Immigrant men wanted for the second cohort of Men-relays

Immigrant men wanted for the second cohort of Men-relays

The participants of the first cohort of the Men-relays program of the Carrefour de ressources en interculturel (CRIC) in Montreal have concluded their training. From left to right: Youssouf Fofana, Adrian Martinez, Ahmed Z I Hammouda, Pierre Wilu Wilu and Navid Mahmoodi (trainer). CRIC is currently recruiting men to form the second cohort of the program which will begin in February.

The Carrefour de ressources en interculturel à Montréal (CRIC) wishes to recruit the second cohort of its Men-relay program, created following the example of the Women-relay flagship project. This training program aims to promote the professional, social and family integration of immigrants into Quebec society and to equip them so that they can in turn become helpful resources for their peers.

The women's component has contributed for more than a decade to the socio-professional integration of a dozen women each year. The CRIC set in motion the male component of the project, intended for immigrant men who speak French and at least one other language, last September.

This program allows relay men to familiarize themselves with the citizen involvement and develop skills in helping relationships. If necessary, they are also supported in developing a personal action plan for returning to school, work or any other entrepreneurial or volunteer project.

“We wanted to integrate the male component for several years, but it is difficult to recruit men in the community, and especially immigrants. We are aiming to welcome 8 to 10 men for the second cohort which would begin in February”, explains Veronica Islas, Executive Director of CRIC.

Men are less inclined to ask for help, especially in some cultures. It’s therefore important that participants can identify with it, that immigrant men can support and inspire others.

Veronica Islas, Executive Director of the Carrefour de ressources en interculturel

The four-month, part-time program consists of training and an unpaid social internship during which participants accompany , in their mother tongue, of newly arrived individuals and families.

At the end of their course, participants receive a certificate from the Center for Educational and Pedagogical Resources (CREP) and a certificate from the CRIC recognizing them as Community Liaison Agents.

Getting the tools to help

“This training is in line with my convictions and the work I do”, says Youssouf Fofana, imam at the Tawuba mosque, located in the Centre-Sud district, in Montreal.

Mr. Fofana is happy to have been able to acquire tools to better direct refugees and families in his community to the resources they need.

Men immigrants wanted for the second cohort of Relay Men

Imam Youssouf Fofana. Photo credit: Intercultural Resource Hub

“Sometimes we forget [what we experienced] when we arrived here. The training allowed me to go back and put my feet in the shoes of newcomers to know how to better support them,” says the 55-year-old Guinean, who has been living in Quebec for more than two decades. He is able to offer support in French, Arabic, English, Malinké and Soussou.

Diversify your knowledge

The three-part training is offered in partnership with the Center de services scolaire de Montréal and several community organizations. It allows participants to acquire knowledge related to intercultural communication, the functioning of Quebec's school and health systems, labor standards and community and public resources, among others.

“I gained more self-confidence through the training. I feel more seasoned in helping other immigrants understand the workings of Quebec society and integrate into it,” says Pierre Wilu Wilu, a 74-year-old grandfather from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who chose to take training at the CRIC so that you can put your experience at the service of other immigrants.

Immigrant men wanted for the second cohort of Men-relay

Pierre Wilu Wilu. Photo credit: Intercultural Resource Hub

“The training helped me learn about resources that allow me to help people who need to know how to enroll their children in school, find a food bank, or look for a job or housing,” continues Mr. Wilu. Wilu, who particularly appreciates the knowledge acquired in connection with the levels of government, personal development, the power to act, sexual minorities, women's rights and the supervision of young people.

Actively involved in his community and his parish since his arrival in Montreal four years ago, the Congolese relay man is able to offer support in French, Lingala, Swahili and Kikongo.

< strong>Giving back during retirement

“I wanted to occupy some of my time without necessarily having to engage in full-time volunteering, because I still teach a few courses and I like to save time for other activities,” says Adrian Martinez, retired piano teacher from the Vincent-d'Indy School of Music.

“[The training] is very interesting even if you have lived in Montreal for a long time, because you do not know all the organizations. We can't solve all people's problems, but we are able to direct them to those who can help them,” says Mr. Martinez, established in Quebec since 2003.

Men immigrants wanted for the second cohort of Relay Men

Adrian Martinez. Photo credit: Crossroads of intercultural resources

The 63-year-old Argentinian took the training to be able to occasionally help other people in his mother tongue, Spanish. He is delighted to have been able to help, during his internship, immigrants who needed an interpreter.

“I accompanied a woman who needed to speak with her child's teacher and a man who had to take steps to get his driver's license,” he says proudly.

The CRIC is organizing an information session on the Homme-relais program on January 18, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at 2240, rue Fullum, in order to recruit immigrant men wishing to participate in the next cohort starting in February. It is possible to register by writing to

This text was produced as part of the Local Journalism Initiative.< /p>

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