The text below is the transcript of Anahita Aminian’s speech at the “Immigrant Women Festival” which was held on March 15th, 2008 in Winnipeg.
Khosh Aamadeed! Welcome!
Ladies, gentlemen, and our dearly beloved children, my name is Anahita Aminian. I have lived in Manitoba with my husband since 1986 and we have a 17-year-old son. As an immigrant woman in my early twenties, I arrived in Canada with 2 suitcases and tremendous hope and fear about my future. The strongest motivation to continue was the freedom that Canada offered and I truly appreciate every opportunity to exercise my free choice as a woman.
I began my journey in my adopted home thanks to hard work and the support of many wonderful mentors I have had along the way. Thanks to Canada and all the opportunities it has provided me, I have managed a fulfilling career and relative financial comfort and happy family life.
I am one of the lucky ones who have been able to achieve these goals in life.
As a wife, I have been able to work alongside my husband and enjoy the same opportunities and rights as my husband.
As a mother, I have been able to raise my son in a safe environment.
As a daughter, I have been able to sponsor my parents to immigrate to Canada and support them.
As an immigrant woman, I have been able to become an early childhood educator by completing my formal training at Red River College and the University of Winnipeg.
As a member of this society, I have been able to have full-time employment, provide essential service to society, and contribute to the economy of this wonderful and very cold province!
And finally, as a Canadian citizen, I have been able to enjoy traveling to other countries with respect and dignity.
I am truly grateful for what I have been able to achieve in my life, and I will always be a proud Canadian with my Iranian accent!
However, as an Iranian immigrant, I have witnessed obstacles faced by immigrant women on a daily basis and I am taking this opportunity to share them with you.
Immigrants or refugees leave their native land for different reasons: be it economic, political, religious persecution, social uncertainty, any combination of them or other reasons. But, as immigrants, we all share one common goal: to achieve happiness and prosperity in our new home. We try hard to be a part of our new society and to conform socially in order to be accepted.
Undoubtedly, it is one of the hardest tasks anyone has to encounter. Immigrant women struggle for survival in their homeland and within Canada as well — though in a different manner. Below is a number of basic rights that non-immigrant women may take for granted while it is and remains a day-to-day struggle that immigrant women endure.
- Lack of knowledge of human rights — specifically women’s rights in Canada
- Lack of support from husbands
- Lack of childcare during the evenings and on the weekends
- Lack of support for dealing with culture shock
- Lack of Canadian experience in order to find satisfying employment
- Lack of cultural awareness in the workplace
- Lack of educational opportunities due to cultural beliefs and practices
- Hidden domestic violence and fear of divorce or separation (as divorce and separation and typically considered taboo and a disgrace)
- And finally, the high-stress levels capable of causing physical and emotional side effects
Although the federal and provincial governments have developed many programs for immigrant women, it fails to work effectively because it is crucial for immigrant women to receive all the necessary information in their own native language. For example, Iranian women who immigrate to Manitoba should be entitled to an orientation in Farsi upon their arrival and to have translated brochures.
In order to help hew Iranian women feel welcome, empowered, and safe, I recommend to invite and to involve successful Iranian women to work as mentors and assist the newcomers and ease their exposure and adaption to the Canadian way of life.
Even though my story is a happy one, we must never forget that there are many sad stories about immigrant women in Canada. I am not a politician, and I know there is always a demand for financial aid to different organizations. However, as Canadians, we must remember that by helping immigrant women, we are nurturing independent individuals that can help by contributing to our local economy and leading to a successful future for all of us.
Moteshakeram! Thank you!
— Anahita Aminian