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Sister to Sister

Building bridges


First meeting of the Pinays MB and the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute to plan the “Sister to Sister” project. L-r: Irene Medina, Erum Tanvir, Rita Ramchandar, Zulaika Rahim, Yasmin Ali, Perla Javate, Najma Siddiqui, Aireen Miaral, Araceli Ancheta and Roselyn Advincula.
Photo by Alex Canlapan

WINNIPEG – On Saturday, April 8, 2017, a group of women from two different cultures met for the first time to plan an event that could create a lasting relationship between two communities that hardly know each other.

Members of Pinays MB Inc. and the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute (CMWI) have laid the groundwork for the Sister to Sister special project. It is an event to be held in the fall that aims to provide an opportunity for women from the Filipino and Muslim communities to interact with each other. The goal is to create lasting relationships and cross-cultural understanding, to promote dialogue between the Filipino and the Muslim communities, and to act as a bridge between the two communities for generations to come.

“This is a great beginning of sisterhood – the sharing of information and ideas; of halal food and lots of fun and laughter! It makes us more aware of our Muslim sisters in the Philippines!” said Perla Javate of Pinays MB during the meet-and-greet brunch.

The two cultural groups acknowledged that they have little knowledge of each other in spite of living in close proximity to each other and accessing many of the same resources in Manitoba. By bringing the two communities together, the expectation is to show that while there are certain differences, they have more things in common, especially those in the community who are first or second generation Canadians. It is the two groups’ desire to get a better understanding of each community and learn about each other as people.

Pinays MB and the CMWI will be the joint organizers of the event. Muslim women from the refugee and immigrant communities will be invited. The Muslim community in Manitoba is made up of a number of distinct cultural groups, so there will be representation from a diversity of cultures including the Syrian, Somali, Iraqi, Afghani, Pakistani, and Filipino communities. Filipino women, from all walks of life, will also be encouraged to attend.

The lead organizers

Pinays MB Inc. is a dynamic empowering group of Filipino women in Manitoba founded in 2016. It aims to be a valuable resource for women of all ages to become resilient, confident and strong. Pinays MB seeks to recognize women who have made outstanding contributions to the Philippine community and in the mainstream community. Its other goals include providing support to Filipino women through confidence building, leadership and communication training, and participation in organized activities, and to identify and address issues of Filipino women in Winnipeg, such as settlement for new immigrants, and parenting. The new organization also strives to write the history of Filipino women in Manitoba. The executive membership is comprised of women from different organizations here in Manitoba.

The Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute Inc. (CMWI) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2006. The CMWI is the first organization of its kind in Manitoba where Muslim women are both the leaders of, and participants in, their own organization. The goal of the Institute is to promote and empower refugee and newcomer women and their families socially, economically and spiritually. An elected Board comprised of women of diverse cultures, ages and professions, runs the CMWI.

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