A blog by Sanzida Habib
PIRS has recently received a grant from the Disability Alliance to adapt and make one of our current programs, called Building Bridges, accessible to immigrant and refugee women with visible and invisible disabilities. In Building Bridges we work, learn and have fun with fellow women of diverse ethnicities, age groups, geographical and cultural backgrounds, all of whom share the dream of making Canada their new home. In the program, we talk about effective communication in a multicultural society, identity, inclusion, and social justice. We often feel enriched by the wisdom, resilience, and diverse perspectives shared in this dynamic group space.
In our past cohorts, we’ve had participants who are living with chronic health conditions that posed barriers. And because diversity and inclusion have always been an integral value behind all programs at PIRS, we set out to find new ways to help newcomer women with disabilities access services and resources, and integrate into the community.
We quickly formed an Advisory Committee, to collaborate with organizations and people with the passion and expertise to serve the disability community, to learn straight from the source. At the first committee meeting, we received a wealth of information, eye-opening insights, invaluable feedback, and recommendations on our current and future activities for the program.
Furthermore, before the start of the new Building Bridges Disability program in January 2021, we’re hosting four Conversation Circles. These meetings will help us understand the needs, challenges, and resilience of women who are living and learning with disabilities, of women caring for children with disabilities, and advocates and allies of the disability community. Another objective is to identify accessible service gaps. The online Circles will commence on November 24th, and take place every Tuesday from 3 to 5 pm, until December 15.
We will soon start recruitment for the new Building Bridges for Immigrant Women with Disability program. Anyone interested in participating in, or referring someone for the Circles, or the actual 20-week long program, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are excited to put our knowledge and understandings of diversity and social justice into the practice of inclusion.
Inclusion is like making a beautiful bouquet of flowers – with assortments of diverse blooms and buds, different cuts, a range of colors and shades, surrounded by filler plants, shrubs, and greens – to create beauty and balance! Justice is about equal opportunity, ensuring collective prosperity for all of us, finding the right balance and harmony. In the words of Norm Leech, an Indigenous worldview expert, it is about restoring the balance; a balance that has been lost due to the historic exclusion and injustice done to certain communities, the disability community being an important one of the many. We have a long way to go, but happy to take one small step at a time!