Message from the President
Riverdale Immigrant Women’s Centre’s (RIWC) remains steadfastly committed to providing culturally appropriate and linguistically specific settlement, anti-violence and employment services to marginalized women and their families in the Toronto area. Over the years, we have had to expand our reach to include other under-served members of our community, including youth, seniors, LGBTQ, and refugees who are isolated and have limited access to services. We continue to operate from a holistic and integrated model to address the social, cultural and political realities of minority communities informed by feminist and anti-racist values to ensure our members receive all available services when they need them.
The success of our programs can be attributed in large part to effective outreach activities and the unwavering support of our community partners. We received increased referrals to our Violence Against Women (VAW) program from shelter workers seeking stronger support and coordinated care for vulnerable women. Lawyers and psychotherapists also recommended our counselling services to refugee claimants so that they could develop coping strategies to deal with the stress around the hearing process. Professional facilitators and representatives from non-profit organizations delivered engaging and informative workshops to participants in our employment programs to impart the resources, skills, training and certifications they required to secure meaningful work. Some of our partners even became venues for work placements and potential employment. We also relied on internal and external guest speakers to further support the Women in the Garden (WIG) program with innovative health and wellness workshops to complement our regular gardening, cooking, and yoga activities.
Our networks are strong as we work towards building our capacity in several areas. Over the past year, RIWC worked with academic advisors and stakeholders from immigrant, refugee and Indigenous communities to help guide the development of an Intercultural Intergenerational Resiliency Framework (IIRF) to inform our approach to family and community counselling for newcomers. We also partnered with a consortium of private sector partners to gain insights into the lived experiences and barriers encountered by women in the restaurant industry by evaluating key policy issues using a gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) framework. RIWC staff continued to connect and network with key housing stakeholder groups to sustain the important work of the Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN) in influencing housing decisions at the systemic level to address gaps in services. We also embarked on a four-year project to conduct a GBA+ review of all of RIWC’s programs and policies.
As a result, key fundraising objectives and strategic directions were identified and integrated into a draft five-year strategic plan for the organization. Towards the end of the fiscal year, COVID-19 tested our resolve and determination as we came up with creating ways to ensure the continuation of our much needed services with limited disruption. We would like to thank our staff, volunteers, placement students, and board and committee members for their continued commitment and hard work in supporting the delivery of essential services to members of our community, especially during these difficult times.