The power of the needle and thread stitches up bonds between newcomers
The group also helps women forge friendships and improve their English skills
A support group for female immigrants and refugees in Calgary is helping women avoid becoming socially isolated through the power of a needle and thread.
The Centre for Newcomers peer support group meets weekly for the next three months, helping women from countries like India, Bangladesh and Somalia make new friends and practise speaking English while learning how to run a sewing machine.
"The objective is way deeper than sewing skill development," said Bukurie Mino, associate director of the centre's settlement program.
"Most of them don't speak any English or have very limited English and because of that they isolate themselves at home and that can have a very negative impact," said Mino.
It's about helping women integrate and creating important new friendships.
"They need friends to go out, for a walk in the park, to go for a coffee and to learn about Canadian society," said Mino.
"Women are eager to contribute and participate fully and connect with mainstream Canada socially and learn as much as possible about Canadian culture, and make Canadian friends too," she added.
The group is bringing families closer together too, with mothers passing on sewing skills to their daughters, and daughters helping mothers improve their English skills.
Dolly Begum has worked with newcomers for 22 years since arriving in Calgary as an immigrant herself. She's now a settlement counselor with the Centre for Newcomers.
"When I first came I know what kind of problem they face, so I love to work with immigrants," said Begum, who speaks Bengali, Hindi and Punjabi.
"We just want bring them out and let them do something themselves and they learn skills here," said Begum.
Begum says many of the issues are the same as we when she arrived in Canada more than two decades ago, but there are more newcomers now.
"They are like my relatives. They are so close, like my brother or sister," Begum said.
The sewing program runs Thursday afternoons from 1 to 4 p.m.
The Centre for Newcomers is situated in the Pacific Place Mall in Calgary's northeast.
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