines Rios, Executive Director Immigrant Women’s Centre 8 Main Street East, Suite 101 Hamilton, ON (905) 529-5209

Having lived in both the Western and Eastern worlds, Nagwa Abu Seif wants to promote peace through children’s literature.

Author seeks to promote peace Nagwa Abu Seif may have retired, but she isn’t done working yet. Her dream is to see peace between the global East and West, and she does that through writing. After teaching geography and history to youth in Egypt for twenty years, Nagwa Abu Seif came to Canada to be with her daughter and grandchildren. Through her settlement experiences, she found writing to be an ideal outlet for expression. “In writing, I find myself,” she explained. “It helps me to become comfortable and confident. I feel like I have worth.” Poetry and children’s literature are her main areas of interest. She has drafted the script for a children’s book which features two lead children characters, Easta and Westa. They symbolize the relationship between the Eastern and Western worlds. She explains, “Easta and Westa do not get along at first, but I remove this problem and make them love each other and be friends.” The friends are part of a group of seven, representing the seven continents, who join together to solve world problems: poverty, pollution,

hunger, and war. “I decided to write something for kids to promote ideas for how they can relate to others. I want to put roots for love and peace. Kids around the world are living in poverty, suffering from lack of food and water. This book creatively promotes how we must solve

the problems they are suffering from,” she continued. In their journey, the children discover a “key of life” which enables them to solve problems. They travel around the world learning about different cultures and lifestyles. They invent a machine that can build houses from garbage. With their imaginations, they discover


Visit our website: 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 refugees and immigrants.

anti-war strategies, as they try to build peace on earth through love. The themes reflect one of her favourite parts of living in Canada: people from around the world living together with respect. Another favourite part is spending time at the Hamilton Public Library. “It’s my second home,” she said. There, she enjoys reading books, gaining knowledge and sharing her passion for literature. “Many people come to Canada and feel worried and anxious about settling, but you must love your new country, and know your rights and duties,” she said. Her love for writing has aided her in this process. Seif is now in the second stage of her book. She is looking for sponsors, an artist, and publisher who can make her book a reality. Initially written in Arabic, her book has been translated to English for a Canadian audience. “I wish for everyone to soon know this book,” she said. Despite the extra challenges she faces as a newcomer navigating the publishing world, her hopes remain high.  Women’s Press

“Kids around the world are living in poverty, suffering from lack of food and water. This book creatively promotes how we must solve the problems they are suffering from.”

NEW Please send feedback, press releases and submissions to: Michelle Drew at


Visit our website today!


Women in Hamilton, Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 19 • Jan. & Feb. 2013 • p.4 Issue 16 • May & June 2012 • p.4

The Women’s Press

How’s The Weather?


As the temperature drops, many people in Hamilton put on additional layers of clothes and a pair of winter boots to stay warm. But others are struggling to just keep a roof over their heads. Women are particularly vulnerable - in Hamilton more than 300 are turned away from shelters each month due to insufficient space. It is difficult to ignore this issue after looking at the statistics. In October 2012 alone, local shelter Inasmuch house reported turning down women 87 times – the shelter only has 37 beds. Native Women's Centre also had to decline 117 women and their requests for shelter. To shed light on the harsh realities of homelessness, the Women's Housing Planning Collaborative (WHPC) launched a public awareness campaign, How's The Weather. Committed to supporting unsheltered women of all backgrounds, the WHPC consists of local nonprofits, including the YWCA, Good Shepherd, Mission Services and the Native Women's Centre. The campaign launched during National Housing Day on November 22. “Housing is a human right. We need a national housing strategy. We do not have time to wait. We need

housing to address food insecurity, unemployment, childcare, and other parts of our lives,” said Renée Wetselaar from the Social Planning and Research Council (SPRC), who is working on the campaign. “If we don’t have a roof over our head or food in our belly we cannot function as citizens.”

“...Homeless women have a higher morality rate – 10 times higher – compared to other women.” Research on housing and homelessness by SPRC suggests that homelessness is often complicated and very much connected to other social problems, such as violence, poverty and mental health. For homeless mothers, they are faced with an additional challenge of supporting their children, while living with the fear of having their children taken away due to the lack of a proper

home. The SPRC also highlights that homeless women have a higher morality rate – 10 times higher – compared to other women. On average, they have lower life expectancy of only 39 years old. In Hamilton, close to a third of women seeking addiction recovery services are homeless. Additionally, more than 7,000 women and their families are at economic risk of homelessness, as at least half of their income is spent on rent. How's The Weather seeks to promote the discussion on women's homelessness through social media and encourage the public to contact their elected representatives for a greater push to tackle the issue of affordable housing. Donations are also accepted. Visit their website www.howstheweather. ca for more information.  Alyssa Lai, The Women’s Press 1. Why did WHPC launch How’s The Weather?

for LINC

2. How does homelessness affect health?

Discussion: What is the goal of this campaign?

Hamilton women’s shelters in crisis By Denise Davy for CBC Hamilton

Shelters for abused women: Martha House (40 beds) Crisis Line: 905-523-6277 Inasmuch House (37 beds) Crisis Line: 905-529-8600 Interval House (22 beds) Crisis Line: 905-387-8881 Native Women’s Centre (15 beds) 905-522-1501 Total number: 114 DENISE DAVY

Hamilton’s shelters for abused women are chronically full and an increasing number of women and children are being forced to stay in hotels, a move that can put their safety at risk. At Martha House, the city’s largest shelter, around 200 women a month are being turned away. In 2011, the city spent $30,274.67 on food and lodging for 48 women and their children who were placed in a hotel because shelter beds were full. “It’s a real crisis situation,” said Val Sadler, Director of Women’s Services for Mission Services which runs Inasmuch House. They had 648 turnaways in their last fiscal year, ending March 2012. “We regularly have women sleeping on cots and couches, which reduces our effectiveness to help them. When they’re sent to a hotel, all they’re getting is a bed and they need much, much more.” Women’s shelters spend thousands of dollars on security equipment, including surveillance cameras, bulletresistant windows and locks, none of which exist at hotels. “Our main goal when we know a woman is in a hotel is to get them out of there,” said Sadler. Kristene Viljasoo, Director of

Women’s Services at Good Shepherd, said women are typically sent to hotels when the shelters are full. But she admits, “We do not always know what happens to turnaways. If a woman doesn’t disclose safety issues, she may be left to explore other options on her own.”

“With so few housing options, women are staying longer in shelters, some up to six months.” Last year the city placed 48 women and children in hotels, at a cost of more than $30,000. However Viljasoo said that number has gone up dramatically over the past year. The overflow is a direct result of lack of affordable housing. With so few housing options, women are staying longer in shelters, some up to six months. Sadler said they worry the frustration of looking for housing may force some women back into an abusive home.

“They feel like they have to choose a life of poverty over a comfortable environment for their children,” said Sadler. Selena, who asked her real name not be used, has been at Martha House with her three children for five weeks. She spent two nights in a hotel, paid for by her brother, before calling the shelter only to find out they were full. “The first time I called they were completely full so I just drove around in my van all day wondering where to go,” said Selena, who was with her abusive partner for 12 years. She said services have helped her immensely. “The way they embrace you here is wonderful.” Viljasoo said women who are in hotels don’t have the same access to services that are provided at shelters such as legal advisors, child and youth workers and staff who are trained to help trauma victims. CBC Hamilton 1. Why are hotels not as beneficial as shelters for women?

for LINC

2. Why did Selena drive all day?

Discussion: What are some of the causes of housing shortages?



YanQiu Hao has been working hard to improve her English by attending classes and extra tutoring. When her teacher told her about Hamilton’s new English as a Second Language (ESL) Week Contest, she knew she wanted to take part in it. “I wanted to practise my English language skills and [the contest] is a very good way to develop writing skills,” she said. English learners across Hamilton submitted writing pieces and visual art in various categories drawing on their experiences learning a new language and settling in a new country. Winners gathered at the Freeway Café on November 5 to receive their awards, which included a certificate and financial stipend. With a piece entitled, “Enjoy my English Class,” Hao won the Level 6/7 Writing category. She commented on her experience: “I was so surprised to win! I appreciate the chance to show my writing skills, as I’ve learned so much from my teacher and tutor.”

“Students were pleased to have their voice heard and use the skills that they have learned.” Hao was not alone in her experience; eleven learners also won awards at the event. “Students were pleased to have their voice heard and use the skills that they have learned,” said Audrey Beaulne, English Teacher at the Immigrant Women’s Centre. “They chose topics and submitted what was interesting to them.” The event was planned by Teachers of English as a Second Language Hamilton-Wentworth, a committee interested in hosting more events for English as Second Language learners across the city. The first of its kind in Hamilton, the event celebrated ESL Week, which was on November 4 – 10. “We wanted to do something that would bring people together,” continued Beaulne. “This allows us to give recognition to people from different English levels as well as show each other what is happening at different schools.” TESL Hamilton-Wentworth aims to hold more ESL-centred events in the future that will continue to build collaboration and involvement among schools across the city.  Michelle Drew, Women’s Press

The Women’s Press “While poverty is an issue for many Canadians, the impact on racialized immigrants has been particularly severe. Recent labour market data suggests that new Canadians bore the brunt of the effects of the recession. We must be united to win the war against poverty. ”

- Senator Art Eggleton, All Party Anti-Poverty Caucus

“While we know the government tends to cut programs and services to save money, in reality, they are only deferring the problem and leaving the people in a vulnerable situation that leads to more increase of services in the future.”

“[Poverty] isn’t a ward by ward problem... We need to look riding by riding, so the provincial and federal governments (and those responsible) can respond in the ways that they need to.” - Deirdre Pike Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton

- Yvonne Maracle, Hamilton Regional Indian Centre

“We have done some amazing work at the federal level in terms of issuing reports on poverty reduction… What we are looking for is action... This has to be a dialogue. We have to keep the conversation going.”

“It’s very sad to see that really one of the most basic choices that people have to make on a day to day basis, who are trying to escape the reality of poverty is the choice between do I eat or do I have a roof over my head.”

- Chris Charlton, Member of Parliament All Party Anti-Poverty Caucus

- Alan Whittle, Good Shepherd Services

Meredith, and Senator Art Eggleton. The students partnered with the YWCA Hamilton to present a report titled, “On Women’s Poverty: Towards New Solutions.” Those who presented were from a fourth year Sociology seminar course, Women, Sexuality and the Welfare State. Contributing students included: Riyah Ali, Julia Main, Bernadette Maracle, Stephanie McDermott, and Lourdes Pasion. In their presentation, the students identified problems and their proposed solutions around housing and homelessness. Other issues addressed include access to childcare, education, income security, social determinants of health, and indigenous women living in systems of poverty. The facts about women in poverty are complex, diverse and require an intimate understanding of basic social policies here in Canada and abroad. Presenters agreed that government

“In Canada, 2.8 million women live in poverty.”

women leaders

Semula Horlings

Issue 19 • Jan. & Feb. 2013 • p.5

“I think in Hamilton you have one of the greatest examples of community involvement... We can’t afford poverty anymore. It costs too much in terms of self-esteem, dignity.”

- Evelyn Myrie, Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion

Article by Alicia Ali, YWCA Hamilton “In Canada, 2.8 million women live in poverty,” said Denise Doyle, CEO of the YWCA Hamilton, in an opening speech at the Action on Poverty Report Launch on November 9. A team of McMaster University students were among a group of presenters who shared their research and findings with community members at the launch, with a common goal of creating solutions for effective poverty reduction strategies. Produced by the Social Planning and Research Council, the Action on Poverty report features poverty statistics organized by riding. The goal of the report was to acknowledge poverty as a federal and provincial issue, not just a municipal issue, and to engage politicians in the discussion. Members of the Federal All-Party Anti-Poverty Caucus were present, including Member of Parliament Chris Charlton, Senator Don

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices.

and agency responses to poverty that simply focus on getting people off social assistance and into paid employment will fail. The reason is that they do not address the systemic issues of poverty. Women’s poverty is about more than just earning an income. It is about an improved standard of living and equal access to employment opportunities. With the feminization of poverty, women suffer the most consequences. Society teaches mothers that they must be the primary caregivers in the home. When single mothers living in poverty attempt to do so, they are struck with the label of being lazy and must face the consequences that come with the stigma of being a single mother on welfare. Part of the problem is the fact that poverty is often viewed as an individual issue, which places blame on the poor. This perspective ignores the

structural causes of poverty and does not address the root causes. Many of the health issues that poor women face can be viewed as symptoms of a larger problem: poverty itself. If we focus on investing in women and preventing poverty through changes in social policy, women’s health will improve as a result. To effectively combat women’s poverty we must address structural inequalities between men and women. Affordable housing and childcare services, investments in women’s education and training, and paying both women and men a living wage will close gender gaps and help women move out of poverty. There is a moral and economic cost to women’s inequality. On average, women in poverty lose 4.5 years off their life. The costs are too high – real solutions to gender equity issues must be addressed today.  YWCA Hamilton

“On average, women in poverty lose 4.5 years off their life.”

[Continued from page 1]

By Evelyna Kay & Alyssa Lai Illustrations by Sean McCarron (

Semula Horlings is no stranger to the difficulties and as a counselor. struggles that newcomers face. Her role as a Family “I want to see newcomers have a successful life in Settlement Counselor at the Immigrant Women’s Centre Canada and I want them to have a better life and I want (IWC) has connected her to many clients, each with their to be a blessing to others,” she said. own challenges as they try to make Canada Her compassion did not go unnoticed. their new home. The biggest hurdle for One of her clients, Lu, spoke about Horlings’ “I want to be kindness extensively, including the time newcomers is the language barrier that exists, she said. a blessing to where Horlings personally took her nonBut Horlings knows the kinds of English speaking mother, suffering from bad others.” struggles newcomers face from the inside vision, to the hospital. out, not just through her clients’ stories. “She’s trying her best to help anyone. She’s She herself underwent that transition from being a not asking for anything; she treats everyone on the same newcomer to an active member in her Karen community level,” she emphasized. in Hamilton when she came to Canada from a refugee As she establishes her life in Hamilton, Horlings camp in Thailand in 2006. After taking some credits acknowledges the help she received in resettlement to obtain a high school diploma, Horlings enrolled in assistance programs, settlement services and also the Mohawk College to be a Social Service Worker. While emotional support from fellow Canadian friends. studying full time, she also worked 20 hours/week at “I would like to encourage newcomers to work hard IWC. and make friends to have good connections. Canada is a Those trying times and her desire to empower other good country and we can be successful if we don’t give newcomers like her motivated her to take on the position up.” 

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 19 • Jan. & Feb. 2013 • p.6

The Women’s Press

Documentary presents Hamilton as it is

By Alyssa Lai When tasked with describing Hamilton, McMaster graduate students Layla Mashkoor and Nicole Rallis knew it would be a complex story to tell. As part of their major research project, the Globalization Studies graduate students approached over 20 community members in spring 2012, to gain a holistic perspective about the city. A one-sentence question to describe Hamilton in one word led to 12 hours of interview recordings, rich with deeply held opinions and personal stories about Steeltown. Together with videographer Mark Hoyne of Tiger In a Suit Productions, Mashkoor and Rallis contextualized them all in documentary. Titled This is Hamilton: After the Steel Rush, the 42-minute film captures the essence of the city – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Using film as the medium for the basis of their research was a deliberate decision. “We wanted to share that research to the community, rather than just having it on the bookshelf,” explained Mashkoor. “The story of Hamilton is the way people experience the city. It is always structured by racial, gender, and class lines,” added Rallis. The documentary began with footage of Hamilton when the steel industry was still thriving, transitioning to interviewees attempting to answer what Hamilton is to them. This included comments from former Hamilton MP Sheila Copps, McMaster University’s President Patrick Deane, the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction (HRPR), and members from the arts community including Max Kerman from local band, Arkells and Mark Furukawa from record store, Dr. Disc. From there, the conversation about Hamilton expanded as interviewees delve into the significant issues affecting the vitality of the city. Poverty reduction and its challenges were some of the film’s highlights.

Filmmakers Nicole Rallis and Layla Mashkoor (left to right)

Former and current chair of HRPR, Mark Chamberlain and Tom Cooper, respectively, were quick to point out some of the most staggering statistics on poverty in Hamilton. A statement released by HRPR in May 2005 reported that one in five Hamilton residents live in low-income households. Hamilton has the highest poverty rate in Ontario. Recent immigrants are particularly vulnerable, with 52 per cent living in poverty. Poverty is a divided issue in Hamilton and is more severe in the downtown core compared to the suburbs of Ancaster and Dundas, where the issue is not as visible, explained Rallis. Both Mashkoor and Rallis were aware of this uphill battle in “solving” poverty. While many speak passionately about ending poverty, activists also face systemic challenges in implementing plans for poverty reduction at a provincial and municipal level. Without a poverty reduction strategy in place, the problem will only get worse. Mashkoor and Rallis also spoke to residents Angelo and Maria Rodriguez about their experience coming from Hungary and Mexico, respectively, to


live in the downtown core. They have lived on James St. North for more than 20 years, watching it grow into a vibrant arts and cultural scene. While the latter part of the documentary’s title, After the Steel Rush, is a play on Canadian musician’s Neil Young’s third album (After the Gold Rush), steel is still a part of Hamilton’s identity, even after 20 years of decline. Interviewees from the United Steel Workers Local 1005 and Steel City Solidarity all spoke about job insecurity after the decline of the steel industry, as Canadian steel companies are bought up by the U.S. Steel, in many ways, is still the backbone of the city. Hamilton’s image as a Steel City has also been appropriated, as Rallis pointed out, citing the slogan “Art is the New Steel” popularized by local print and media arts centre, Centre3. It sees the arts as Proud building blocks in

“The story of Hamilton is the way people experience the city. It is always structured by racial, gender, and class lines.”

the city and community development. Despite the support and positive reactions embracing the burgeoning arts and cultural scene in Hamilton, some interviewees remained cautious about this overly optimistic tone, referring to the gentrification of the art scene on James St. North as it selectively conforms to middle-class taste. These conflicted views about Hamilton were exactly what Mashkoor and Rallis hoped to depict and preserve in their documentary. “We really wanted to just give people the information and let them decide for themselves,” said Mashkoor. “We didn’t want to put specific messages. We just want people to hear these stories and come to their own conclusions,” added Rallis. The documentary started out as a prerequisite to complete a Masters degree, but it became something more than that. Both Mashkoor and Rallis grew attached to the city and its welcoming community. They hope to continue building on their research by comparing how industrialization plays out in different cities. “There’s really a sense of community [in Hamilton],” said Mashkoor. “People are just waiting for this new Hamilton. The city is changing. There are some questions that we need to be asking about where the change is coming from.” 



Member of Parliament for Hamilton Mountain

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Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 19 • Jan. & Feb. 2013 • p.7


1 in Four founders Cassandra Henry, Cathy Watts, and Jennifer Price (left to right)

Website connects women with support services It takes courage for women to leave she could turn to next for support. abusive relationships and reach out for “If you’re not linked to any support support. group, it can very quickly become Domestic violence survivors Cathy isolating,” explained Henry. Watts, Cassandra Henry, and Jennifer There are a multitude of support Price recognized this gap. That was services in place, said Watts, citing local how came to be. An online services like Good Shepherd, Inasmuch resource hub focused on domestic House, and the Sexual Assault Centre; violence support services, the site but there is also stigma attached to connects women them. A registered with social services nurse living with her and other survivors, abusive husband, “I don’t believe while highlighting Watts was driven I should be quiet the seriousness of to seek refuge at a domestic violence local shelter in 2010 about this... I’m through statistical after numerous not a victim. I’m a data. outbursts, including “We are the vehicle incidences where survivor.” and the service she had to lock providers are the herself in the room destination. We’re to escape from his going help get you there,” emphasized anger. But she initially thought of co-founder Henry. shelters as “the last resort” – dirty and As single mothers who had been ill-equipped places where homeless through abusive relationships, the people and drug addicts congregate. three friends quickly realized how While she lived there for six months challenging it was for vulnerable with two of her three children, Watts women to ask for help. soon realized how misguided her idea Walking out of the door was just the of shelters was. Through 1 in Four, she beginning for Henry. Feeling powerless, hopes to defeat that stigma by sharing Henry went from Orangeville to St. videos clarifying that shelters are in fact Catharines before finally settling in clean, well-staffed, and safe places for Hamilton with her 8-year old daughter. both women and children. As she moved between cities, she felt Additionally, Watts and Henry lost, without any idea of which services are aware of language, cultural and 1. Why did they decide to create a website? 2. How do they hope to further include non-English speakers? Discussion: Why is support important when dealing with domestic violence?



religious barriers faced by abused newcomer and immigrant women. “Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate across culture – it’s not a ‘white’ problem,” exclaimed Watts. Mindful about these specific challenges, they hope to translate important facts about domestic violence in different languages and showcase them on their site. It has been years since they made a conscious decision to leave. Yet, both

recognize that recovery from abuse will always be an ongoing journey, as they weigh in their children’s safety and continue to advocate and break the silence about domestic violence. “I don’t believe I should be quiet about this. If it is just to save myself from dealing with [my ex-husband], that puts me back as a victim. I’m not a victim. I’m a survivor,” Watts ended.  Alyssa Lai, Women’s Press

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 19 11 •• Jan. May & & Feb. June2013 2011••p.8 p.8 Issue

The Women’s Press

IN THE COMMUNITY Community members gathered on December 6th for the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women at the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre. The service remembered the 14 women who were murdered in the Montreal Massacre of 1989, as well as the over 582 First Nations women who have been murdered or are missing in Canada.


Over 35 international vendors from the Hamilton area gathered to sell their wares in time for the holidays. The International Marketplace took place November 23 & 24. www.

Students celebrate Int’l Education Week By Evelyna Kay

international education, and its benefits to Canada, and to Mohawk College,” said Lobodici. “We like to celebrate our diversity throughout the college, and it’s a great opportunity for students to showcase where they’re from, and...for us to learn from them.” Although McMaster and Mohawk are intimately connected, and often work in tandem in order to offer joint programs and opportunities to their students, each school approached the event differently. Major functions at McMaster included an Exchange Fair, several Information Sessions, and, most memorably for Levi, the Language Café. “The Language Café students the opportunity to ‘try out’ another language in a very casual setting,” she said. “[It] also quickly illustrates to students the diversity of the world’s languages in regard to pronunciation, characters, and sentence structure. I find it very humbling...It’s amazing how a whole other world can open up to you when you’re able to communicate in another language.” Remaining true to its mandate of hands-on education, Mohawk College invited members of its international community to share food, music, art, and other tactile representations of their cultures and experiences. Lobodici described the event fondly. “This year,” she said, “I had a chef come in and cook bugs, because people

all over the world eat [them], and they’re becoming more and more nutritious. It’s an opportunity for students to give that a try. It was also fun to watch people’s reactions.” In addition to the success of the insect-eating event, students shared presentations, brought in photos, ran quizzes, and handed out food. A photo contest was also a prominent feature that week, drawing almost 200 entries from staff and students alike. When asked about possible changes to their respective events in the future, both Levi and Lobodici were optimistic. Lobodici expressed the hope that the photography competition could be expanded to include more categories in the upcoming year. Levi simply conveyed a desire to use student feedback in order to increase engagement. “We looking to grow IEW at McMaster by hosting more events and reaching out to a wider audience of students,” Levi stated. “We have a great momentum to work with from the past year, so I have no doubt this can be accomplished.” 

“Their goal: to unite, work together, and collectively focus on the best interests of the clients.”

International students at Mohawk serve snacks containing bugs to public.

Attending university can be a frightening experience, particularly if that experience takes place in a new country. For international and exchange students, living in Hamilton can be a challenge. That’s why, for one week every year, Mohawk College and McMaster University take the time to celebrate the accomplishments, contributions, and experiences of their international and exchange students, while promoting opportunities for Canadian-born students to study abroad. Founded in 2000 in the U.S., International Education Week is an initiative designed to showcase the positive impact that international education has upon the cultural, economic, and social well-being of the global community. Now, in 2012, the event is truly international, with


participation from post-secondary institutions in more than 100 countries. According to Jenna Levi, the Education Abroad Coordinator at McMaster’s Office of International Student Services, the theme promoted nationally was Canadian engagement with the world. A particular focus was given to the benefits of international education. “I think it’s important to recognize the diversity and contribution of McMaster’s International and Exchange student populations on campus,” she explained, “in addition to highlighting the wide number of opportunities that are available to Canadian students interested in an experience abroad.” Events officer at Mohawk College, Lucy Lobodici, agrees. “The purpose of International Education week is to raise awareness of

1. Why was International Education Week founded?

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2. What did students do to celebrate?


A great deal has changed since 2011, a time when the future of settlement and newcomer services seemed grim and unstable. Almost two years following the collapse of Hamiltons largest agency serving immigrants and refugees, the settlement sector has been revitalized with commitment from a variety of agencies. Their goal: to unite, work together, and collectively focus on the best interests of their clients. Since last year, settlement sector managers have been working closely together, sharing ideas, and strategizing to ensure that all front-line settlement staff across the city have the knowledge and resources to best serve their clients. As a group, the managers developed professional development training sessions and were able to plan and coordinate a city-wide training opportunity for all front-line settlement sector employees.

“Their goal: to unite, work together, and collectively focus on the best interests of their clients.” Ninty-four participants attended the single day training offered on two separate dates, which were offered in both English and French. The training focused on motivational interviewing, documentation skills, monitoring, and professional communication. The training blended theoretical knowledge, with practical skills that all participants could take back and implement at his or her respective organization. It was a huge success, not only in providing a group of front-line staff with excellent resources and tools to improve their skills when working with staff, but also for different agencies to work toward a common goal. The team effort of all those involved has fostered the development of new relationships, and reaffirmed existing ones among agencies and organizations. This task was not only for the benefit of front-line staff, but also for the many players behind the scenes involved in maintaining the operations of many newcomer programs. This partnership has enabled the settlement community to develop a shared mission and vision by imagining how they could make the settlement sector more efficient, cohesive and seamless, so that we can work together for the best interest of clients. 

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 19 • Jan. & Feb. 2013 • p.9

Radio show ‘clears the air’ on youth mental health

Staff and volunteers at Revolutionary Lives, a radio show on McMaster’s CFMU Radio, preparing to go on air.


By Alyssa Lai January 28, 2009 might have been just another cold and snowy day for most Hamilton residents. But Grade 12 student Rumeysa Cosgun will always remember that fateful date. Home for lunch, Cosgun recalled someone knocking on the door. She opened it to her aunt’s estranged husband, who advanced forward, yelling for her aunt. The next thing she knew, she experienced a sudden sharp pain. She felt it again four more times; he had stabbed her in the abdomen and chest. Dazed, confused and terrified, Cosgun remembered thinking, “Is this a dream? Did I fall asleep during a very bad movie?” Cosgun crawled outside to her neighbour’s porch and was rushed to the emergency ward, where she was successfully treated. She escaped death, but the wounds she carries are not just physical. Months later, the memory of the knife attack continued to haunt Cosgun as she resumed classes after her recovery. Seeing a boy at school playing with a pocket knife sent her shivering with fear, and reminded her of that traumatic experience. “I was really freaking out. I was about to cry,” she confessed. Trauma – mental and physical – was the recent focus of a radio show on newcomer youth mental health, called Revolutionary Lives. A new initiative led by youth leaders at the NGen Youth Centre, Revolutionary Lives facilitates weekly radio discussions on this crisis amongst newcomer youth. Cosgun shared her process of dealing with her traumatic experience on air on December 3rd. Run by five volunteers and staff, it broadcasts live on Mondays, 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at McMaster’s 93.3 CFMU. There is a need to see mental health as an integral part of one’s overall wellbeing. “Mental health is not a ‘problem’ but a development, just like physical health

– you can do things to sharpen it,” explained Don Mahleka, Operations Manager of the youth centre. “The whole point [of the radio show] is to engage people, creating information that is easy to access,” said Mahleka. Youth leader, Gonca Aydin, also pointed out additional challenges for newcomers to adjust to new environments, such as language and cultural barriers.

“She escaped death, but the wounds she carries are not just physical.” “We are youth and we know what youth go through,” said Aydin, born and raised in France. Fellow youth leader, Tara Zimmerman knows that feeling of helplessness all too well. Growing up, she stated that she had been abused and bullied which led to a suicide attempt a year ago. “There’s no place to go. You have to be on the edge before they can help

you,” said the first year McMaster student after the show. “You don’t want to wait ‘til youth are at the edge before you can help,” she stressed. That’s the gap that this radio group hopes to bridge through early intervention such as counseling and also creating an open environment for youths to seek help and feel empowered. Casual events, such as free cooking classes also offered opportunities for interaction with youths as they socialize and share their meals “like a family,” Zimmerman added. While sharing her story publicly for the first time over the airwaves could be intimidating, Zimmerman thinks it is also therapeutic. More importantly, it sends the message that “no one truly is alone” in his or her mental health struggles. Cosgun herself remains optimistic. She hopes that conversations about youth mental health continue to grow and remain inclusive, allowing other affected youths from different cultural backgrounds to open up. Zimmerman couldn’t agree more, “It’s important to make sure people know about mental health. It’s making a positive change in people’s life.” 

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 19 • Jan. & Feb. 2013 • p.10

The Women’s Press


Literacy works and social-justice focused films

BOOK: Ewald and the Gems of Time Author: Ameer Idreis | Illustrated by Hanadi Bader

FILM: The End of Immigration Directed by: Marie Coti & Malcolm Guy | Produced by: Multi-Monde

At twelve-years-old, Ameer Idreis already has a four-part book series in the works. We interviewed this young author about his experience writing his first book. What is the book about? What inspired you to write it? Another book. It was again needed for language class. I simply fell in love with ‘The Games of Sunken Places’ by M. T. Anderson. It was the kind of fiction that I loved reading, watching, and then later on writing. ‘Ewald and the Gems of Time’ is about the protagonist Ewald Ellington who had no plans for excitement that summer, but now will threaten the entire magic section and its government with an old legend. He travels to a fancy academy; meets a few friends, and enemies. On top of that a story unfolds concerning three gems hidden across the landscape, and a man who plans to hunt them. It is the first in a series of four entitled ‘The Ewald Series’. How did you discover your passion for writing? The discovery of my interest in writing took place in grade six. I would always have to do fiction writing assignments, I just started experimenting with my writing. It took a while to find the tone and perspective of my writing and how to alter it.

“Exciting. Imaginative. Magic.” What are some challenges/ difficulties that you’ve experienced in writing the novel? Once I had a problem with actually continuing my writing. I was near the middle of the story, and I had writer’s block for a long time. I couldn’t write a single new word for the whole month of February. To me personally it was tragic, as I was truly in love with the complete story. I think the problem was that I had no planning up to that point, I was simply making it up as I go sometimes. What kind of support have you gained in your journey as a young writer? I had never expected such a thing to happen, and neither did my parents. At first it was a hobby, but as I gained confidence, they did as well. My parents are the greatest support and they always encourage me to do what I love. I have also had support from my school, teachers, and classmates. Many of them were interested and frequently talk to me about it, which always makes a person feel good. What are some of your favourite authors and what do you like about them? My top three favourite authors have to be C.S. Lewis, M. T. Anderson, and J.K. Rowling. I do indeed love so many other fiction authors yet these

“Through a survey of workers across the country, filmmakers Malcolm Guy and Marie Coti unveil the silent exploitations that some workers under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program have endured.”

three are the best. Both Mr. Lewis and J.K. Rowling are in the same area through their writing, they make the characters feel so real and the adventure is just amazing. While M. T. Anderson has a way of building up intensity throughout his book. If you can sum up your novel in 3 words, how would you describe it? Exciting. Imaginative. Magic. What kind of advice would you give to young writers? Always ignore the negativity that people are adding to your life and writing. Some people constantly put down others and tell you to give up or that you are ‘too young to make it.’ In the end, it always works out somehow. When it comes to her son’s emerging career as a writer, Hanadi Bader just brimmed with pride: I feel very proud that Ameer has discovered his love for writing at this young age. I will always be there for him and give him all of my support. It is very important to know our children’s hopes/dreams and goals. As a mother and an artist, I can say that the greatest thing that I am proud of is creating the illustrations for Ameer’s first book. It is very important to have the whole family’s support to tell them that you do care what they are doing, and to not ignore our children’s needs. Ameer will be hosting a reading and Q&A session in Locke Library’s March Break program. For more information on his work, visit  Women’s Press 1. What inspired Ameer to write this book series?

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2. Do you know any books by Ameer’s favourite authors?

Discussion: What were your favourite activities to do as a twelveyear-old? What about your children or a young person you know?

It has been over 130 years since 17,000 Chinese workers came to Canada to build our railroad system. From 1881-1884, while Canadian workers received $1.50-2.50/day, Chinese workers made $1/day for doing harder, more dangerous work on top of having to pay for living expenses from which Canadian workers were exempt. After their work was done, they were charged an illegal head tax to settle in Canada. In 2006, the Canadian government apologized for this discrimination. In the same year, Latin American foreign workers were hired to work on Vancouver’s Canada Line Rail. Their pay after calculating overtime? $3.50/ hour. Minimum wage was $8 at the time. Through a survey of foreign workers across the country, filmmakers Malcolm Guy and Marie Coti unveil the silent exploitations that some workers under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program have endured. From fast food chains to City Bus, to

agricultural fields – the number of companies filling employment needs with workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker program has grown tremendously, increasing 71% between 2004 to 2008. The “privatization of immigration” as Guy and Coti call it, transfers control of immigration terms from the government to the businesses who hire workers. The film follows some cases of workers who get lower pay, higher rent, and are often chided by employers for calling in sick or questioning employment safety standards. Workers also pay unemployment insurance and Canadian Pension Plan but do not receive these government services. The film does not seek to conclude that all workers under this program are exploited or that all companies are guilty. Rather, it is the system itself allows for situations of injustice to not only exist, but flourish. For more information visit  Women’s Press

1. What do Temporary Foreign workers pay for but not receive? 2. What is the “privitization of immigration”?

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Discussion: What surprised you about this information? Do you know anyone who has come to Canada as a TFW?

The Women’s Press

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 19 • Jan. & Feb. 2013 • p.11

My experience at Canada World Youth

WOMEN’S PRESS PHOTOS [Above] Nancy Tran stands with her volunteer partner Cinthia Valdez. Together they volunteered in Hamilton at the Immigrant Women’s Centre. [Left] Women who participated in the Canada World Youth exchange between Hondouran and Canadian youth.

By Nancy Tran Canada World Youth is an organization that offers programs for youth under 30 to participate in group volunteer exchanges with partner countries, to become leaders in their communities. Youth volunteer for a period of time in both countries where they learn about a new culture, new language, and gain knowledge and skills that they can then bring back to their home communities. My exchange destination was supposed to be Honduras. Each Canadian participant was paired up with a Honduran counterpart, where they would have to live together for six months with a host family in each country. We were also a part of an all women’s exchange group so our exchange was to be focused on empowerment and gender equality. However, we were not able to go to Honduras due to civil unrest, so we were placed in a community in Nicaragua called Estelí. There, we had

the opportunity to design and facilitate workshops for young girls in grades five and six on different topics including the environment, physical and mental health, gender equity, and gender-based violence.

“...Our exchange was to be focused on empowerment and gender equality.” It was rewarding to be able to interact with the girls and have a safe space for them to talk about important issues and where they could feel confident in themselves. Though it was difficult with the language barrier, it was great to have a Spanish-speaking counterpart to help me navigate through this phase



MOUNTAIN SITE 1119 Fennell Ave E #236


REBECCA SITE 182 Rebecca St


BARTON SITE 2255 Barton St E


MONTCALM SITE 45 Montcalm Dr #43


of the program. After three months, we took a plane back to Canada where we spent another three months in Hamilton. Here, we were placed in several different community organizations to learn about the different social issues in Hamilton and the social services available. I was placed in the Immigrant Women’s Centre (IWC) that provides many settlement services for newcomers, with a focus on immigrant women. I felt very fortunate to be placed somewhere where I could grow and gain new skills and knowledge about settlement processes for newcomers and the barriers they face with integration to Canada. Together with my work counterpart, we designed and facilitated a series of workshops entitled “Gender Matters” that focused on gender stereotypes, gender equity, gender based violence, and safety. It was very rewarding to interact with different immigrant women, where we could share our

knowledge and experiences with each other in a safe space. It was eye-opening discussing the social construction of gender stereotypes and how this not only affects how we live our lives as women, but how we also pass on these gender values to our children. The most rewarding aspect about this women’s exchange was listening to women’s stories, seeing how women can empower themselves and then support each other, regardless of where they come from or what language they speak. 

1. What is the purpose of the CWY exchange?

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2. Where did Nancy and Cinthia volunteer in Hamilton?

Discussion: What was rewarding about the work they did in Hamilton?

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

Information Sessions

First Steps in Hamilton

Main Site | 8 Main Street East | Call 905-529-5209 for more information.

Get help settling in your new city. Learn about health, housing, education and employment. Fourth Wednesday of each month from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. January 23 & February 27 (Main) March 27 (Rebecca).

January 15 | 12:30 pm & January 29 | 12:30 pm | Changes in Immigration with Lina El-Ali, Immigrant Women’s Centre January 29 | 12:30 pm | Age Security & Guarantee Income Supplement with Sheila Servos, Service Canada February 21 | 12:30 pm | Healthy Growth for Children with Dr. K. Johnson, McMaster Children’s Hospital February 26 | 12:30 pm | Recreational Programming

Mountain Site | 1119 Fennell Ave East | Call 905-387-1100 for more info.

January 18| 1:00 pm | Your Legal Rights with George Parker, Duty Counsel January 25 | 10:00 am | Dealing with Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress with Mary-Jo Land, Child Psychotherapist February 13 | 10:30 am | Changes in Immigration with Lina El-Ali, IWC February 21 | 3:00 pm | Maintaining Healthy Relationship with Youth with John Howard Society

Rebecca Site | 182 Rebecca Street | Call 905-525-9676 for more info.

January 10 | 10am | Domestic Violence and Criminal Code with Ume Pararajasingham, Legal Advocate at Jared’s Place January 24 | 10 am | Understanding Cultural Awareness with Nada Tuta, Immigrant Women’s Centre February 6 | 2 pm | Family Sponsorship, Group of Five with Vicky Thind, Immigrant Women’s Centre February 20 | 10 am | Raising Children with Disabilities with Feldman Allan, Social Worker, Chedoke Hospital

Prepare for the Citizenship Test! Every third Wednesday & Thursday from 1-3pm (Red Hill Library) Every first Monday & Tuesday from 1-3pm (Central Library)

Improve Your Language Skills! English: Sign up for LINC classes anytime! (Main, Rebecca, Mountain) English for Work: Intensive Listening and Speaking. Obtain practical customer service experience and full benchmark level in 280 hours! This program is for CLB 4 and above only. Program runs Monday to Friday 9am to 12pm (Main)

Leading and Learning Attend a six week workshop. Learn about housing, education and employment rights and responsibilities. Learn leadership skills. Contact Erinn for more info and upcoming workshops at 905-529-5209 x223. Next session starts January 15 at 8 Main Street East, 3rd Floor.

Job Search Workshops The Job Search Workshops (JSW) program is a workshop that gives you the job search tools to help you succeed in the Canadian job market. The program runs Monday to Friday, 9am - 12pm. Rebecca: January 8 - 11 (Module I) January 22 - 25 (Module 2) Main: February 5 - 8 (Module I) February 19 - 22 (Module 2) Mountain: March 5 - 8 (Module I) March 19 - 22 (Module 2)

Learn, work, grow.

Women in Hamilton, Raising our Voices. Issue 19 • Jan. & Feb. 2013 • p.12

The Women’s Press


Prepare for a rewarding career in construction. • Comprehensive, hands-on training • Job search assistance • Funding provided for tuition, tools, books & equipment Program starts March 4 in Burlington For more information call 905-333-3499 x121, or 1-888-315-5521 x121, or email Visit us on the web at or follow us on Twitter @Wanna_Trade

Offered by The Centre in partnership with the Government of Ontario, RESCON, Mohawk College/STARRT Institute and Canadian Women’s Foundation.

Settlement SUPPORT you NEED from PEOPLE you can count on! English Language Training Job Search Workshops Orientation & Settlement Computer Training Information Sessions Skill & Leadership Workshops

HAMILTON DOWNTOWN 8 Main St E Suite 101 1-905-529-5209

DOWNTOWN EAST 182 Rebecca St 1-905-525-9676

HAMILTON EAST 2255 Barton St E 1-905-573-7663


1119 Fennell Ave E #236 1-905-387-1100

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Issue #19 - Women's Press (Hamilton, ON)  
Issue #19 - Women's Press (Hamilton, ON)  

This issue highlights some of Hamilton's Emerging Women Leaders and the projects they are working on.