The Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) Community Connections program hosted its seventh annual Ladies’ Night on March 8, bringing together 200 immigrant and refugee women from dozens of countries to celebrate International Women’s Day.
The event began seven years ago in response to a query by local newcomer women who noticed a lack of International Women’s Day events in the community.
“In my country, International Women’s Day is a big event. Many people speak out and protest for equal rights for women,” said Jacqueline Luna, the 2019 event organizer and an immigrant from El Salvador.
Out of comments like these, and the desire to celebrate the diversity of women in Abbotsford, Ladies’ Night was born.
Attendees enjoyed an art exhibition, a display of stories featuring both famous and local women from around the world, food, speeches and cultural performances.
Speakers included Shanga Karim. She and her husband fled Kurdistan in northern Iraq four years ago due to her work as a journalist advocating against honour killings and female genital mutilation.
Adut Deng, a newcomer from South Sudan, and Azizah Lotfi, who came from Syria two years ago, also shared their powerful and encouraging stories.
The event also featured piano music, a poetry reading, a photo booth, and bhangra, ballet, Chinese and Iranian dance.
Once again, Ladies’ Night received significant support from the community. The space was donated by Central Heights Church, and 30 volunteers, including those from the Central Heights Women’s Centre, provided additional help.