Navigating Trauma: PINAY Quebec’s pursuit of Strength and Unity for Caregivers and Temporary Foreign Workers

In the spirit of community and empowerment, PINAY Quebec recently concluded its second seminar, “Empowerment sa Montreal: Nurturing Caregivers’ Strength and Unity.” On September 16th, 2023, Caregivers, Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs), and Immigrants once again gathered, both in-person and online, to continue their journey towards self-empowerment and mutual support.

This picture captures the participants and presenters in PINAY's second seminar. There were about twenty participants in this seminar, sitting around two tables. Presenters Joshua Corpus and Jasmin de la Calzada were standing in the front and giving their presentations. They were talking about forced migration and current situations in the Philippines. The PowerPoint slide reads: “Forced migration: number, reasons, and human costs
PINAY Quebec’s second seminar “Empowerment sa Montreal” at International Women’s Alliance’s office

The main objectives of the seminar were to provide education to the participants regarding trauma, facilitate an atmosphere of open sharing of personal experiences, establish a secure environment for seeking support, and taught participants the steps to navigate through the process of applying for Permanent Residency. The seminar was skillfully led by the committed BAYANIHAN team at PINAY Quebec, which includes the BAYANIHAN Project Coordinator, Cheney Cortes, Community Outreach Coordinator, Jela Dela Peña, and Community Engagement Coordinator, Joshua Corpus.

To create a comfortable and engaging environment for all participants, Dela Peña facilitated an Ice Breaker activity at the beginning of the session. Participants were paired up to foster better connections and understanding amongst each other. During this activity, partners were asked a variety of questions, including their place of origin in the Philippines, their favorite foods, and their personal goals. It was heartening to discover that many individuals shared the common goal of obtaining Permanent Residency in Canada.

Following the Ice Breaker, Corpus led a unique and introspective activity called the “River of Life.” Participants were guided through a series of thought-provoking questions representing different stages of their lives. During the first stage, called “The Source,” participants were encouraged to reflect on their place of home and their sense of belonging. One participant expressed “My dreams to be a PR. My ideal vision is for my family to come to Canada. My fears, if not allowed to apply for PR.” This highlights the significance of immigration status and the importance of family ties within the Filipino/a/x Community.

The next stage, known as “The Rapids,” involved identifying the challenges and conflicts individuals had faced throughout their lives and how they navigated through them. One participant shared their experience: “I used to have a bad employer before. She always called me stupid or crazy. It was very harmful and it affected me emotionally and mentally.” Sharing such personal and emotional experiences at work, this narrative addresses the issues related to workplace mistreatment and underscores the importance of creating supportive employment conditions. It also highlights the need for institutions such as community organizations to provide workers with various forms of social support, resources, and counseling to help them navigate these difficult times.

This image displays a PowerPoint slide titled “The Rapids”. This is a group activity that invites participants to engage by answering two questions: 1. What methods or support have helped you overcome the challenges? 2. What support can help you overcome these trigger moments?
The Powerpoint Slide of the “The Rapids” Group Activity

Through the “River of Life” activity, participants not only engaged in self-reflection but also cultivated empathy as they actively listened to each other’s stories and offered support. Additionally, they were encouraged to consider what insights they would share with the Philippine Government based on their own experiences and how improvements could be made to enhance the lives of caregivers and temporary foreign workers abroad. 

During the final activity of the seminar, Cheney Cortes led a discussion on the topic of “Do-It-Yourself Permanent Residency”. Cortes guided the participants through the complexities of the Permanent Residency application process, providing detailed explanations of the required documents and presenting various pathways that attendees could consider based on their unique circumstances and future goals. 

In this picture, Cheney Cortes is standing in the front and explaining different pathways to Permanent Residency to migrant workers using a PowerPoint presentation. The PowerPoint slide reads: "Permanent Residency Flowchart." This flowchart provides detailed information about the PR pathways, required documents, language resources, and links to certain immigration websites.
Cheney Cortes was explaining different pathways to Permanent Residency

In alignment with the core principle of “Bayanihan” – a Filipino term that encapsulates the essence of community spirit and cooperation to extend assistance – PINAY aims to uphold this spirit throughout our upcoming seminar sessions. The valuable contributions of Caregivers, Temporary Foreign Workers, and other migrant workers have been instrumental in enabling the work of PINAY Quebec. We sincerely appreciate the support, input, and active involvement of these individuals.

PINAY Quebec extends its gratitude to Women and Gender Equality Canada’s Gender-Based Violence Program for making this seminar possible. For more information about upcoming events or the PINAY Quebec community, please reach out to bayanihan@pinayquebec.org. Together, we will continue to nurture strength and unity among caregivers and immigrant communities in Montreal.


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