Sewing program helps newcomers to Canada and furniture manufacturer EQ3

WATCH: Winnipeg's The Cutting Edge provides specialized sewing skills training, English lessons and other skills to newcomers, giving them tools to enter the Canadian workforce.

A creative partnership in Winnipeg has helped bridge the gap between newcomers to Canada and an employer looking for highly specialized workers.

Canadian manufacturer EQ3 has been working closely with The Cutting Edge to keep its manufacturing in Canada and in turn creating employment opportunities for women making a new home for themselves.

“If you know there’s people you can help and you’re in a position to do so I think I feel it’s a responsibility,” said Eduardo Morales the director of manufacturing for EQ3.

Last year the company was struggling so hard to find skilled labour to fill its sewing needs, EQ3, a Canadian-based company started to consider going overseas to find workers.  That’s when the company connected with the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute (CMWI) in Winnipeg.

The CMWI had a sewing program for many years. It was recently revived and rebranded as The Cutting Edge.


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During the six week training program, The Cutting Edge provides specialized sewing skills training, as well as English lessons and other skills needed to enter the Canadian workforce.

“People can improve their skill, but also they can validate the skills that they have but also tap into a network of employers that are looking for sewing machine operators,” said Anne-Lydie Bolay, operations director and sewing instructor for The Cutting Edge.

Potential candidates with no prior sewing experience are assessed for hand dexterity as well as the ability to listen and understand direction in English.

“Everybody that’s in the program wants to be empowered, they want to work. When they achieve that goal they are super happy there’s lots of smiles,” said Bolay.

Talat Aziz moved to Canada from Pakistan and say the program was a great opportunity.

“I have already done the six week program so I’m just good to go to work.”


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Jasmin Eckstein, EQ3’s Cut & Sew production engineering coordinator works closely with The Cutting Edge. She worked with Bolay to develop a curriculum that would reflect the skilled needs at EQ3. She’s excited to see the successful outcome of the partnership.

“They’re learning how to cut fabrics how to join pieces and all the different operations that are needed for upholstery sewing.”

Marie Catherine Lemoto-Ounda recalls helping her grandmother sew when she was young. She’s completed the training program at The Cutting Edge as is looking forward to finding a job.

“I feel really, really happy because if you don’t work, you don’t have money to educate your kid,” said Lemoto-Ounda.

On top of the skills they’ve learned to become employment ready in Canada, the women walk away with extra confidence and a community of support.

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