Sandra, Queen's Square | May 1, 2017
If you've been on social media recently, you may have seen the launch of #IamWaterlooRegion from the Immigration Partnership Belong Steering Group.
#IamWaterlooRegion is a public education and awareness campaign showcasing the rich diversity of Waterloo Region. It celebrates and shares the stories of amazing newcomers who have chosen Waterloo Region to be their home and are making positive contributions to this community.
Meet the diverse faces of Waterloo Region including Rehana Ansari from Cambridge as featured in #IamWaterlooRegion.
I AM WATERLOO REGION: Rehana Ansari
Rehana Ansari has been building community in Cambridge since her arrival in Canada in 2000. Born in Bangalore, India, she travelled extensively, living in Pakistan and then Dubai for 35 years. Rehana is multilingual, speaking English, Arabic and Urdu. In Dubai she was the Vice Principal at an elementary school and taught English Literature to graduate students at Regional University Centres.
She came to Cambridge to join her son and his family. Having been an active community member all of her life, she thought the only way to meet others and for them to get to know her was to get out in the community. She says, “I gave up driving and started taking the bus everywhere. On the bus you can sit and have conversations with others, see the same faces at bus stops and get to know people.” In 2016, she finds Cambridge to be much more diverse and accepting: “It is the way you feel coming to a place. Do you come with inhibitions or not. Do you look at a person as a fellow traveller; a human being travelling the same way as you?”
Rehana is a community developer and connector. She volunteers with the YMCA’s Immigrant Services and Silverheights Public School facilitating groups for women who might be feeling isolated. Through the groups, women are encouraged to integrate into the community by getting involved, volunteering, going to school or connecting with work. Rehana wants women to see themselves as agents of change in their own lives and in Cambridge: “In the groups we collected knitted and crocheted hats and blankets for arriving Syrian Refugees. Now we are planning to collect books for children to be available to schools and child care centres. By participating in community projects, we see ourselves as part of the community.”
Rehana feels many things could lead to isolation including language and even the weather. She believes that being in the community to meet others and to connect them with services and support is an important role. “People, women, need to be invited to be part of something. I want to tell people that there is much opportunity here and you can be what you really want to be. That is the passion that gets me up in the morning. I know I will meet someone new and be part of their story.”