Women's group aims to sew 300 masks for Winnipeg's inner city residents

By learning how to make face masks, they're also finding connection.

Masks will be distributed through the Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthews Community Association

Twenty-five women in Manitoba participated in the mask sewing workshop on Saturday night. In the next few weeks, each participant will sew at least 12 masks each to donate to the Daniel McIntyre / St. Matthews Community Association. (Submitted by Jennifer Chen )

A group of 25 women in Manitoba are finding ways to stay connected and give back by hand-sewing face masks for Winnipeg's inner city residents. 

Women of Colour Community Leadership Initiative (WCCLI) Manitoba has been hosting weekly virtual craft sessions for its members. On Saturday night, it organized a session teaching its members how to hand-sew face masks. 

By the end of the hour-and-a-half lesson, the women each sewed their own mask — but that's just the beginning. Their goal is to sew 300 in the coming weeks. 

"We designed these activities to try to teach people a new skill, and at the same time give back to the community by donating masks to the community members," said Jennifer Chen, WCCLI's president. 

Finding connection 

Loreto Gutierrez said she wanted to participate in the initiative to connect with other immigrant women. 

"I was born here in Canada, however, I was raised by immigrants. My experience growing up is different than those of my peers," she said. 

Loreto Gutierrez wears the face mask she sewed on Saturday. Her aim is to make seventeen more. (Submitted by Loreto Gutierrez)

Gutierrez said she's able to relate better to the stories that were shared during the session and the lesson has helped with her mental health — allowing her to break out of her routine. 

"We are growing together and becoming strong together, and helping each other by learning these crafts and skills together," Gutierrez said. 

'Overcome these challenges together' 

Chen said the masks will be donated through the Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthews Community Association, for residents who live in the association's area. 

"Inner city communities don't have access to resources to stay safe, so that's why we are doing this and hopefully we overcome these challenges together," said Chen. 

The community association also sponsored the weekly crafting workshops. With funding, participants were able to get materials delivered to their doors. 

Gutierrez said she's aiming to have 18 masks finished in the next week.

"Seventeen more to go now. But hopefully with practice, it'll go a little bit faster," she said. 

The workshop was led by a volunteer instructor through Zoom. (Submitted by Jennifer Chen )