A group of women of color in Toronto’s inner city have been welcoming their new neighbourhood.
The first community they’ve been able to call home in almost a year has opened its doors.
The women, who arrived on foot from the United States and are part of the Indigenous Women’s Community, said they have not been treated well in Toronto.
“They don’t know where we are,” said Shaina Bautista.
“They haven’t been able find out who we are.
They don’t have access to basic services like they would a lot of other indigenous people in Toronto,” she said.”
It’s very hard for them to be accepted.”
Bautista said she and other women from the community came to Canada for economic reasons.
They’ve lived in Toronto for three years and came to call it home.
“We want to be part of something that we can be proud of and not just a footnote in history,” she told CBC Toronto.
“When we are here, we can say that we are part to the larger community and that is what we are going to be doing.”
Bemisa Gagai, one of the first women of Colour to settle in the community, said it was difficult for the women to be welcomed when they first arrived.
“Our people are not accepted, we are not welcomed here,” said Bemisa.
“I am a bit upset that we haven’t heard from you.
We haven’t had the chance to meet you, you haven’t even heard from us,” said another woman.”
What can you expect from the government?
They don`t listen to us,” another said.
The women said they were shocked when they found out the city had rejected their application to build a community on land owned by the Ontario government.
“To me it’s a huge slap in the face to us, especially as the Indigenous people of Toronto, to say we are being denied the opportunity to get a new community here,” Bemis said.
“It makes us feel like we don’t belong here.”
The Indigenous Women`s Community in Toronto said it has had its own struggles before, but the first time it was rejected, Bautisa said it felt “heartbroken.”
“The government is not listening to us.
We don’t deserve that.
We are not asking for anything that is not what we want.
We want what we deserve,” Bautis said, adding that she’s looking for a new home.
A recent city survey found that one-third of the community had experienced discrimination.
Bautisa and her friends said the first year was a difficult one.
“The people in charge of our city didn’t listen to what we were saying and what we thought.
They were like, ‘We know who you are, you are an Indigenous woman, you know that your rights are being violated,'” she said, referring to the decision to reject the community application.
Many of the women said the city should do more to address discrimination.
“In the beginning we were scared, because there were people that didn’t want to listen to anything we had to say,” said the Indigenous women.
“But we have to have faith in the people who have to protect us, and if we don`T trust them, we don�t trust the world, and we can’t trust ourselves.”