Creating career opportunities for newcomer women

3 MIN READ

Sewing for jobs

What first began as a support group for women, quickly became a safe haven to gather and create. After a generous donation of sewing machines was given to the group to assist with the costume design for an upcoming play, the participants turned the opportunity into something that would have a far greater impact on their lives and the lives of those around them.  

As the women worked together to sew the costumes, each stitch created a sense of community and instilled confidence in them. On top of that, they were talking about real issues that were directly affecting their day-to-day lives.  

“Our vision was to build a world in which dignity and the unique gifts of each person are valued and promoted—a community whose members stand with one another in justice and hope.”

– Lucile Champagne, EcoEquitable Founder

Many across our region face barriers that don’t allow them to participate in the economic, social, cultural, and political spheres of their communities. When people are not met with acceptance and recognition, it can result in a lack of access to resources and materials that are essential to their wellbeing.

A 2018 United Way ‘Poverty to Possibility’ Award Winner—EcoEquitable runs programs like Sewing for Jobs, an innovative sewing training program created to be a bridge to financial autonomy for newcomers and vulnerable people.

Participants in the Sewing for Jobs program learn hand stitching, introduction to the sewing machine, various sewing techniques, understanding basic sewing patterns and basic cutting skills.

“EcoEquitable is a place for creatives to develop their craft and find inspiration while connecting within their community.”

– Vanessa Arkaifie, EcoEquitable Volunteer

““Sewing for Jobs is really the heart of EcoEquitable.” ”

– Anouk Bertner, EcoEquitable Executive Director

While following a curriculum that prioritizes and promotes skill-building through small projects, participants also learn time-management, community building, and language skills.  

After completing the 15-week Sewing for Jobs: Beginner’s level, all participants who would like to keep expanding their sewing skills are able to choose between two different paths according to their needs or plans. 

  • Garment Construction: a focus on professional garment construction and finishing techniques is built into the curriculum to ensure employment readiness. Participants are also introduced to home business fundamentals including client relations, expectations, and pricing.  
  •  Building Up Alteration skills: participants learn how to perform the most common alterations and repairs by using expert techniques and tips taught by one of Eco-Equitable’s most experienced instructors. They are also introduced to alternation industry requirements, including customer service, expectations, and pricing. Graduates can use these skills to offer private alterations or work for an employer. 

 Not only do these classes set community members up for success in the labour market, but they become a part of a welcoming environment that brings people together.  

Growing together

Anouk Bertner, Eco-Equitable Executive Director

Across our region, there continues to be major barriers to inclusion in the workforce for newcomers, people with disabilities, and youth, including stigma, misinformed perceptions and biased or outdated assumptions.  

United Way East Ontario strives to build communities that are accessible, inclusive and financially equitable for everyone. This means that every person has access to employment, a solid understanding of how to be financially secure, and an opportunity to become financially independent. 

With our commitment to impact, our role as community convener, and our involvement with other funders and planners in this area, United Way East Ontario leverages our network of partners and donors to help our communities come together to create real solutions that will work for our region. 

“United Way has been instrumental in supporting EcoEquitable over the last decade as a funder, a promoter of our work and a cheerleader to our staff and community.”

– Anouk Bertner, EcoEquitable Executive Director

                                                                             Help break down barriers to employment 


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