International Women’s Day: how can we improve the refugee experience?
Conversations that educate, inform, motivate and inspire are the foundation of the AMAL Center for Women’s new seminar series.
A story of triumph
On March 10, in collaboration with Concordia’s Office of Community Engagement, AMAL will host its first seminar, Fostering a Collaborative Community Approach to Understanding the Refugee Crisis, in the Henry F. Hall Building from 6:45 to 9 p.m.
The keynote speaker is Léontine Uwababyeyi, a participant in Concordia’s Mapping Memories project who came to Canada as a refugee eight years ago from Rwanda.
Mapping Memories is a collaborative media project that uses personal stories and media tools to better understand the experiences of youth refugees in Montreal.
In light of the Syrian crisis, Uwababyeyi’s story of triumph over adversity is especially relevant.
Despite the goodwill of the province's population, Quebec's current refugee initiatives are isolated and uncoordinated. To address this, seminar participants will be encouraged to come up with input for a document that details top considerations for refugees.
Participants will brainstorm resources and organizations that can cater to those considerations and identify some non-classic ways to deal with issues.
AMAL will collate these ideas and come up with a short position paper that highlights a collaborative community view.
Using conversation to foster growth and well-being
The AMAL Center for Women is a registered, non-profit, community-based organization focused on addressing the needs of women and their families affected by domestic abuse.
Its mission is to provide support and assistance in a culturally competent manner to women in hopes of fostering their well-being and development. The centre believes that talking about experiences is the best way to move forward from them, so it values conversations on any topic.
The centre is also launching the AMAL fellows program in April. The fellows are a group of women passionate about issues that affect women, including domestic violence, family, health, lifestyle or entrepreneurship. Through this six-month program, 12 junior and senior fellows will be selected to focus on a topic for publication in an AMAL book.
Fellows will meet for a monthly coffee hour during the program. Each month, a different mentor will present to the group on a topic to support fellows’ research, writing and development of communication skills.
Mentors include Leslie Perez, a vibrant member of the Jewish community, and public relations and communications professional, who pitched a TV show to Bell to showcase local philanthropists.
Another mentor is Cassandra Steer, a post-doctoral researcher at McGill who has authored several publications and led many research projects. She hosts a series, Shut Up and Write, which encourages focus and dedication toward writing projects.
Each month a different fellow will lead a discussion on their chosen topic to practise delivering their message. Fellows will also be expected to write a monthly blog piece to be distributed through AMAL's social media networks that can serve as the foundation of their contribution to the book.
The AMAL fellows’ book will be launched in mid-November in celebration of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The seminar, Fostering a Collaborative Community Approach to Understanding the Refugee Crisis, takes place on Thursday, March 10, from 6:45 to 9 p.m. in Room H-621 of the Henry F. Hall Building (1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.), Sir George Williams Campus.
There is a $10 optional donation from participants. All proceeds go toward counselling and crisis intervention services provided by the Amal Center to women in the Montreal community, some of whom are refugees.