Immigrant Women Services Ottawa - ‘The Most Important Thing’



Immigrant Women Services Ottawa (IWSO) is one of Ontario's leaders from the immigrant and refugee-serving sector in advocating for and working towards equity and justice for immigrant, refugee and racialized women. To that end, IWSO is working with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) World Refugee Day - marked by the UN on June 20 each year - photo project, `The Most Important Thing`, to help bring awareness to the impact war has on families.

Imagine if your family had just one minute to flee…What would you take? A pet? A favourite toy? Or just memories? What will you take with you if you had just one minute to flee? While you think about what you want to take, millions of refugees around the world do not have the same choice. As they flee from war, famine, hunger and poverty, what do you think they take with them? Do they have a minute, an hour, or a month to decide what to take? One thing we do know is that all refugees take their dream with them – a dream of a better life where the children are safe, healthy, have access to clean water, food, and books and a place they can finally call home.

The core theme of World Refugee Day 2013 is the impact of war on family, and the key message is "1 family torn apart by war is too many". As part of this global campaign, `The Most Important Thing` is a photo project that seeks to tell stories of families forced to flee as a result of war by focusing on what they took, and how they survived. It also strives to compel the public to think about what they would do if they had to make this decision. Images resulting from this project will be uploaded to Pinterest and shared on other social media networks to generate a public debate.

IWSO and UNHCR encourage service providers working with refugees to take part in this project and share their amazing stories.

Founded in 1988 to meet the needs of immigrant and visible minority women who were victims of domestic abuse, IWSO was originally named Immigrant and Visible Minority Women Against Abuse (IVMWAA). IWSO started with providing integrated crisis support and language interpretation services in Spanish, Arabic and English. Since then, the organization expanded representation in the community and began providing a wide range of services to support the settlement and integration of women and their families. Services now include settlement and integration, services for children who witness violence, and a pool of trained language interpreters who can assist community workers' to work with newcomers to Ottawa.

For more details visit or contact Luciana Nechita at