Beyond Ourselves

Meet Valeri Garcia, Beyond Ourselves Project Coordinator

Valeri Garcia is a recent Bachelor of Commerce graduate from the University of Alberta.  She arrived from Venezuela in 2005 and was impressed by the many cultures co-existing in Canada. She has been involved in the multicultural community nationally as part of the Canadian Council for Refugees Youth Network and locally as a youth leader at the Multicultural Health Brokers Coop organizing events for newcomer youth in the city for the past 3 years. She was a participant in the Beyond Ourselves program in its beginnings and is now honored to be working to see the program through to the end. 

Beyond Ourselves Working Group

Status of Women Canada

Beyond Ourselves aims to given girls and young women from ethnocultural communities the space, skills and opportunities to be leaders. Our hope is to enable them to participate more fully in social, political and community life.

What is Leadership?

We define Leadership as the ability to look at your situation, identify a problem, figure out what to do about it, and work with others to try and change the situation. Leadership doesn’t always equal authority or command, but is the ability to inspire and collaborate with people to work towards a shared vision.

How do we build leadership?

  • By organizing activities for girls and young women from specific ethnocultural communities
  • By holding intercultural events that bring girls together to get to know and learn from each other
  • By offering resources to groups of girls and young women to organize projects that address community or social issues, building leadership in the process

Why a leadership program for girls and young women?

There are few formal and informal opportunities for girls and young women to develop the skills to succeed in leadership roles. There are also more barriers to prevent us from getting involved – language barriers, lack of training, poverty, working multiple jobs or going to school, lack of childcare, and sexism within mainstream society and community social structures.  All of this means that women hold fewer leadership positions, and don’t get as much access to the experiences we need to build those skills.

However, for immigrant communities and society as a whole to be healthier and more equitable, women and girls MUST be at the forefront of change. Women and girls have a deep understanding of the inequalities faced by immigrant communities and families, and we often have strong networks of support that allow us to get together to solve problems and work for change.

Contact: Valeri Garcia, Project Coordinator | Email:

On August 29, 2013, Beyond Ourselves was profiled on the CBC Radio show Radioactive, as part of a weekly summer series on Edmonton's diversity.  Listen to Youth Leaders Sunita Chapagain and Ubah Mohamoud and Project Coordinator Aliya Jamal talk about the project.

The link to the interview is

Beyond Ourselves: Girls and Young Women project launched

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Edmonton Multicultural Coalition has launched a two-year program to empower girls and young women from ethnocultural communities integrate fully in all aspects of life in the City of Edmonton. Dubbed “Beyond Ourselves”, the two-year project is a partnership between the government of Canada and Edmonton Multicultural Coalition.

The project was launched on February 9th 2013 at the Grant MacEwan University by Hon. Laurie Hawn, MP for Edmonton Center who represented the guest of honor, Hon. Rona Ambrose, federal minister for Public Works and Government Services. Mrs. Lynn Mandel (wife of City of Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel) and Multicultural Coalition president, Rossyln Zulla graced the occasion. “This project will help many girls overcome barriers of culture, language or gender inequality to fully take part in the socio-economic development of Edmonton,” said Mrs. Dianna Mbari-Fondo, the Executive Director of Edmonton Multicultural Coalition.

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