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Myrna

Thanks to donors like you, women like Myrna are speaking up for a safer, more secure future for newcomers and refugees. 

Finding her voice

Myrna is a woman who loves her work. As a Spanish interpreter with Interpreter Services Toronto, she helps women with limited English navigate difficult situations, including immigration and criminal law issues, and custody battles.

It’s a passion she wouldn’t trade for anything. “My satisfaction comes from helping,” she says. “And my desire to help comes from a very personal place.” 
That’s because, years ago, Myrna found herself in a shelter and experienced first-hand what it’s like to need support. 

Myrna, who is originally from Mexico, came to Canada looking for a fresh start in a safe place after witnessing a sharp increase in crime and corruption. But she soon found herself in the middle of an equally dangerous environment in her new home. After experiencing an abusive situation, Myrna, along with her sister and niece, was forced to flee to a United Way–supported shelter. “I always cry when I talk about this,” she says. “I didn’t deserve to end up there. But I learned a lot.”  In the shelter, things turned around quickly. Myrna, who studied law before moving to Toronto, learned about a unique social enterprise supported by generous donors like you. Interpreter Services Toronto provides refugee and newcomer women who face barriers to employment with the skills they need to become professional interpreters. The enterprise, run by the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, also provides translation services in places like courts and shelters.

“The shelter staff said, ‘You are very good with women. Do you want to help?’” Myrna recalls. “They gave me a sense of purpose.”

Today, Myrna teaches newcomer women to navigate the barriers she herself once faced, with empathy and understanding gained from her own experiences. She says the best reward is seeing these women make huge leaps forward in their own lives and embrace opportunities to become leaders in their community. “You can see the results when they finish, and then they become active, engaged citizens,” she says. “I’m proud to be a part of inspiring others and paying forward all the support I received. It’s like a chain.”