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. Creating the space for individuals to contribute their own skills, gifts and talents is the key to this work.
Women Weaving their Dreams (WWD)
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.
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, the catering collective offers the opportunity for people to taste delicious food while supporting newcomer women. 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 WWD Catering Collective has transformed into a bustling success and has ensured women participants receive their Food Handling Certificate.
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 skill building.
In 2019, after Mountainside United Church donated 10 sewing machines, the women’s sewing bee was formed! The sewing instructor, a former refugee herself, teaches hands on sewing skills while creating a safe space for women to share conversation and break isolation.
With the advent of the pandemic, the women asked to have the machines delivered to their homes and the Good Neighbor Mask project was launched.
As of February 2020, over 1,000 masks have been sewn and delivered to front line organizations working with the homeless. The women, most of whom have recently arrived in Canada, are proud to be making a contribution. Future plans include expanding the program to introduce a French conversation component.
Holistic Reconciliation within Newcomer Families was a project started in 2021. Our instructor facilitated 5 group sessions on intercultural parenting issues with the Arab immigrants community.
We noticed the burning need among the immigrant community, to decode parenting issues in two different cultures (collectivism vs. individualism).
MCM's Past Projects
Gathering At The Table.
Gathering at Table, bringing together newcomer and Canadian born seniors to discuss food, spirituality and plan a cookbook! Memories from family meals long ago, favorite recipes and reflections on the power of food to create spiritual connections were among the many themes shared that day. This project has gotten off to an exciting start and promises to have an impact far and wide.
As divisions and harsh rhetoric increase, the most vulnerable among us pay the price and society as a whole suffers. But together we are making a difference! MCM services, projects and programs, our joint visioning with St. James United on the future on this downtown faith and social justice hub that is the St. James site, and our many intercultural partners, all voice a resounding YES to inclusion, hospitality and justice.
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.
Many thanks to the Good Samaritan Fund for supporting this endeavour
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.
Music writ large has been an important part of our work with teens and young adults over the past five years. Activities in this domain include: composition and performance workshops at MCM under the guidance of a professional musician; poetry, rap & dance workshops at École Louis Joseph Papineau in Montréal-Nord with students from the Classes d'accueil under the guidance of a professional dancer and rapper; recording and posting of original compositions on social media; performance of song and dance at MCM-SJU intercultural events.
The conversation that animates this exercise is an exploration of ways to learn about the challenges of our historical and political situation and the struggles of everyday life, through the collective study of religious texts of different faiths.
AT—CC echoes traditional Bible Studies among Protestant Christians but is refigured here to accommodate multifaith contexts and our new technological realities.