maa'n / together
This program was initiated in the wake of the Syrian refugee crises that aims to facilitate integration of all newcomers whatever their origin through concrete projects and inter-cultural partnerships.
women weaving their dreams
This project began in 2017 with the aim of helping women newcomers integrate more successfully into their new communities by placing an emphasis on building language skills, strengthening self-confidence, fostering a sense of belonging, and maintaining a positive attitude.
This holistic approach first took shape in the form of a series of workshops on the themes of loss, grief, and healing. This was followed by a series of workshops related to themes of empowerment and included group outings, such as visiting Parliament Hill and meeting with a Senator(?) to promote civic engagement. As women got to know each other better, strong bonds of friendship and community were formed. Since then, the focus of the project has moved towards job training, and exploring volunteer and employment opportunities that offer the women concrete ways to contribute to their communities.
After the women’s group became well established, the Women Weaving their Dreams Catering Collective was formed. This collective, specializing in Middle Eastern cuisine, has been active since 2018. Based on the idea that a shared meal can break down cultural and linguistic barriers, this catering collective offers the opportunity for people to taste delicious food while supporting a great initiative. The collective also provides participating women with a supplemental income, an opportunity to maintain contact with other group members, and to have their cooking talents valued. The Collective has transformed into a bustling success! Currently, we are working on getting women participants their Food Handling Certificate, secure a more consistent industrial kitchen space, and launch an online ordering platform for customers.
Our impact in 2019
Number of events catered
Amount payed out to women
Nationality breakdown of the women participants
women's sewing group
As WWD evolved to focus on building its catering service, MCM continued to see a need to have a weekly women’s meet up group with a focus on practical activities and skills building. In 2019, after Mountainside United Church donated 10 sewing machines, the women’s sewing bee was formed! A first group began in the spring of 2019, and a second group began in January 2020. The sewing instructor, herself a former refugee, teaches hands on sewing skills and also creates a safe space for women to share conversation and break isolation. Future plans include expanding the program to introduce a French conversation component.
Our impact in 2019
This initiative began as an outreach program to support newcomer seniors. After this initial assessment phase, it became clear that there were high levels of isolation and depression among male immigrant seniors. To address this, an Arabic-speaking weekly seniors meet-up was organized. The group has slowly grown in numbers and a great camaraderie has developed among members. Each senior has been asked to identify a talent or an interest to explore. We are currently matching seniors with creative projects to meet our goal of encouraging self-expression and solidifying a sense of belonging. A second phase of the group is planned to give Canadian-born seniors and newcomer seniors chances to meet and participate in group activities together.
There are not enough opportunities to engage seniors and to hear those voices from different cultural communities. As a new MCM elder-in-residence, I look forward with excitement to conversations across generational and cultural boundaries that will no doubt enrich all involved.
Our impact in 2019