Petites-Mains director general receives Meritorious Service Cross

Nahid Aboumansour’s organization backs up the vulnerable

Avleen K Mokha

Co-founder and director general Nahid Aboumansour. Photo: Petites-Mains

Petites-Mains is a non-profit organization that helps immigrant women find jobs. On July 1, co-founder and director general Nahid Aboumansour received the Meritorious Service Cross (civil division). The award recognizes Canadians for their contributions in various fields, from advocacy to health services, research and humanitarian assistance.

Aboumansour received the award for developing an organization which improves the living conditions of immigrant women and the unemployed in the Montreal area. This distinction was awarded on July 1 by Her Excellency Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada.

On July 1, Canada Governor General Julie Payette awarded the Meritorious Service cross to Petites-Mains director general Nahid Aboumansour.

Previously, the province of Quebec has also honored Aboumansour’s work. In 2017, she received the rank of Knight of the National Order of Quebec.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has called on its women-led staff to produce masks and gowns. The organization has also been serving food to the homeless since the emergency began.

“Our mission to contribute to the well-being of vulnerable people has never been more important than during the time of this pandemic,” Aboumansour said.

Sewing away

So far, the organization has made than 12,000 reusable non-medical masks for healthcare workers and the general public. Moreover, employees have also sewn 3,000 gowns.

Trainee at Petites-Mains sewing a reusable face covering. Photo: Petites-Mains

This contribution comes from a group of just 15 women, who have worked under COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“Since April 13, we have partially relaunched our sewing workshop to meet the needs for personal protective equipment,” Aboumansour said.

The equipment prepared so far has been donated to the staff and children of the Sainte-Justine hospital.

Gradual relaunch of programs for immigrant woman

Petites-Mains aims to help immigrant women to learn a trade and integrate into the job market.

Since its inception in 1995, Petites-Mains has helped thousands of women from over 100 different countries integrate into Canadian society. As Quebec reopens, the organization is gradually relaunching the following programs:

  1. ENTERING INDUSTRIAL COUTURE: a training program in industrial sewing, adapted to the needs of the market and immigrant women.
  2. WOMEN AND CRAFTS: The Women and Trades program supports 30 young immigrant women between the ages of 16 and 30 for a period of approximately six months. Information sessions, workshops, exploratory internships give them a better idea of ​​the Quebec job market.
  3. LANGUAGE INTEGRATION PROGRAM: Petites-Mains, in collaboration with the Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities, supports students in the “francization” process through a series of part-time French classes.

Crucially, training is free for women who receive welfare or unemployment benefits are eligible.

Meal service continues

The organization has maintained its meal catering services. For several weeks, Petites-Mains has been collaborating with the City of Montreal to prepare and give meals and hot drinks to the homeless.

To date, the organization has distributed 20,000 dishes and served 270,000 hot drinks.

Support for vulnerable families             

The organization offered 125 food baskets to families that were isolating, thanks to a donation by the Francoeur Foundation. Each basket included enough food to last families the two-week quarantine period.

A version of this story appears in the print issue of Parc-Extension News, published on July 10. Click here to read the full issue.