At the start of the year, the New Canadians Centre through the Peterborough Immigration Partnership along with Madderhouse Textile Studios and Watson & Lou facilitated the Creative Entrepreneurship for Newcomer Women project – a unique entrepreneurial training experience for newcomer women who have a love of sewing and textiles. The project provided training and opportunities to 10 newcomer women, concluding in mid-March. Following the completion of the project, we asked the participants where they would like to go next. The consensus was to keep going as a group; to continue working together because “with a team it’s easier to do something good”, said participant Fabiola Contreras Carrasco.
Shortly thereafter, COVID-19 lockdowns began in Peterborough, forcing us to work from home. This presented an opportunity for the women to come together and sew masks for donation to Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) and later for sale to the general public via Watson & Lou in partnership with Madderhouse Textile Studios. As the uniquely-designed and sewn masks went on sale, requests began to pour in for custom orders.
With the women’s goal of working together as a group, the Newcomer Sewing Crew was established under the umbrella of Madderhouse Textile Studios to meet the demands of masks orders. In addition to regular production of masks for sale via Watson & Lou to the general public, the group has now also produced and delivered masks to PARN – Your Community Aids Resource Network and to Fleming College.
“When I first heard that the Newcomer Sewing Crew were making masks, I was thrilled for them and the community. I know some of the women who were part of the original group and I loved watching them grow in their skills, not just in sewing but in English, integration to Peterborough, business development and working as a team” says Charles Shamess, Executive Director of PARN. “This pandemic has shown how we truly need to work together to get through as safely as possible and PARN is very proud to support newcomer women in their integration to our community while keeping our staff and clients safe. What a great way to promote solidarity and harm reduction and a healthy community.”
The face masks at Fleming College are being distributed to Fleming students, faculty and staff as they return to campus for summer bootcamps beginning July 13, 2020. The face masks are Fleming College branded, designed by Fleming’s Marketing team, printed at Madderhouse Textile Studios and constructed by hand by the Newcomer Sewing Crew. The Crew created 300 masks available in three different colours, in either elastic or tie style. Fleming branded masks are now also available for sale to the general public, with proceeds from the sales going towards the COVID-19 Student Fund.
Established in 2008, the Peterborough Immigration Partnership (PIP) is a community-based partnership of individuals & organisations (including the NCC) which envisions a community where the meaningful economic, social and cultural integration of newcomers ensures a prosperous and inclusive community for all.
Please contact us for more information and to become involved in this partnership.