Community and Support

When Nira first lived in Etobicoke, the fact that everything was so spread out offered little opportunity to meet people on the street. In those first five years, she did not have her family or friends to support her through difficult times, such as during her divorce. While “not [having] the pressures of [her] family” in some ways made this decision easier, it also meant that she knew “it wasn’t going to be easy.” No family also meant no support to raise her two kids while she was a university student and single mother. Without the support of family or friends, Nira found it difficult to fully adjust to life in Toronto.

A camera given to Nira by her grandfather and one of the few objects she brought with her during her first voyage to Toronto. While it may not work, she cherishes it as a memento of her friends and family in Valparaiso. Courtesy of Nira Elgueta.

One of the first things Nira tells newcomers who are struggling in Toronto is to “get some friends.” She tells them “to try to find somebody who [they] have connections with and spend some time together because at the end of the day, those people are going to become your family.” For Nira, “friends are very valuable” and make up her support network in Toronto. Friends are people “she can ask to go to the park with, talk to in tough times or just have a cup of coffee with.” It is through the creation of a support network that Nira was able to build a community in her everyday life and in her role at the Working Women Community Centre. By having a community, Nira has been able to flourish in order to help other newcomers find their place in Toronto.