Our Stories

The Annual Community Bazaar

The Annual Community Bazaar is an initiative with the goal of strengthening the confidence of women who are contemplating starting their own small businesses. They are residents of the GTA and most likely attend one or more of the AWO programs. Most are supported through our employment projects and get training and updates on a primary business/project plan, marketing their goods, networking with other exhibitors or merchants, and developing strategies to support the growth and sustainability of their business.

Women usually get in touch with AWO employment counsellors to develop their small business plan, advance their products and get connected to government resources to familiarize themselves to actively engage in moving forward with their business interests.

Often, the women are given opportunities to participate in workshops to sharpen their skills and be ready to optimize their presentation and sales. The bazaars take place once or twice a year.


Community Connections

Markets Unlimited

The “Markets Unlimited” project was one of AWO’s annual Bazaars series and aimed to increase the economic opportunities for women in Cooksville, especially those engaged in or wishing to start a small-scale business. The project provided women with skills training; access to community markets to sell clothing, crafts, and food; and an opportunity to explore the creation of a cooperative.

Recently, the women also were provided with occasions to participate in workshops on “How to Make Greetings Cards”.  Many of the over 300 cards the women made were sold at the bazaar. Those interested in finding a job in the food industry participated in the “Food Handling Training” to improve their employability chances. The next level of training for these women were meant to be formal “Culinary Arts Training”.

Before this project started, these women had rarely been given the chance to participate in bazaars or markets. Most of them were stay-at-home mothers who were busy with ongoing household chores.  All women participating in the project gained self-confidence and explored a path to financial independence because of the skills they gained from the training sessions. They met new friends from the community whom they continue to socialize with. Many of the women indicated that their self-esteem improved greatly as they were given hands-on training to plan and implement events and oversee the execution of their projects. They learned how to make sound decisions to address challenges and issues on the way.

The Holiday Market/Bazaar on Tuesday, December 15, 2015, held at Studio 89 at 1065 Canadian Pl #104, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm through the AWO project “Markets Unlimited” was made possible by the funding support from the Community Foundation of Mississauga.

This experience was truly a successful initiative for our agency and a great experience for the participating newcomer women. They continued with organizing 4 more Bazaars that remained popular in the broader community. The project also provided continued business support and additional skills training.

A manual on How to Start a Community Bazaar was developed to help newcomer women plan and organize bazaars successfully.

AWO Manual for Organizing Bazaar

Wellness CaféWoman - Healthy Living

The Wellness Café project was one of our successful initiatives in working with grassroots communities. In this project, we trained a team of peer leaders to raise awareness about mental health issues in newcomer communities to reduce their stigma. Our trained peer leaders organized their Wellness Cafés around town, in various ethnocultural communities’ natural hang-out places. In these Wellness Cafés, the peer leaders facilitated lively conversations about wellness, mental health, self-compassion, and ways to increase compassion and support networks among community members for those who suffer from mental health challenges. As a result of these Cafes, the Wellness Café initiative got embedded in community activities and continued in numerous neighbourhoods.

The initial funding for the Wellness Café was received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Ontario Trillium Foundation


Syrian Refugees and AWO

Report: How Are We Doing Report?

Syrian Refugees, Sponsoring Groups, and Service Providers.

Reimagining Life on the Canadian Canvas: Digital Stories

As part of Canada 150 celebrations, the AWO, with generous funding from the Government of Canada, created a series of digital stories highlighting the lives and experiences of people who have come to Canada as refugees. The storytellers were asked what they felt Canada has given to them and what they have given to Canada. The resulting stories illuminate the diversity of experiences and challenges this group of Canadians have faced and the possibilities for love, growth, and happiness in a new country.

We invite you to view the stories for yourself. To watch the All play version of the stories, click To watch the All play version of the stories, click here. To watch individual stories, click To watch individual stories, click here..

If you would like the storytellers to be part of your event, please contact us at: awo.storytellers@gmail.com.

These digital stories were produced by StoryCentre Canada

Funded by the Government of Canada. Financé par le gouvernement du Canada.

Government of Canada