Alona Korotysh sings an Ukranian song on stage at Archway’s International Women’s Day celebration at Central Heights Church
The Community Connections program at Archway Community Services hosted its 10th annual event celebrating International Women’s Day on March 17th. Around 170 newcomer women enjoyed performances, speeches, dinner and gifts at Central Heights Church.
“It’s all about women coming together to connect with each other and take part in each other’s lives, said Archway Community Connections Supervisor Elise Marier.
“Hearing from other women through stories, song and dance allows each woman to see themselves represented in a unique way. We may not all experience the same adversity or trauma, but when we share our experiences, we acknowledge the strength and growth in others while also recognizing the same in ourselves.”
One of the speakers, Sanjota Pallan shared her six-year journey to become a permanent resident and the help she received at Archway along the way. Pallan encouraged fellow newcomers to “believe in yourself and know that we are in a wonderful community that supports us.”
Event Coordinator Parminder Maan shared about her difficult journey since immigrating in 2013 and how she eventually found success. Maan echoed Pallan, “I know I was there too once, but I never gave up… So always stay positive. You came this far. You can make it ahead when you believe in yourself.”
Representing other displaced Ukrainians, Lubov Plet played a Ukrainian song on her violin and Alona Korotysh performed a traditional Ukrainian song. Claudia Rivas sang a Mexican song and a stirring rendition of Hallelujah in Spanish. A multicultural dance group from Chilliwack showed that language wasn’t a barrier to working together and the performances ended with a Giddha dance, a popular folk dance from the Punjab region.
Giddha group performing on stage
“Hearing from other women through stories, song and dance allows each woman to see themselves represented in a unique way.”
Giddha dance group performers waiting to perform
Hakima Mohammadi who immigrated from Afghanistan in September 2022 shared a poem in Dari and recounted how she was scared at first but now her fears are gone since Canadians had embraced her. She said she was becoming stronger everyday. In her home country she said all women were in a virtual prison and girls were deprived from school. She is so thankful that she and her daughter can study and work in Canada.
The Community Connections Volunteer Coordinator, Lata Aggarwal said the speakers, “give us hope. Women are made of steel.”
Following the performances, participants enjoyed dinner and dessert, accompanied by a violinist, and ended the night with a multicultural dance party.
“There are numerous upheavals and atrocities occurring globally and women and children are often disproportionally affected in times of war, oppression, and disaster. For this year’s International Women’s Day our theme was growth which acknowledges the hardships that women endure, while focusing on the resilience and strength that each woman holds,” said Marier.
The event’s growth theme was further symbolized by the plants donated by Van Belle Nursery for participants.
“I want to say a huge thank you to Van Belle Nursery and the Archway Food Bank as well as Central Heights Church for allowing us to use their space and supporting the preparation of the event,” said Marier. “This event can only happen because of them and all of the 45 staff and volunteers who mobilized to pull this event off.”
The Archway Community Connections program offers many opportunities for volunteers and newcomers at various stages of settlement in Canada to connect. If you would like more information, please visit the Community Connections program page.
“For this year’s International Women’s Day our theme was growth which acknowledges the hardships that women endure, while focusing on the resilience and strength that each woman holds.”