Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo workshops that tackle tough topics for Arabic-speaking newcomers to end

A program designed to answer the tough questions immigrants have about their new community is about to wrap up, and organizers say there is appetite for more.

Workshops, which are led by a police officer, are translated from English into Arabic

Asam Alwahsh, who organised the workshops on behalf of the Arab Women of Waterloo Region is shown here with WRPS Chief Bryan Larkin. (Asma Alwahsh)

A program designed to answer the tough questions newcomers have about Canada and their new community is about to wrap up, and organizers say there is appetite for more. 

On Wednesday, 28 Arabic-speaking women will sit through the last in a series of workshops delivered by a Waterloo police officer.

The workshops have touched on everything from domestic violence to fraud to cyber crime and are translated from English to Arabic.

"Some of them, they are really new," said Asma Alwahsh, who organized the workshops on behalf of the Arab Women of Waterloo Region. "They were shocked with all of this information ... The interesting thing is we have other women, they've been five or six years [in the region.] They were like, 'Oh. Wow. We don't know about this stuff.'"

They were like, 'Why can't we have more?'- Asma Alwahsh, Arab Women of Waterloo Region

Alwahsh said the fraud workshop was particularly important because many of the women had not thought about protecting their identity.

She said the women in the group said they gave personal information to people who asked and dumped information or paperwork in the garbage.

The officer told them that it was better to buy a shredder for papers that included their personal information. 

Now that the workshops are coming to an end, Alwahsh said the women are asking for more programming. 

"They were like, 'Why can't we have more?'" she said, adding they'd like the workshops offered for their husbands as well.

Alwahsh said she would like to offer more workshops in the future, either for the women or their husbands, but it will depend on whether her organization can find the money to fund them and on whether police will supply an officer to act as the instructor