In its 30 years of operation, the Centre has remained the only immigrant-serving agency in Edmonton with a mandate to focus on the needs of immigrant women of all ethnic backgrounds. The Centre has grown from merely a meeting place for immigrant women to share their joys and sorrows, into a place where help is given, research projects are conducted and new solutions sought for relevant issues.
The Centre is operated mainly by immigrant women for immigrant women and their families. The services offered by Changing Together include English as a Second Language (ESL) classes of various levels; Basic and Intermediate Computer Courses; a Volunteer Support Program, which gives immigrant women Canadian work experience; settlement employment counselling; family support services, which include helping with family violence “cases”, information about and referrals to social, health and legal services; a seniors’ program; a pre-employment orientation program and community development activities that bring women of common interest together to develop strategies, prevention and solutions. The Centre has conducted researchers on issues relevant to immigrant women such as “Live-in Caregivers in Alberta”, “Single Immigrant Mothers”, “Modern Foreign Brides” and “Impacting Volunteerism on Immigrant Women and the Private Sector”. Current research includes “Trafficking Women and Girls to Canada”.
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While diversity has benefited the Canadian economy and enriched our culture, the challenges of racial discrimination remain systemic, serving only to aggravate and entrench inequality. Despite the changing nature of our society, there has not been an effective response to address discrimination within our public and private institutions. Research indicates that visible minorities face difficulties in accessing social, cultural, and economic opportunities. The average wages of visible minorities were 14.5 percent lower than those of other Canadians.
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The Centre, together with a highly qualified and committed Board of Directors, has developed an in-depth understanding of issues facing immigrant women and their families. The Centre has successfully educated and will continue to educate mainstream Canadians about immigrants. Changing Together has gone further with provision of services to facilitate changes of government policies that inhibit or prohibit optimum participation of immigrant women and their families in Canadian life; understanding of and appreciation for the diverse cultures represented by immigrant women and decreased community tolerance for family violence, especially violence aimed at women and children.