1,2,3 GO! Saint-Michel / Femmes-Relais

April 2012

The “femmes-relais” are immigrant women serving as community outreach workers. They wear a number of hats—guide, liaison officer, interpreter—in their undertaking to facilitate the integration of new immigrant women and their families in the Saint-Michel district.

The Femmes-Relais project was initiated in 2001 to strengthen the potential of a highly vulnerable group. Each woman outreach worker participates in the project for a period of ten months, offering a friendly ear, wise counsel and coaching to immigrant families who are striving to find their bearings in Quebec society and gradually take charge of their lives. She is normally paired with new immigrant women who share a number of her cultural traits in order to facilitate the development of a relationship of trust.

The coaching provided by the woman outreach workers helps immigrant families to, for example, discover the resources at their disposal, communicate with their children’s teacher and enroll in French-language courses—in short, to break out of their isolation and go get the essential tools for successful integration.

But the benefits of the Femmes-Relais project don’t stop there. While helping others to become self-sufficient, the women outreach workers improve their own self-sufficiency also.

Although they have been established here for some time, the women outreach workers are not yet familiar with all the ins and outs of Quebec society—they still have a lot to learn. During their ten-month term, they take the opportunity to create a network of contacts while acquiring concrete work experience in Quebec. In the end, they provide a springboard to an active and fulfilling life in Quebec for themselves as well.

Centraide has supported Femmes-Relais since 2010.