Montréal as a new homeland
Femmes-relais (Woman Mentors)
“Our interventions aim to promote the inclusion of newcomers in their new society, and to form closer intercultural bonds”, summarizes Veronica Islas, general director of the CRIC, Centre-Sud.
For the past five years, the CRIC has been organizing programs such as femmes-relais, where a dozen women of different ethnic backgrounds (including “born-and-raised” Québécoises), who have been well-established in the country for at least two years, are invited to assists newly arrived families.
“These women can help a family who needs to register their child in school, explain clothing needs for a first winter in Québec, or walk them through the subtleties of Québec’s healthcare system”, says Veronica Islas.
The organization may provide one-time assistance, or follow up on a regular basis with families who have specific challenges.
In return, these women’s volunteer work allows them to obtain an accreditation for training and mentorship hours, much like an internship, which is a major asset for their integration in the workforce.
“Most of these mentors are highly educated women who are struggling to have their training and experience recognized here, in Québec” explains Veronica Islas.
On the one side, are families who benefit from personalized mentorship at a critical time, and on the other are women who, through this gratifying experience, broaden their professional horizons. Everyone stands to gain from this program.
“The project is being assessed by the Laboratoire de recherche en relations interculturelles of the Université de Montréal, who has noted the transformation in the way participants perceived Québec society before and after entering the program: women who had originally considered Québec to be very closed, come to recognize it as an open society… once someone actually takes the time to explain to them how things work!” adds Veronica Islas.
Carnets de migration (Migration booklets)
Women from more than 50 ethnic communities meet at Concertation-Femme, in Ahuntsic-Cartierville, in order to receive assistance of all kinds, to take part in social activities, to use the drop-in child care services or to participate in workshops.
The project “Récits du cœur. Carnets de migration à Montréal”, launched at the beginning of April, is part of the organization’s annual francization programming.
“Every year, a writing project is proposed to women who are enrolled in our francization classes, says Maysoun Faouri, director of Concertation-Femme. “Carnet de contes”, “Carnet de recettes”, and in 2017, “Carnet de migration”
“This allowed us to involve Plaestinian novelist Yara El-Ghaban”, added Maysoun Faouri. As part of their French courses, students were thus able to exchange with the novelist, who invited them to tell the story of their migration.
“One can feel, through every story, which women are still mourning the loss of their country of origin, and which of them are well settled in their new lives”, says Maysoun Faouri. As a result, Concertation-Femme organized workshops on this type of grief.
Concertation-Femme creates bonds between the residents of the new homeland and newcomers. In this spirit, students from Évangéline and De La Dauversière high schools were invited to listen to these women’s stories and to draw what the stories evoked for them, thus illustrating the booklet. A unifying project!