New Canadian Women Graduate From Pilot Program

A pilot program funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has graduated its' first class in the Windsor area.

14 women from a range of countries around the world spent eights weeks at Women's Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor or WEST, learning about Canadian culture and the workforce.

Madavi Peri came from India and is starting a placement at EnWin.

"When we came we had a lot of inhibitions, a lot of fears, a lot of uncomfortable zones actually," says Peri. "But now when you really know a Canadian and the Canadian environment, the people here are really warm."

The Visible Minority Newcomer Women Pilot offers an eight week in-class program and five-week work placement along with other training programs such as in skilled trades.

Windsor was one of ten communities in Canada and only one in three communities in Ontario to receive funding for the program.

Bibi Sharifa came to Canada from Afghanistan. She speaks seven languages and says the program made a huge difference to her.

"I'm like a different person. I can do what I want and with the confidence and a lot of happiness. I'm really happy," she says.

Lindiwe Sithole works at WEST and says she walked a the same path as the women who are graduating.

"I can relate with so many of the things these women have had to go through," says Sithole. "To see them being resilient, being strong and believing in not only in themselves, but the power of coming together as a community."

The federal government funded the first intake for $100,000 and has set aside another $200,000 for the next two classes.

WEST is also hosting its annual womens day gala Friday at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts. 

A number of awards will be handed out but officials are avoiding comment about a decision to retract an award for Windsor police Chief Al Frederick.