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Leading newcomer women out of isolation
If you’re a newcomer woman who wants to become more involved with the community and learn new skills, such as how to tell stories through video, do community research and deliver workshops, consider applying for the upcoming Immigrant Women's Integration Program (IWIP). This intensive one-year skills training course, which focuses on community engagement and leadership development, is geared to immigrant women living in certain Toronto neighbourhoods, namely St. James Town, Moss Park and Regent Park and Toronto’s 13 priority neighbourhoods. Participants need good oral and written communication skills in English and fluency in a language other than English.
IWIP aims to help newcomer women become more engaged with their community, to have a voice and be able to advocate for themselves, and to develop social networks and connections with local agencies, says Alison Chan, manager of operations and development for the Centre for Community Learning and Development (CCL&D), which runs IWIP. Chan, who notes that many immigrants — men as well as women — are very isolated, says that the program is geared towards women who want to be involved and make changes in their community. “We’re very happy with the results,” she says. “Most of the time we see a pretty transformative change in the women.”
In addition to supporting women, there is also a job readiness component to the program (participants work on resumés, cover letters and interviewing as well as create a digital portfolio). The women are also provided with a three-month unpaid internship at a local community or social services agency, which has sometimes lead to a paying position with the organization.
IWIP began in 2002 as a part-time program and has since developed into something more comprehensive, says Chan. Participants attend the program from 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. (the hours allow them to drop off and pick up their school-age kids, if they have any) and are sometimes assigned additional homework. As well, as having an interest in local issues. The deadline to apply to IWIP is July 13. (For instructions, go to the bottom of the IWIP page.)
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