Abel: Weaving Words and Wool

by Harleen Bhogal

On Friday, April 26th, we got the pleasure to host our Unravelling in Rhymes workshop for spring! This workshop was hosted by Deann Louise C. Nardo, a Pilipinx non-binary femme poet, artist, organizer, and facilitator living in Tiohtiá:ke/Montréal. The workshop, titled “Abel: Weaving Words and Wool”, combined the art of weaving with creative writing in order to provoke new perspectives. In a way, we were weaving both stories and the wool/yarn.

Abel is the Ilokano word for “weaving”, a traditional craft in the Ilocos region of Northern Philippines. That being said, every culture has a tradition of weaving, and weaving together in a group of people of colour created a sense of connectedness and common ground.

During the workshop, we called in our ancestors using writing and story-telling, and used the yarn we weaved as a metaphor for recognizing patterns, history and process of reclaiming our story. For me, the circular action of weaving created a sense that I will always be connected to my history and ancestors, even if the journey of discovering my story is not an easy one. At times the process will feel uncomfortable, frustrating, and will defy my expectations. But ultimately, my threads connect to those who came before me, and will connect to who comes after me.

Workshops are generously provided in collaboration with Vallum Magazine, one of Canada’s top poetry journals encouraging dialogue between Quebec and the rest of Canada through the exchange of ideas and writing with acclaimed and emerging artists in Canada and internationally. 

For more information on our Unravelling in Rhymes series, please feel free to contact us at

SAWCC’s statement on Bill 21

Below is the South Asian Women’s Community Centre’s statement on the Quebec bill, Bill 21. This statement will also be permanently published on our Mission and History page, under Statements.

(english follows)


Le Centre communautaire des femmes sud-asiatiques se déclare contre le projet de loi 21 du Québec, la Loi sur
la laïcité de l’État, et demande au gouvernement québécois de le retirer. Loin de favoriser la neutralité, la laïcité
et l’égalité entre les sexes comme il l’affirme, ce projet de loi est discriminatoire et source de divisions. Il vise
injustement les musulmanes qui portent le hijab et impose leur exclusion du marché du travail. Le plus
préoccupant est que cette interdiction proposée s’applique aux enseignantes du secteur public, secteur où l’on
retrouve une plus grande représentation de femmes de minorités visibles, incluant les musulmanes portant le
hijab. Au lieu d’enlever le pouvoir à ces femmes, l’État devrait se concentrer à instaurer l’égalité de l’accès à
l’emploi des femmes vulnérables d’origines diverses. Si le gouvernement veut réellement promouvoir la laïcité,
la neutralité et l’égalité des sexes, il devrait plutôt s’attacher à éliminer le racisme systématique des
établissements publics. En outre, dans un contexte où l’islamophobie ne fait qu’augmenter et de plus en plus
d’attaques contre les musulmans et autres minorités surviennent, le projet de loi ne fera qu’aggraver les attitudes
d’exclusion et de racisme qui marquent l’altérité des minorités religieuses. Un État véritablement laïc et neutre
devrait promouvoir les valeurs constitutionnelles de respect des droits des minorités, d’égalité des citoyens et
d’acceptation de la différence au lieu de créer des divisions sociales.


The South Asian Women’s Community Centre expresses its opposition to Quebec’s Bill 21, An Act Respecting
the Laicity of the Stateand calls on the Quebec government to withdraw this Bill. The Bill is discriminatory and
divisive and does not further either state neutrality, secularism or equality between genders as it claims. The Bill
unfairly targets Muslim women who wear the Hijab and mandates their exclusion from the workforce. What is
particularly concerning about this proposed prohibition is the fact that it applies to teachers in the public sector,
a sector in which there is a greater representation of visible minority women including Muslim women who
wear the Hijab. Rather than disempowering such women the State should focus on creating equal access for
vulnerable women from a diversity of backgrounds in the workforce. If the government truly wants to
demonstrate its secularism, neutrality and commitment to gender equality it should focus instead on eliminating
systemic racism in public institutions. Further, in a context of rising Islamophobia and racist attacks against
Muslims and other minorities, the Bill will only serve to further a racist, exclusionary agenda based on othering
religious minorities. True secularism and neutrality of the state should further constitutional values of respect
for minority rights, equal citizenship and the acceptance of difference, rather than create social divisions.

SAWCC is Going for Sugar Shacking

We are pleased to take our service users for an experience of sugar shacking to Auberge Handfield on the 5th of April. SAWCC would be paying for the transport but each participant would be paying for their meal which is $22 / adult and $14 / child. Seats are limited so please contact Juvaria (514-528-8812) soon if you wish to join the fun.


SAWCC & Musee des Beaux-Arts of Montreal

SAWCC has been invited to visit the Museum of Fine Arts (Montreal) for free when we come as a group. We have been also given many free family passes for our centre users to enjoy a free visit to the Museum. Please contact Juvaria at 514-528-8812/ 104 for getting the pass for you and your family or to go for a group visit with SAWCC team.

Congratulations Astha!

We would like to forward our sincere congratulations to Astha Agarwal for being accepted into the PHD program at University of California Berkeley for School Psychology! Astha has been a member of the South Asian Youth Collective since 2015, and has remained active in our projects and causes.

I have had the opportunity to see Astha complete her undergrad degree, master’s and more recently the application process for the PhD programs at prestigious universities in the United States. I cannot be more proud for such a strong woman of colour to take up space in these institutions, and continue to create social impact in her communities. I have no doubt the incredible work she will do through working with children and youth, and look forward to more milestones by such a powerful woman!

– Harleen xoxo

Cards made by our participants

We de-stressed, chatted and listened to music while we let our creative juices flow yesterday. And the results are all beautiful and unique creations that we will all cherish. Thank you our brave participants for coming out of your homes and for making these colorful cards on a grey day. Love you all!

Thank you Mela Sarkar!

Mela delivered us her traditional box of home made cookies yesterday. It was a pleasure to see and eat the lovely treats. We thank you Mela for remembering your SAWCC sisters each year and bringing us the gift of your labour and love.

Unravelling in Rhymes kicks off for 2019!

After being on hiatus for over a year, we successfully re-launched our Unravelling in Rhymes poetry and creative writing workshop series on January 26th! 

A group of 14 participants gathered at The Open Centre to partake in an afternoon of writing and sharing , while being open to vulnerability and fostering courage in sharing and writing about our truths. 

We had the absolutely pleasure and honour of inviting Moe Clark as our guest poet facilitator for the afternoon. Moe is a Métis multidisciplinary artist and a nomadic songbird with wings woven from circle singing and spoken word. Originally from Treaty 7, she’s called tio’tia:ke (Montreal) home for over a decade. Moe fuses together vocal improvisation with multilingual lyricism to create meaning that is rooted in personal legacy and ancestral memory. Apart from performance, she facilitates creative workshops in various contexts; she produces festivals and performances; and she mentors emerging artists. 

Moe Clark also loves the looping pedal, and so our first Unravelling in Rhymes workshop involved creating soundscapes and recording spoken poetry as a group. We also spent time free-writing in response to reflections on natural elements of our earth, land and climate. 

We are grateful for such a lovely afternoon of warmth, tea and fruits, sunshine, and writing our truths and vulnerabilities in a shared space of love and creativity. 

Stay tuned for the next workshop in April, 2019! Workshops are part of the Youth Program and South Asian Collective initiatives, and take place once every season, and are open to women, non-binary, gender-fluid, 2 Spirit and gender non-conforming  people of colour between the ages 17 and 30 years old. 

Workshops are generously provided in collaboration with Vallum Magazine, one of Canada’s top poetry journals encouraging dialogue between Quebec and the rest of Canada through the exchange of ideas and writing with acclaimed and emerging artists in Canada and internationally. 

Full Moon Fling photos at Mont Tremblant