Immigrating and Settling in Toronto

In 2003, Nira chose to leave Chile on a sponsorship visa with her two children and her Chilean-Canadian husband. When she first told her family of her decision, she remembers thinking “We were going to see if we liked it or not… I didn’t think that this move was final. I wasn’t thinking that it was going to be permanent. It wasn’t good-bye it was see you later.”

For Nira, the most shocking detail about Toronto was not the weather, but rather moving to a large suburban neighbourhood where she found it difficult to connect to the people around her. After separating from her husband, Nira moved to a new neighbourhood that slowly started to feel like home. As a single mother of two and attending university, Nira struggled because she had no family or support system to fall back on.

While volunteering at a Spanish school for children, Nira met a support staff who recommended that she goes to the Working Women Community Centre for help. Through volunteering and reaching out for support, Nira slowly started feeling settled in Toronto, when she was able to “build a small community around [her]…and get the sense of a support network back.” By volunteering at various organizations, Nira supported other women with challenges similar to hers. It was this volunteer work that led her to her position with the Working Women Community Centre, a place where she already felt “very comfortable,” saying that “you guys helped me at some point in my life.”