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Supporting Community and Engaging in Tough Conversations

Asian Women of Winnipeg, a non-profit organization which supports and celebrates Asian women within the Manitoban city, is encouraging individuals to engage in difficult conversations – conversations around loss and grief. 

Sharran Tappia, AWOW’s acting president and one of the organization’s founders, is no stranger to the pains of loss, with her father passing away a few years back. Sometimes, she catches herself, feeling he hasn’t passed on. “Sometimes I forget, and I try to phone him.”

But Tappia is one of many to have experienced loss in the past few years. Many families have been left grieving, losing relatives and even children. These emotions she and others have felt allow them to connect with others going through turbulent times, empathize, and build a supportive and growing community. 

In response to the community’s pain, AWOW will hold several sessions with experts, professionals, and individuals who have experienced the loss of a loved one to help provide tools and support for those going through difficult times. 

“We’ll have some moms who have been through that kind of pain. It’s time to learn from each other. It’s a difficult conversation, it’s a difficult topic, but it’s an important one. It’s important because we’re still alive, and there are other family members. Life is a blessing.”

She adds that preparing and motivating individuals helps them to grow and develop positive changes in their lives. When they do that, they can inspire and encourage others. This is the bedrock of Asian Women of Winnipeg: to uplift and support women during times of hardship and celebrate in times of triumph. 

“When we started,” says Tappia, “I didn’t realize, at that time, how far we would go with this. We wanted to give a platform to women. We started by celebrating Mother’s Day, and we just wanted to get the ladies out who are serving just their families: homemakers, new immigrant women, and grandmothers who didn’t have an excuse to get out of the house.”

For Tappia, it has been a fantastic journey seeing how the organization has grown. From one celebration to a wide array of events and workshops, AWOW now provides, and it all comes down to women supporting women. 

The success and growth AWOW has seen over the years reflect the dedication of the passionate women on the advisory board, board of directors, youth board members, and others working behind the scenes. Women such as Anjana Kumar, Divya Sharma, Nupur Kumari, and Zahra Sepehri take their vast array of skills and life experiences to create something utterly unique and special. 

“When people saw the passion of doing all these things, people kept joining and staying,” says Tappia. ” That’s how we’ve grown, and we have such a big board now. We have so many members, and we’re now in the process of making some committees for women who want to serve and come up with ideas of what we should be doing.”

Tappia and other board members extend an invitation to all to get involved. She explains that everyone, regardless of their backgrounds, experiences, or occupations, has something they can bring to the table for their community. 

What’s next for AWOW is to invite experts in various areas to advise community members and open new dialogue and conversations. 

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

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