Invitation to participate in our activity calendar making

Although our need analysis activity is scheduled for the 22nd of Jan. 2019, we wish to give a chance to all our participants and users to participate in this activity; whether they can be present on the 22nd or not!

Below is a list of some topics that might be interest to you. You can select a few or suggest some that you would wish us to organize at SAWCC as part of our Tuesday activity or Potluck activity. Please send your selections to Juvaria Yasser at or talk to her 514-528-8812/104

W.Sh Needs analysis, jan 2019


Happy 2019 to all our readers

We are open and ready to serve you every week day from 9-5, dear readers and SAWCC users. The French & English classes have started at the centre this week and people are getting services as they drop-in or come with appointments. Our regular Tuesday info sessions start on the 22nd of January this year. We are looking forward to see you on our potluck on the 31st of this month.

A new year’s message from Harleen

The end or beginning of a new year is a great time for a reflection. Often this reflection involves new resolutions or re-evaluating goals, whether short-term or long-term. I myself love to take this opportunity to decide to try something new that is outside my comfort zone.

I often do these activities with my high school girls as well, whether it’s a fun little activity about resolutions or setting some goals for the new year. But this year I decided to take another approach. I’ve been reflecting a lot about how we view the new year and why there is such a focus on making resolutions, and I wonder if we’re getting caught up in this constant self-improvement or productivity cycle, or trying to fit an ideal and changing that ideal constantly so it’s never “me”.

As someone who has struggled with mental health, chronic pain and chronic illness all my life, some years it was absolutely just plain triggering to think about goals or resolutions.

So just for a change, I did an activity with my girls last week where I asked them to list three things about themselves that they are grateful for or three things that they are proud that they accomplished this year, or a combination of these.

Although my girls understood the concept and got their pens ready, it took a really long time for any girls to write anything down. A few girls started writing after a few minutes, but the majority of girls really struggled to write even one single thing down. When I asked them about their hesitations they said that it was really difficult, and they just needed more time to think. Or that there’s just too much negative self-talk that they really couldn’t think of anything. One girl said “honestly I have never thought about things this way”.

My challenge for you is to reflect on this idea of constant self-improvement and maybe take some time to be grateful for yourself and for everything that you’re able to do every single day. To be proud of your body, for everything that it has gone through this year. For making it here.

I am so glad I did this activity with my girls. We ended by sharing the sentiment that we are all proud of each other for making it until the end of 2018, and that we will be there for each other collectively for the challenges next year.

I forward the same sentiments to you. 

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Diwali celebrations chez nous today!

 Playing for a gift 

Our diwali Kolam of this year

Though Diwali was celebrated on Nov. 7th this year, Diwali feels like today because of the festive mood at SAWCC. There is music, women and children, food and decorations. The children have their own games and fun. And of course the winners of the games go home with a gift. What a day!

Stories of Courage and Survival

On Saturday, October 27th, a group of people of colour gathered at our centre to share with each other stories of power, resistance and courage during different moments/periods in history. Participants brought with them a profile of a woman, or a story, poem or and/or photograph with them to share with the group. In the presence of others, and of course with chai and sweets, the afternoon was a lovely, intimate gathering to discuss stories of courageous women in history.

The event served the purpose we were hoping it would serve; to bring to light those stories of power that are often hidden (due to colonialism and erasure of queer POC history). It was also empowering to hear about defiance and resistance on behalf of women who were up against such powerful regimes, systems, and oppressions. As much as no one person has any burden to serve as a source of empowerment for an entire group of people, reading these profiles definitely gave us a sense of courage and power in our own actions. The feeling that we are not alone in this harsh political climate, and that there are generations of people that have come before us to advance the causes of social justice. The courage and hope that we can and will continue fighting for them. For us. And for the future. 

A huge thank you to everyone who came and shared space in such a beautiful way. 

– Harleen

Below are a few of the profiles that were shared during our event. These summaries were written by some of the participants, and are very brief. Therefore we encourage you to further read into the history of these chosen profiles:

Asma Jahangir (1952-2018)

Asma Jahangir was a Pakistani human rights lawyer and activist who founded the Women Action Forum, a free legal aid center and co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. She was a force of resistance and one of the very few people who stood up against the most powerful dictators and bureaucrats of the country to fight for justice. When the military dictator, Zia-ul-Haq, introduced discriminatory laws against women and minorities in 1980s, Jahangir publically challenged his agenda and opposed his rule and laws. She fought for democracy throughout her life. She was an advocate for women rights and a voice for marginalized communities and minorities. She was jailed, attacked and abused throughout her life yet she continued to raise her voice and defended human rights.

Begum Rokeya (1880-1932)

Rokeya Khatun. commonly known as Begum Rokeya, was a Bengali social activist, writer, and Muslim feminist during the time of British rule over the Indian subcontinent. She wrote many novels, poems, short stories and essays that advocated for gender equality between men and women.  She was a firm believer in the right and impacts of education for young girls and women. She set up her own school for girls in Calcutta despite harsh criticism, and went from house to house to persuade parents of the benefits of sending their girls to her school. She even arranged for horse-drawn carriages to pick up and drop off the girls from their home. She ran the school until her death in 1932. Begum Rokeya’s writings called upon women to protest against injustices and break the social barriers that discriminated against them. One of her works is called Sultana’s Dream, where the gender roles are completely reversed in order to show the unjust treatment under gender inequality.  

Anna Mae Aquash (1945-1975) 

Anna Mae Aquash was born in 1945 in a small village in Nova Scotia. She was an activist for Indigenous rights. She faced racism in early life, especially during the period when she attended school of her reserve. Through this harsh treatment, she continued to value her traditions and history, and began to partake in learning about the Micmac traditions. She volunteered for the Boston Indian Council, helping urban Indigenous people deal with addictions and unemployment. By the early 1970s, Anna Mae was a follower of the American Indian Movement (AIM), a protest group asserting Indigenous rights in the United States. Aquash participated in AIM’s Trail of Broken Treaties march on Washington DC, which culminated in AIM’s occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs building. In 1973 she joined the occupation of the village of Wounded Knee, a historical symbol for Indigenous Peoples as the site of the massacre of the Sioux by the US Cavalry in 1890. On February 24th, 1976, she was murdered and her body was discovered in South Dakota.

Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992)

Marsha P. Johnson was an Black trans woman who was an activist, drag queen, sex worker, and advocate for trans and queer people of colour. Johnson was a key figure during the Stonewall Uprising in 1969. Following the events at Stonewall, Johnson joined the Gay Liberation Front with friend Sylvia Rivera, with a mission to to improve the material conditions for LGBTQ citizens. In June of 1970, the first of the GLF marches took place in New York City. These marches, ones that Rivera and Johnson had hands in organizing, would develop exponentially and become what we now call “Pride”. That same year, Johnson and Rivera formed the Street Transvestite (now Transgender) Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a community organization that provided services to homeless LGBTQ youth. Johnson also became an outspoken activist with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) and protested on Wall Street against the inaccessibility of new HIV/AIDS medication.

Rani of Jhansi (1828-1848)

Lakshmibai, or Rani of Jhansi (Queen of Jhansi) was the queen of the Indian state of Jhansi in North India and was a key leading figure of Indian Rebellion against British rule. Since childhood she studied and showed interest in horseback riding, fencing and shooting. In 1842 she was married to the King of Jhansi, and in 1853 she and the King adopted a boy. One day later, the king died, but not before issuing a letter that Jhansi should go to his widow upon his death, until his adopted son can take the throne. Although this letter was given in the presence of British officials, the British were keen on claiming the territory of Jhanshi under their rule, and therefore did not accept the terms of the letter. However, they did allow Lakshmibai to continue to control Jhansi until they can arrange to take over the rule. During this time, Lakshmibai assembled a small army, but support was difficult to gain among the people. She fought against the British troops in a “Do or Die” battle for freedom. Lakshmibai wanted independance. However, she lost control over her fort against the better trained and equipped British troops. Lakshmibai, after further strengthening her army, then went on to conquer fort of Gwalior, even against the tremendous strength of the enemies.  A few days later the British army attacked again and Lakshmibai had to flee. She had her adopted son tied to her back, a sword in each hand and the reins of the horse in her mouth. Lakshmibai suffered fatal wounds, but she still managed to ride her horse to a secluded place. Upon her escape, she handed her son to a trusted general and shortly died. The British general who had been sent to battle against her army described her as “the most dangerous of all the rebel leaders”.