CIWA CEO Presented with Making a Difference for Women Award

Last night Beba Svigir, CEO of the Calgary Immigrant Women's Association (CIWA) was presented Soroptimist International's Making a Difference for Women Award. The award honours women who, through their professional or personal efforts, are making extraordinary differences in the lives of women or girls. Their work has had a significant impact, and also inspires and encourages other women.

It was about 23 years ago when Beba fled her home of the former Yugoslavia, with her husband and two sons, due to conflict and war.  Beba knows first hand that first generation immigrants often pay a high price due to the fact that many arrive in a new country having left everything behind and with limited resources in tow. This presents a great challenge, as they strive to fully integrate and achieve financial independence. Beba has been quoted as saying that during those hardships she measured the quality of her immigration experience by being able to take her children out of harms way and to find a safe home where they can grow and develop into positive human beings that will contribute to society.

Beba has worked as the CEO of CIWA for more than a decade now, has nearly 40 years of experience working in both the non-profit and business sectors in three different countries, and has an extensive background in settlement and integration for newcomers.  Over the years, Beba and her team at CIWA have added many new programs and services, expanding the agency exponentially to the level of expertise, innovation and skills necessary to support thousands of immigrant women and their children every year. Her passion for gender equality and empowering immigrant women to reach their goals and dreams is evident in the work that CIWA does on a daily basis to advocate for the appreciation of skills and assets immigrant families bring to this country, and the overall benefit of immigration both towards nation building as well as labour market needs in Canada. Beba is a strong advocate for collaborative, community based approaches to service delivery for newcomers.

In the end, if one was to strip away the moniker of CEO or immigrant or even Calgarian, what one is
left with when looking at Beba Svigir's lifetime of achievement is the manifestation of a leader, a visionary, a mentor, a trail blazer, a community builder and perhaps above all else, a true Canadian. All of us here at CFN send our heartfelt congratulations to Beba who could not be more deserving of such recognition and we look forward to continue working with and along side her in helping making Calgary the best city it can be.