Christabell’s own experiences with motherhood, migration, and violence affect her work at the Rexdale Women’s Centre, where she works as a parenting and social work counsellor. She especially works with newcomer women, introducing them to Canada’s freedoms, rules, and fundamental rights. One of her projects was the ‘Do You Know’ Project with Syrian refugee women in 2016. Christabell’s own encounters with violence helped her connect with the women she was counselling despite their language barriers.
Though I don’t know their language, first I went and I introduced myself, “I am from Sri Lanka,” and one lady, with broken English, she said, “You and me are the same.” So I said “Yes, you are a woman and I am a woman. She said, “No, no, bombing, shelling, shooting, we are the same. So I suddenly connected with them.”
Christabell’s story is certainly not complete. She is currently finishing her PhD, with her thesis focusing on the role of Christianity for women in Sri Lanka. Even with her full-time job and studies, she still finds time to work as a pastor at the Church of the Nazarene. Her hobbies are gardening, reading, writing poems, and writing Christian folk songs. In the future, she plans to publish books that tell the stories of her successes and challenges as a newcomer woman, as well as publishing her own poetry.
Christabell with Family 2018
Image courtesy of Christabell Selvalingham.
Christabell’s front garden 2017.
Image courtesy of Christabell Selvalingham