Help address food security needs  

With the help of Field Law Community Fund Program, CIWA is addressing the food security needs among immigrant women and families who are struggling to purchase their basic needs supplies due job loss or having to flee abusive situations. At the same time, our clients from Line Cook and Food Services training programs will gain hands-on experience as they prepare nutritious food to help ensure that no one goes hungry. 

Help CIWA provide this service by voting for Food and Employment Security for Immigrant Women and Their Families. It’s only two clicks away: click here.

In line with the recent Government of Alberta's announcement of new restrictions and guidelines, CIWA has moved all in-person classes, workshops, and one-on-one services to virtual delivery. As of September 20th, all sessions currently held outdoors will remain in-person while maintaining physical distancing. 

If you have concerns or have not received an update from your CIWA contact, please reach out to them directly or call (403) 263-4414.

As we continue to closely monitor government measures and guidelines around COVID-19, we will keep doing our best to meet public health orders while ensuring that we meet the mental health and wellbeing needs of immigrant women, girls and their families.  

Please don't hesitate to reach out to CIWA if you need support through this stressful and uncertain time. If you need immediate help, please call Distress Centre's 24-Hour Crisis Line at (403) 2633-4357.

CIWA is here to support you and your family.

CIWA Annual Casino Fundraiser Flyer

Visit us at CIWA for in-person services from Monday to Friday, between 9 am and 4:30 pm with evening hours until 8:00 pm on Wednesdays. We now welcome both drop-in and scheduled appointments!

For more information, contact your counsellor today! You can also connect with a CIWA representative at (403) 263-4414 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We look forward to see you!

Do you already have an appointment? Please complete the COVID screening questionnaireclick here.


Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association has partnered with the City of Chestermere to offer multi-lingual in-person and virtual counselling services to Chestermere residents. This new partnership will help facilitate the delivery of counselling services to Chestermere residents in their first language as part of the Well-Being, Equity, and Resiliency Counselling Services Project.

To obtain a referral for Counselling Services through the CIWA partnership, Chestermere residents can call the Family and Community Resource Centre at (403) 207-7079 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Community members can also connect with CIWA directly by submitting a referral form to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visiting

"“In April, the City’s Human Services Advisory Board issued a call for proposals to service providers to deliver counselling services in multiple languages,” says Chestermere Human Services Advisory Board Chair Scot Caithness. “We are very excited to have selected CIWA to partner with us in offering this service to our ethnically, religiously and culturally diverse community.”

Click here to learn more.

CIWA has collaborated with the University of Calgary in conjunction with the Parkland Institute to give immigrant women, particularly racialized women, working as health-care aides a voice.

'More Than Just a Health Care Aide: Immigrant Women Speak About the COVID-19 Crisis in Long-Term Care' is a report produced after listening to the stories of 25 Calgary immigrant women working on the front lines of COVID-19. The report includes 12 policy recommendations for health-care aides in the future.

"Long-term care (LTC) facilities have emerged as the single most critical setting for the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic across Canada. In the first two waves of the pandemic, LTC institutions accounted for nearly three-quarters of COVID-19 deaths in Alberta, with facilities in Calgary disproportionately affected... Within Calgary’s LTC workforce, immigrant and racialized women, in particular, are overrepresented. These workers are especially vulnerable due to the front-line nature of their employment, as well as their gender, citizenship status, race and/or class." 

Click here to read the full report.

On June 22nd, CIWA hosted its 39th Annual General Meeting via Zoom with over 160 attendees. The AGM acknowledged how CIWA embraced the challenges of the past year. Our clients, volunteers, and staff have all shown tremendous resilience, enthusiasm, and commitment this past year despite formidable challenges. 

The Annual Report highlights how CIWA as an organization, community partner and collective of individuals continued to reinvent its approaches and build forward. In the past year, clients, volunteers, and staff exhibited an extraordinary level of resiliency and ability to adjust to the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic. Challenges did not deter CIWA from delivering services and meeting outcomes while forging ahead and navigating these unprecedented times.

Click here to view CIWA's 2020-2021 Annual Report.

CIWA is looking forward to re-opening for in-person services on Monday, June 14th. We welcome all clients by appointment only from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday, with evening hours until 8 PM every Wednesday.

Book an appointment with your counsellor today, or connect with a CIWA representative at (403) 263-4414 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

CIWA staff are happy to serve and support you! We look forward to see you.

Do you already have an appointment? Please complete the COVID screening questionnaireclick here.

The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated restrictions on in-person childcare services. When restrictions eased, significant barriers remained, so 5 agencies across the Prairie provinces developed and piloted remote delivery models on early learning and care for newcomer children. One hundred and thirty children from 21 different countries of origin participated, as summarized in this report and infographic. 

View the resources here: 

pdfCOVID-19-Inspired Innovations in“COVID-19-Inspired” Innovations in Early Learning and Care for Newcomer Children: A Rapid Evaluation

pdfRemote Early Learning & Care for Newcomer Children: Evaluation March 2021

The Board of Directors (Board) of Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA) are seeking proposals from qualified consultants to work with the Board and Senior Management to develop the Strategic Plan for the organization for the period 2022 to 2027.

Gerda R. Bloemraad came to Canada from the Netherlands in 1975. A lawyer by profession, she went through typical integration challenges faced by a majority of newcomers to Canada. Along with improving her language proficiency and adjusting to cultural differences she had to go back to school before she could practice law in Canada. Shortly after her retirement, Gerda joined the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association in 2007, where she served as the President and Board Chair until early 2013. Gerda’s passion for the wellbeing of immigrant women in Calgary inspired her philanthropic engagement through this scholarship. She remains active and involved in the community and a huge supporter of CIWA and its clients.

Help immigrant women, girls, and their families impacted by COVID-19

CIWA provides much needed assistance to newcomers to Canada, to help them settle and integrate into their new country. Many of them are low income families who require support and assistance and are consequently severely impacted by COVID-19.

On March 8th, International Women's Day, consider supporting CIWA's mission to engage and integrate all women and their families in the community. Your donation will go towards supporting the well-being and empowerment of immigrant women and girls and their families during a time of pandemic.

You generosity will:

Help senior women remain connected during pandemic:

Your $25 donation can help provide a month-long internet connection to allow a vulnerable immigrant senior to reduce isolation and access virtual services in the community.

Help mothers pursue their careers in the Canadian workforce:

Your $50 donation CIWA can help a young mother pursuing a career access childcare

Support women impacted by gender-based violence:

Your $75 donation will allow us to provide immediate shelter for an immigrant woman and her children fleeing from domestic violence during the pandemic

Support young female leaders in their education and career path:

Your $100 donation will support the education of our young female leader who is aspiring a career in STEM

Click here to donate to CIWA


Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA) will be hosting two virtual community engagement sessions to kick start Canada’s National Action Plan initiative to End Gender-Based Violence. Through this initiative, CIWA will be able to seek your valuable learnings and provide a collective input into this action plan on behalf of the communities we represent, serve and work alongside. We would like to invite you to join us at either of the following two community engagement sessions: 

  • Feb 22 from 9:30am to 11:30 am
  • Feb 24, 2021 from 9:30am to 11:30 am

Please bring your organizational learnings to inform this process. Looking forward to see you. 

Click here to register

pdfDownload the fllyer

Did you know that marginalized communities experience disproportionate rates of gender-based violence? Join our roundtable discussion on 5 pillars around:

  • Supporting survivors and their families
  • Prevention
  • Promotion of responsive legal and justice systems
  • Supporting indigenous-led approaches and informed responses
  • Social infrastructure and enabling environment

For more information, contact Ayodeji Adetimehin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (403) 263-4414 Ext. 177.

pdfDownload the discussion questions

Funded by: YWCA Canada


Celestina Akinkunmi holds an MSc in Public Policy and Management from the University of London and currently works as the Settlement and Integration Manager at the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association.  She has over 8 years’ experience in the nonprofit sector and her work speaks to community engagement and development related to Canada’s diversified newcomer population.

Celestina manages a large portfolio with 13 ongoing programs and several short term (2 year) projects at CIWA. She recently finished the Health Literacy Partnership Project and is currently working on The Pursuit of Happiness for Immigrant Senior Retirees project.

Celestina regularly shares her work with multiple audiences including students, government officials and community members. She is a humanitarian at heart and her passion and determination to help people is what informs her work in the non-profit sector.  She holds her Christian faith very dearly and enjoys spending time with her 3 children and husband. She enjoys reading and has a passion for cooking and decorating.


00:44 Introduction
02:33 Rationale for CIWA Health Literacy Partnership Project
05:01 Partners involved in the project
07:21 Challenges faced in the project
12:35 The importance of groundwork to the project
14:02 How this resource can be used in the classroom
15:41 Using “My Health Passport”, “My Language Card” and “Next Steps Notepad” 
18:16 “What Happens” health videos in multiple languages 
21:25 Plans to add more languages 
23:34 Where you can find the resource 
25:05 Feedback on the project
27:30 Why do you do what you do?
30:04 Thank you and outro 

Daughters Day Awards

Daughters Day Awards celebrates the lives, contributions, and achievements of all daughters based on an appreciation of gender equity in our society.

Do you know a girl/young woman who:

  • Is 12-29 years old
  • Lives in Calgary at the time of nomination  

We want to hear from you!

Complete and submit a nomination until January 15, 2021. Presentations will take place as part of CIWA’s Youth Forum on February 11, 2021. Award recipients will receive $500!

docClick here to download the application form and for more information

Canada’s Most Powerful CEOs, Presented by KPMG
Beba was one of the three Canadian Female CEOs recongnized as the compelling force behind their organizations

Beba Svigir webpage
B.E.d Chief Executive Officer

BIO: Beba Svigir has led the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association since 2006. She has a background in language and international development education, program/fund development, diversity and governance. Beba is committed to enhancing the lives of newcomers through a two-way street model, where participants play equal roles in promoting the benefits of immigration. She shares her passion for gender equality and equity through engagements in national and provincial initiatives, research projects and policy development.

ON MOTIVATION: Making a positive difference for immigrant women we serve and contributing to the community.
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: That immigrant women today have better opportunities than I had when I came to Canada.
POWER SONG: “Born this Way” by Lady Gaga.

Read more:

Giving Tuesday 2020

On GivingTuesday, consider donating to CIWA

Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association provides much needed assistance to newcomers to Canada, to help them settle and integrate into their new country. Many of them are low income families who require support and assistance and are consequently severely impacted by COVID-19, especially during the holiday season.

Consider supporting immigrant women and their families on Tuesday, December 1, 2020. Your GivingTuesday donation will go towards supporting the well-being of immigrant women and their children in Calgary during a time of pandemic.

Your generosity will:

  • Enrich a senior’s life: A $50 donation provides a month-long internet connection to allow a vulnerable immigrant senior reduce isolation and access virtual services in the community. 
  • Empower an immigrant woman: A $100 donation provides one night of accommodation for an immigrant woman and her children fleeing domestic violence as they wait for a room in an emergency shelter.
  • Integrate a family: A $200 donation provides a Canadian Christmas experience for a low income immigrant family of four by supplying a meal during the Christmas season.
  • Engage youth: A $500 donation provides ten low-income girls and the opportunity to participate in summer activities for integration, leadership, and socializing through CIWA Summer Camp.

Please click here to donate.

Do you want to share your voice and musical heritage with others? 

CIWA and Calgary Opera are partnering together to create a singing group for women who are interested in:

  • Sharing their cultural music heritage
  • Sharing their cultural music heritage
  • Learning about different musical cultures and styles
  • Developing their voice
  • Being a part of a small performance
  • Having fun with other women in a safe and supportive environment


Who can join?

  • Anyone age 16+ who loves music and singing
  • Anyone age 16+ who loves music and singing•Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 or higher recommended


Starting on Wednesday, November 11, the group will meet every Wednesday 5:00pm - 6:15pm over Zoom until it is safe to meet in person. Classes will run for six weeks and culminate in a small performance for family and friends.


To participate or for more information, please contact: Stephania Romaniuk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 403-262-7286 Ext.134

pdfClick here for more information.


Introducing the Everyday English for Seniors: a project dedicated to support immigrant seniors over 55 years of age, both male and female!

The project focuses on enhancing English oral and written skills that enable immigrant seniors to become more confident and actively participate in their integration process in Canada. For more information, please click here.

We thank all our funders, partners, staff and volunteers who have been part of our work. Your contributions to our capacity to create a positive change have made it possible for us to celebrate the impact we achieved.

We are pleased to present the Calgary Immigrant Women's Association 2019-2020 Annual Report. The theme of this year’s annual report, #CIWA, reflects the growing influence of technology and social media. This virtual community allows CIWA to not only empower immigrant women locally – within Calgary – but also empower immigrant women on a global scale. It highlights CIWA’s contributions, leadership and impact in the community through the effective collaboration and shared community values with funding organizations, community and corporate partners.

Click here to view CIWA's annual report. 

The Health Literacy Resources portal provides free videos to watch and resources to print. These tools help people access healthcare services by learning to navigate the healthcare system better, reducing the barriers to accessing services and improving health literacy outcomes.

Click here to access this free resource.

In partnership with Alberta Children’s Services, CIWA is coordinating a Family Resource Network for immigrant and new Canadian families living in the Calgary urban region. Through the network, immigrant and new Canadian families will have access to a continuum of prevention and early intervention services focused on supporting the wellbeing of immigrant children in our community. 

The Family Resource Network provides access to a range of services focused on increasing caregiver capacity, enhancing the development and wellbeing of immigrant children and promoting the social connections of immigrant and new Canadian families.

For more information, accessing and referral of services contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Easy Reading Business Development Tool for Women is an information portal. It is one of the ways to learn about business development in Calgary and Alberta, and is solely for the user's benefit. It is critical that you consider your own unique circumstances and use the business development options best suited to you.

Click here to access this free resource.

Award winners

Daughters Day Awards celebrates the lives, contributions, and achievements of all daughters based on an appreciation of gender equity in our society.

Do you know a girl/ young woman who:

  • Is 12-29 years old
  • Lives in Calgary at the time of nomination  

We want to hear from you!

Complete and submit a nomination by December 31, 2019. Presentations will take place as part of CIWA’s Youth Forum on February 13, 2020. Award recipients will receive $500!

Complete details and nomination forms are available here.

Financial Engagement for Immigrant Youth is a one year project funded by First Calgary Financial. The goal of the project is to enhance the financial literacy of immigrant girls. The project is a collaboration between CIWA’s Youth Program and Financial Empowerment for Immigrant Women program.

For more information, please contact: 

Fatima Narvaez, Family Services Manager

Telephone: 403-444-1759


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History of Family Violence Prevention Month

November Is Family Violence Prevention Month in Alberta. Family Violence Prevention Month started in 1986 as a local initiative in the town of Hinton where four remarkable Albertans, Katherine Kennedy, Sonja Bennett, Faye Wheeler and Glenda Carter, formed The Hinton Society for the Prevention of Family Violence and launched Alberta’s very first family violence education and prevention campaign. The Society’s goals were to draw public attention to the issue and to evoke positive change in their community. This led to expanding local supports and services for individuals and families in the areas of prevention, protection and rehabilitation. At a time when family violence was never talked about publicly, these courageous women inspired the Alberta Legislature to proclaim every November, Family Violence Prevention Month in Alberta. Today their legacy continues. Alberta government is committed to ending family violence. But, we can’t do this alone. It takes all of us working together to promote healthy relationships and safe communities in our province.

This year’s theme, #WhereToTurn, encourages you to learn what resources are available in your community to support those affected by family violence.

Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association stands up with Alberta communities and thousands of individuals who are actively involved in preventing family violence by providing public education and services through #WhereToTurn campaign led by Alberta government.  All Albertans - women and men, girls and boys – are showing their support by hosting a #GoPurpleAB event in their communities, at work or at school during the month of November.

Show your support! #GoPurpleAB in November! 

Innovative Approach to Supporting Early Learning of Immigrant Children

Project Description

The goal of the project is to support the early learning of immigrant children between the ages of 19 and 36 months through learning together activities.

Program Details

  • Hands on learning activities for both parents and children between 19-36 months
  • 20-week program that involves immigrant parents and children for 3 hours, 2 times a week
  • Parent workshops

Eligible Clients

The program is available to low income immigrant mothers with children between the ages of 19 and 36 months. 

Additional Program Information

The program:

  • Identifies the needs and challenges related to the early learning of immigrant children
  • Provides skill building workshops for parents
  • Supports and enables immigrant children meet the age appropriate developmental mile stones
  • Provides referrals to other CIWA programs to help participants access additional support services
  • Provides access to childcare for siblings between the ages of 6 months and 6 years
  • Provides first language support

For more information please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Funded by:

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Langauge Venture at CIWA 

Language Venture at CIWA offers certified interpretation and professional translation services to the community and businesses.

We have 199 CIWA graduates, of which 187 are CILISAT certificate holders who are available as freelancers to provide interpretation and translation services in 61 languages.

Read More

Office Administration Program for Immigrant Women

Program Description 

The program helps immigrant women gain the skills, information and experience needed to enter the Canadian workplace.

Project Description 

This full-time program offers certified training in Community Interpreting for CIWA volunteers.

On June 22, 2019 at the Westin Hotel in Calgary, Noha Elhakim was the proud recipient of the 2019 Arab Women of Excellence Awards - Community Services in North America. The award ceremony is the 1st initiative of its kind in North America to recognize, honor, award, and celebrate the achievements of 50 Arab Women in 10 different categories, namely: Art & Media, Academia, Research, Community Service, Politics & Government, Inspiration, Business & Entrepreneurs , Sports, Youth Achievements & Talents, and Motherhood. This award will inspire all Arab women across the world as well as Arab youth, but also, sends a clear strong international message about the abilities and capabilities of Arab Women.

Cecilia Awoyemi and Maria Ana Corazon Espiritu were awarded the 2019 University of Calgary Continuing Education Scholarship on June 12th.

Cecilia Awoyemi moved to Canada with her family in 2018. She is a professional administrator with 7+ years’ experience in providing administrative and customer service support including 4 years as an HR professional specializing in recruitment. Cecilia holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos Akoka, Nigeria, and a Master of Arts degree in HR Management from the De Montfort University Leicester, UK. She is a participant of the Bridge to Success for Professional Immigrant Women program and has secured an HR practicum placement with Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer LLP Law Firm. As part of her 5 year career plan, Cecilia would like to take the Human Resource Management Certificate at the University of Calgary.

Maria Ana Corazon Espiritu is a Filipino immigrant who arrived in Canada in June 2018. Prior to her arrival in Canada, Maria Ana graduated from the University of the Philippines with a Bachelor’s degree in Library and Information Science and worked as a college librarian at the University of the Philippines for five years. She recently finished the Labour Market Bridging for Volunteers: Interpretation and Translation program and is currently a certified Tagalog community interpreter for the Filipino community in Calgary. Maria Ana is an active volunteer in the community and a lifelong learner in her own right. Her personal and professional interest is focused on social services, family reunification and adult education.

Karma Youdon and Mary Althea Valenzuela were the recipients of this year’s Gerda R. Bloemraad Educational Scholarship. Gerda R. Bloemraad Educational Scholarship aims to provide monetary assistance to CIWA clients or volunteers who wish to further their education or commence a course at an accredited institution in a subject of their choice.

Originally from India, Karma Youdon arrived in Canada in February 2015. She joined CIWA as a mentee with the Youth Mentorship Program and continued on in a volunteer mentor capacity with multiple programs through CIWA’s Youth Collaborative. After graduating from high school in 2017, Karma has been working hard to save money for her college education as she is committed to pursuing her Social Work Diploma through Bow Valley College. The Gerda R. Bloemraad Scholarship will enable Karma to make her dream become reality by becoming a registered social worker while being an inspiration for her younger twin brothers. 

Currently a volunteer with CIWA’s Youth Mentorship Program, Mary Althea Valenzuela has at one point been a youth participant and mentee in the same program. As a newcomer from the Philippines, Mary dedicates herself to the pursuit of supporting the vulnerable and is fully committed to pursuing a career in social services. She is currently enrolled in Mount Royal University’s Bachelor of Arts program. Mary hopes to apply the Gerda R. Bloemraad Scholarship funds towards her education and getting her closer to achieving her dream of becoming a registered social worker.   

 On Saturday, June 15th, HIPPY ( Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) program celebrated the graduation for their 10th intake! 91 people attended the event at the Bow Valley Christian Church. HIPPY mothers and children were presented with certificates for their efforts and commitment to the program. 29 Age 5 children graduated the program and are on their way to a successful school career, while their parents now have the tools to continue to support their children’s education. Congratulations HIPPY participants!


On January 30, 2019, The City of Calgary announced $3 million funding for Mental Health and Addictions Programs.

For the third year in a row, CIWA partnered with The Shoe Project to provide immigrant women the opportunity to share their immigration stories. The Shoe Project was founded by Katherine Govier eight years ago in Toronto to provide a platform where immigrant and refugee women can share their stories of their arrival in Canada – through a pair of shoes.  The women are coached by Canadian writers and theatre professionals. As of today, The Shoe Project holds performances in Halifax, Toronto, Calgary, Canmore, and Vancouver. 

Youth Forum and Daughters Day Awards 2020

Daughters Day AwardFrom left to right: Alice Lam Daughters Day Jury Chair; Award Winner Charvi ShahAward Winner Eliana SamaraAward Winner May ElsayedAward Winner Ayah AldeebAward Sponsor and former CIWA Board Chair Gerda R. Bloemraad

On February 13, 2020, CIWA celebrated its eighth annual Youth Forum event in collaboration with The Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth at the Calgary Marlborough Community Association. This year’s event theme was “Confident Daughters, Dynamic Leaders.” Youth Forum provides a platform for Youth Mentorship Program participants to promote diversity and cross-cultural understanding and share their perspective on multiculturalism, tolerance and citizenship. During the event, four exceptional young daughters were presented with a 2020 Daughters Day Award. This award celebrates the lives, contributions and achievements of daughters based on an appreciation of gender equality in our society. Recipients were selected by a jury comprised of five CIWA Board Directors Shairoze Damji, Alice Lam, Elena Kim, Ranju Shergill and two CIWA Board Committee Volunteers Jade Duong and  Vanessa Ferlaino. The awards were generously sponsored by Gerda R. Bloemraad, former CIWA Board Chair and Shirley Turnbull, former CIWA Board Director. Youth Forum was attended by over seven hundred community members including children, youth and parents.


CIWA is pleased to announce a new project! Supporting the Economic Security of Unpaid Caregivers is a project that focuses on supporting immigrant women who are providing informal/unpaid care for a family member (child, spouse, aging parent or grandparent, etc.).

CIWA is pleased to announce a new project! Employment Security Alliance for Vulnerable Immigrant Women is a project that plans to increase the economic security of immigrant and refugee women who are fleeing domestic abuse.

Bridge to Success for Professional Immigrant Women

Program Description

Bridge to Success for Professional Immigrant Women is a full-time 24-week employment training program. This program helps women with educational and professional backgrounds in administration, sales, marketing, community and social services, and other related professions to attain professional experience in their field of expertise by helping to connect them to the labour market.

Fast Track Employment Training for Immigrant Women

Program Description

The program helps immigrant women gain the skills and knowledge needed to enter the Canadian workplace in various roles.

Food Service Training

Program Description

This program equips immigrant and refugee women with the tools and knowledge to work in the Food Service sector. 


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