Canada News

Engaging immigrant women in Canada

13 February 2009 at 23:55 | 1811 views

National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada.

Press Release

Training project aims to help Canadian economy by engaging immigrant women

A new project to engage immigrant women as decision-makers in all economic sectors can help save some of the $15 billion lost to the Canadian economy each year due to the lack of full integration of qualified immigrants, a national immigrant women’s group says.

“Contributions made by immigrants will be critical to Canadian’s future economic, social, and cultural development,” Eva Pakyam president of the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada.

“Our organization started last October to address this problem and the needs of immigrant women with a project to train minority women to take on leadership roles in their communities,” she said.

NOIVMWC’s project, Engaging Immigrant & Visible Minority Women in Leadership Roles in Canadian Society, is being undertaken in Vancouver, Montréal, Halifax, Winnipeg, Toronto and Ottawa, cities with strong support from immigrant and visible minority women’s organizations, networks and communities.

The project has attracted immigrant women from all walks of life, cultures and backgrounds and is being very well received across Canada, said Cindy Tong, the group’s vice-president.

With funding from status of Women Canada, the project will continue until March 2009, Pakyam said.

With regular orientation and training sessions, the women in each city are paired with a mentor to guide them in realizing their leadership goals, she explained.

Participating organizations are offered an opportunity to undertake a diversity assessment to identify ways of becoming more welcoming and more inclusive to the diverse women in their community, Pakyam added. “Many participants have expressed satisfaction in the project and the training and say that the project is addressing a great need in their communities.”

“It has opened a whole new level of opportunity,” she added. “Ninety-four women have joined so far.”

All women participants in the 6 cities have made special contributions to the project one way or the other. They have been excited about opportunities the training programs offer them and the potential the project has for their leadership ambitions. Among the women who have participated:

Wangari Muriuki a Toronto, participant who is planning to run for city council in the near future says: “Your program, ...appears to be just what I am looking for at this time. Wangari has been involved in leadership roles for a long time and is very engaged with the Leadership training at the Maytree Foundation. We are proud of Wangari who recently joined a local health board.

In Halifax, XiaoMei Tien only had to introduce the leadership program to the Executive Director of Fairview Family Rescource Centre who was very impressed and after some discussions, XiaoMei was invited me to be a member of their Parenting Advisory Board. Further the executive director even volunteered to be her mentor! XiaoMei’s appreciation is reflected in these words to the community facilitator ‘Thanks for your time and hope everything is getting ready for our training session 2.Thanks for your hard work for all of us.’ We are delighted to report that XiaoMei has since joined the board of Darmouth Family Center.

Dora Gwendo from Winnipeg found great encouragement not just from the trainings she got but also from her mentor Marilyn Brick who she says inspires her a lot. Dora says ‘NOIVMWC has opened a new chapter in my life; through this organisation I have had a chance to focus on the leadership skills I have and can develop. I do look forward to continue working with them in developing and effectively utilising my leadership skills

In Montreal, Camiella Hay, Executive Director of Black Star - a big brother big sister organization wants to be an agent of change. Ms. Hay also wants to be involved in an international organization and is earnestly looking into that possibility. She says “I cannot believe the wonderful opportunities available from NOIVMWC...I am excited”

In Ottawa, Yana Tarabukhin who is originally from Ukraine says “I consider Engaging Immigrant and Visible Minority Women in Leadership Roles project as very important and essential in today’s reality’

Finally, we are happy for, Isiuwa Aimiose from Vancouver, who through this project has since joined the board of Surrey Public Library board. During one of her meetings with the library team, she put to use some of the leadership skills acquired from the trainings by suggesting to showcase the Black History month at the Library. The chief Librarian was very impressed and excited. She said, “This is the first time that SPL will be sponsoring any activity from Isiuwa’s ethnicity”. Isiuwa is currently taking leadership in coordinating an event with the SPL for Feb 2009. “This empowerment is all due to the training received at NOIVMIC. I am indeed grateful and truly recommend this training for all immigrant women.” Isiuwa says.

Between February and March, each of the SIX cities will host a community presentation on the program’s diversity assessment tool. Participation from hundreds of organizations across Canada is expected in Diversity in Your Organization: Starting at the top.

Status of Women Canada funds the training project through its Women’s Community Fund.

For more information, please contact:

Comfort Ero, British Columbia Facilitor
Tel: 604 721 2184
Eva Pakyam, president
Tel: 416-269-0090Ext. 229

Photo: Comfort Ero(BC facilitator).