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Women's Stories

Serena's Story

My husband and I came to Canada five years ago, because we wanted our children to have a better life. A distant cousin who lives in Scarborough had told us that it was a good place to live and that we would be able to find work quite easily.

I wasn't prepared for the emotional shock of being in such a different place. Although Canada is very beautiful, so many things are different. We didn't know about the laws, we didn't understand what people were saying, and we missed our family back home. But we were determined to do well, and to bring our skills to this new place.

My children started at the local school within a few weeks of our arrival. It didn't take long before they were much more comfortable with English than I was. I had learned English at school back home, but everyone spoke so quickly here, and I wasn't sure what they meant. The kids started to laugh at me because I was so "stupid". It became harder to discipline them or make them do their homework. The school phoned one day because they were worried about my son, Johnny. He was acting out in class, and he had failed a test. He was trying to get respect from the other boys, and was ashamed of his accent. I had to ask my neighbour to explain the message, because I couldn't understand it.

My husband was disappointed that he could only find a job driving a taxi, but at least he was working. I still couldn't find a job at all. We were getting scared about money, and depressed about how hard everything was.

My neighbour saw how worried I was, and knew about our problems with Johnny. She told me about Scarborough Women's Centre. She said that it was a place where I would be welcome to discuss my concerns, and get help in finding out what to do about them. She said that women from my country, and many other countries had found help there, and that I didn't need to be embarrassed about my difficulties in getting used to Canada.

I made an appointment with the Counsellor, and she took the time to listen to me, and speak carefully so I could understand her. She told me about some training programs that would help, and she counselled with me for a few months so that I could talk about my personal feelings. I didn't want to burden my family with my fears. She also introduced me to a volunteer who met with me on a regular basis to practice my English, and discuss life in Canada. The volunteer was very patient, and she introduced me to some of her friends. One day we went ice-skating at the Scarborough Civic Centre with our kids. It was so much fun to feel like part of something again, and know that we were becoming Canadian.

When I felt a little more confident, I attended a workshop on Self Esteem at the Women's Centre. They helped me apply the lessons I had been learning with the Counsellor, and I began to remember how much I had contributed to my community back home. I want to do that again here. I am studying at the community college to get my certification to work in my field here in Canada. My children are so impressed with how I've changed, and they're starting to do better at school too. The other day, Johnny said "I want to get better marks than you, Mom".

I'm so happy that I found out about Scarborough Women's Centre. I hope that other women like me who are getting established in Canada will find them too. I know I'm going to tell everyone I meet! Thank you for helping the Centre make it possible for women to get the support they need so that they can become proud Canadians too!

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© Scarborough Women's Centre
2100 Ellesmere Road., Suite 245
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M1H 3B7
Charity No. 10795-9660-RR0001