Where are the voices of immigrant women?

Canada’s immigration level has increased in recent years. Citizenship and Immigration Canada reported that 257,515 newcomers entered Canada in 2012, which is a jump from the previous year’s total of 248,751.

Yet, for McMaster University social work professor Mirna Carranza, this slight spike in numbers does little to highlight the actual stories and experiences of immigrants. At a community level, she believes the voices of immigrant women are not heard or presented. Rather, Carranza thinks immigrants are misunderstood and regarded as “burdens” to the system.

“How come the resiliency of immigrant women (and people) are not presented in Canadian literature?” she asked.

Full article at The Women’s Press newspaper page 9.

Father battles immigration to stay together

Hamilton native Ian Wilkie did not expect to face such resistance keeping his family together in Canada, his home country. Father to three children, ages six to 11, Wilkie is facing an uphill legal battle as he fights for his Egyptian wife Wafaa Abdou to be released from immigration detention.

Wilkie met Abdou when he was working as an English teacher at an American language centre in Egypt; she was his next-door neighbour. They eventually were married in 2001 and settled down in Damascus, the capital of Syria. Civil unrest in Syria propelled him to leave the country and his job. As the situation became more violent, Wilkie brought Abdou and his children back to Canada.

Front page story in The Women’s Press newspaper.

Disaster relief on the job

Maria E. Peña-Zaldivar is no stranger to dirt, dust and mould in houses; it is her job to remove them.

Working for Tri-Star Disaster Recovery, Zaldivar does mould-cleaning for houses of all sizes. While she has done regular cleaning before, mould cleaning is more complicated, she said.

The 27-year-old was born and raised in Cuba and lived in Spain for 6 years. She graduated from business administration, but left her job on the desk to enroll in the army in Spain. Coming to Canada in 2010, she immediately took on the role as a regular cleaner for Tri-Star, before moving on to do mould-cleaning in 2011.

Full article in The Women’s Press newspaper.

Contributions of local women to be celebrated at awards

A science student at McMaster, no woman in Nashwa Khan’s extended family ever went to university. Khan’s mother has never completed high school, let alone pursued a diploma.

With her Pakistani and Moroccan background, the 21 year old finds herself in a unique position. She is the youngest member on Hamilton’s Status of Women committee, and one of few ethnic minorities. This voluntary committee works to improve the lives of women in the city.

Recently nominated for the YWCA Hamilton’s Women of Distinction Awards, Khan joins 11 others as nominees in Young Woman of Distinction category, for youth ages 21 and below.

Full article at The Women’s Press.

Hargitai’s: Home to tasty crêpes

Many think of thin, light crêpes as a French delicacy, available only in luxurious Parisian restaurants. But for Maria Branigan, it is a snack close to home. Born in Budapest, Hungary, crêpe was a staple food in her household – she even ate them for lunch or dinner.

As the owner of Hamilton’s newest crêperie, Hargitai’s, Branigan brings recipes from her kitchen home to the dining table of her vibrant restaurant. Hargitai’s, named after her maiden name, launched in April 2012.

The inspiration to start a crêperie came to her after seeing how popular it was in Toronto – customers lining up for crêpes even after 11 at night.

Full article at The Women’s Press newspaper.