After weeks of honing their sewing skills, a group of newcomers to Halifax put their handicrafts up for sale on Sunday — a milestone in their completion of a local job skills program and their integration into the community.
The Veith House Community Hub hosted its annual Women’s Market, featuring clothing, tablecloths, bags and more made by women who are new to Halifax.
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Veith House newcomer co-ordinator Saida Gazie said the program teaches them an employable skill and helps them build connections and friendships in the city. It also provides them with a space to speak their language and share their culture once a week, with childcare provided.
“After one year, they get a certificate. After they get a certificate, they can go and work,” said Gazie.
“We have one or two ladies who start working now. After the market, the people come and buy the product from them and they feel very good, like help promotion for the newcomers actually.”
The program is open to everyone, including refugees, immigrants and temporary foreign workers.
Seventeen-year-old Assmaa Zein from Egypt took part in the program this year. She had never sewn anything before, and wants to sign up for the next round of classes, so she can take her skills to the next level and open a business.
“I’m thinking to buy a sewing machine at home so I can do little stuff and sell it to my friends first, and then sell it to my friend’s friends and then all around Halifax,” she said. “I’m feeling that one day I’m going to have a store that sells this stuff.”
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Halifax MP Andy Fillmore comes to the Women’s Market every year and is continually impressed by the goods for sale.
“It’s giving low-cost clothing to people who need low-cost clothing,” Fillmore said. “I was particularly struck by the people focusing on reusable shopping bags. As you know, the world is phasing out single-use plastic shopping bags and the market is responding, even right here at Veith House.”
Fillmore believes events like these help bring the community together.
“Newcomers bring so much to the city. This is a great example of that,” he added. “This program has integrated women into the community in a really incredible way.
“It’s giving people confidence (and) it’s giving them skills that can help them become employed.”
The women’s market will be back in 2020, with new faces and new handicrafts for sale on the tables.
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