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
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 Senator Marc Gold 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, 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! 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. While our plans have been put on hold due to COVID, we look forward to continuing this project soon.
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, herself a former refugee, teaches hands on sewing skills and also creates a safe space for women to share conversation and break isolation.
A first group began in the spring of 2019, and a second group began in January 2020. 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.
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.
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.
Ancient Texts... Contemporary Conversations
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.
See all videos here.