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The Refugee Centre in Montreal, Jude

Jude from The Refugee Centre in Montreal

In May 2022, mindyourmind partnered with The Refugee Centre in Montreal to organize our first in-person Design Lab since the pandemic. To learn more about the centre and its work, we interviewed Jude, the Wellness and Art Therapy coordinator.

What is The Refugee Centre in Montreal?

The Refugee Centre (TRC) is a non-profit organization that works towards providing a sustainable form of integration for refugees and newcomers in the community. As a group of students and professionals, we work with the community to help strengthen the refugee & immigrant population through unity and integration. Founded in December 2015, we embarked on a journey to re-establish the way non-profits work and strengthen the communities they are involved with. We believe that modern day obstacles and problems need modern day solutions, thus the creation of TRC. Currently, TRC offers a variety of services including legal aid, academic aid, language classes, orientation services, health and wellness support, and social activities and programmings. 

How did you get involved with The Refugee Centre?

I joined The Refugee Centre in 2020 as a mental health coordinator. My role focuses on the planning and facilitation of a variety of wellness services, events, and trainings at the centre. I also utilize my art therapy practice to facilitate a variety of art-based programs such as group art therapy workshops and art hive studio sessions at TRC to present alternative modalities of care. Throughout the past two years, the wellness and health department grew to support a larger number of community members and newcomers as they navigate the cumulative obstacles they face throughout their resettlement process.

Are there any exciting projects/programs/events you’ve been involved in with the Centre that you’d like to share?

We planned a variety of exciting and useful services and events this year throughout all our departments. Throughout my role, it was truly exciting to see the continuous growth of both the individual focused services and community based programs. I saw a great value in the different activities, such as the monthly cooking workshops, the art therapy groups for newcomer mothers, the Collective Art Festival, and so much more. I also witnessed a great strength in collaborating with a variety of organizations such as mindyourmind, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Sun Youth, and a number of other organizations, to present new potentials for community building!

Your role at the Centre is around wellness. How does the Centre incorporate mental health into its programming?

Migration can pose a big source of emotional, physical, and mental stress on newcomers as they navigate the resettlement process. As they face many changes in various sectors of their life, it was important, in our centre, to translate our awareness of newcomers’ experiences and become responsive through the services we offer. The centre, thus, incorporates a focus on mental health in a variety of ways, primarily by providing individual wellness support appointments, art therapy groups, activity based programs, and direct referrals to mental health and health practitioners. Mental health focused trainings are also provided to our service providers to ensure we serve our newcomer clients through a trauma- and culturally-informed lens and that we embody responsive and affirmative forms of care.

What programs are available to youth who are interested in joining the Centre?

Many of our services, including language classes, conversation circles, cooking workshops, and art programming are open to all youth. We also facilitate different events that open the opportunity for volunteering and engagement with the community. The Refugee Centre also presents different internship and employment opportunities!

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Photo by Jude