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Redefining the roles that newcomer women play in our communities

September 21, 2020

 

The Immigrant Women’s Advisory Committee (IWAC) is the heart and soul of Learning Journeys: Pathways for and with Immigrant Women, a 2-year service delivery improvement project funded by IRCC. Grounded in the practices and principles of collaboration, trust-building, emergent learning, power-sharing and strength-based methodology, Learning Journeys brings together the experiences and perspectives of newcomer women, service providers and community partners who are illuminating pathways to improved outcomes for newcomer women, their families and their communities. 

As Ethnographic Research and Learning Lab participants, thirteen women with a range of contexts have been sharing experiences as immigrant women on their settlement path towards economic participation, offering insights into the most significant challenges, and applying their skills and strengths to dig into finding innovative solutions. Individually they are mothers, daughters, wives, widows, nurses, teachers, dentists, filmmakers, volunteers, employees, business owners and students; collectively they are courageous, skilled, passionate, caring and hopeful. Together with Learning Journeys’ dedicated and visionary partners, the IWAC are re-defining the roles that newcomer women can play in our communities and workspaces.

Below are Thea Alba’s thoughts on her journey as an IWAC member:

I have participated as a volunteer in Learning Journeys for almost 2 years. Through this volunteerism, and as a member of the IWAC Team, I was able to learn that:

  1. I am not alone. I am among beautiful, intelligent, diverse women, immigrants and refugees, who share my sentiments, and experiences, and who continue to love, and thrive in BC, Canada.
  2. I am much stronger than I thought.
  3. I have a platform – a stage; a place where my voice can be heard, appreciated and amplified. 
  4. Being a part of Learning Journeys and a part of IWAC, I learned that I have command over words. A mother’s words, an immigrant woman’s voice talking about lived experiences. I can use these words to improve the system for future families of immigrants and refugees. With this knowledge, I feel a sense of belonging and patriotism. I am involving and immersing myself in the community. 

I am a mother of two. On top of taking care of my children, I study and I work. So Learning Journeys has been a beautiful challenge for me. A challenge, because of my responsibilities at home, but beautiful because I got to see my team’s efforts blossom. I experienced so much bonding, so much learning, connection, camaraderie and so much wisdom. Learning Journeys has inspired me to try to improve my community, to be involved and continue to find ways to belong and give back.

I have made connections along the way – with the 10aday Campaign and Peace Geeks. I wish to continue advocating for these groups, to help immigrant families tackle settlement issues such as child care. I hope that in the future, immigrant families will benefit from the fruits of love and labor of Learning Journeys, and utilize IWAC as an asset and a source of lived experiences. 

IWAC is currently recruiting immigrant women to guide the implementation of the next stages of Learning Journeys. For more information, please contact sespie@pirs.bc.ca or asolnes@shaw.ca