Working Women Community Centre
As the Community Engagement Coordinator, Nira creates programs for newcomer women in order to help alleviate some of the strains of settlement, such as language barriers or seclusion. The programs focus on these strains through language-building, leadership training, and education, while also offering newcomer artists and inspiring artists a unique space to produce art and to express themselves in a welcoming, supportive and inclusive environment. By organizing mentorships for newcomer women, Nira has helped “break the isolation” she herself has faced. While most of the programs Nira creates satisfy the broader needs of life in Toronto, she sometimes finds herself helping with smaller, yet equally impactful tasks, such as helping newcomers “secure a library card, learn how the TTC works, [or] look at a map of Toronto.” Some of her initiatives have been very successful, however, since most of the organization’s funding comes from grants, the program’s “sustainability is an issue,” making it difficult to connect people to the services they need.
The services she provides, even on a temporary basis, allow newcomer women to “shine [and] thrive, [in order] to feel absolutely comfortable here.” To do this, Nira has formed partnerships with OCAD University, artists and other community organizations, in order to provide the space and tools needed to help these women find creative outlets and feel good about themselves. Many newcomer women have felt empowered through these programs to engage with “parts of their identity that often get lost in [the] translation [of moving to a new place].” They are able to foster deep connections and opportunities to integrate themselves into Toronto society.