Immigrant Women's Advisory Committee Profile
Owning Our Stories. Wholeheartedly. Unapologetically.
Immigrant Women's Advisory Committee| Meet TINA BALACHANDRAN
Kwikwetlem First Nation, also known as the Coquitlam.
MEET TINA BALACHANDRAN
Tina is a storyteller, a facilitator, a settlement worker and a new immigrant. Her settlement journey includes a 15-year, long-distance, cross-cultural marriage, and two decades of a high profile television career. Not only did she have to contend with raising two pre-teen daughters on her own while bearing the pain of being continents away from her husband, and pivot her career after coming to Canada, but she wrestled with finding meaning and purpose in her work beyond just ‘survival’. "Coming to Canada wasn't a culture shock, it was an identity crisis." Tina struggled to find her fit being told she had to 'dumb-it down' or that she was 'intimidating.' "I didn't let that crush my spirit, it just fueled my fire." Now Tina is an advocate for other immigrant women to embrace their stories wholeheartedly and unapologetically. She is known for contributing her vulnerability and her positive energy into every project she works on.
WHAT IS THE GREATNESS THE LEARNING JOURNEYS PROJECT HAS HELPED YOU TO BEGIN TO UNPACK?
One of the harshest pieces of 'advice' Tina received through her settlement journey was that she needed to 'rewrite' her story. Tina had a 20 year media career she is proud of, before coming to Canada. To accomplish this she stepped out beyond the bounds of what was typical in her community. It took a lot, but she persevered. She doesn't want to 'rewrite' her story. That courage and perseverance are part of the story leading her to Canada. "Reinventing ourselves as immigrant women doesn't mean we have to rewrite our stories."
Through her work with Learning Journeys Tina rediscovered her belief in what she is capable of and the grounding to feel she can contribute based on who she is. "IWAC tribe not only embraced my true self, they created a space to celebrate and honour my authenticity." Learning Journeys creates safe spaces for immigrant women to reach their full potential while giving them opportunities to grow, shine and inspire. Tina has found an extension of who she is personally and professionally through her involvement. "IWAC for me has been a fulfilling and enriching experience; a passageway for new learnings and connections."
"Tina lifts us all up with her sparkle and love, and then, with her exquisite skills as a storyteller, facilitator and media producer, shines a light on our strengths and passion. She has helped us own our stories, and find a collective path towards change. She encourages us when we are weary and reminds us to celebrate every victory along the way. When we’re working with Tina, we are our best, brightest selves."
- Andrea Solnes, Learning Journeys Co-Lead
WHAT IS THE LEARNING - BOTH FOR YOU AND FOR ALL OF US - TO BE AWARE OF AT THIS TIME?
“Each journey is unique, bold and incredibly courageous. New comers bring with them their stories, their accomplishments, their skills and unshakable perseverance and resilience.” And despite how different we may appear, we are all connected. Tina wants immigrant women to know: You can contribute as who you are, with what you have today. "While writing the next chapter in your journey, you don't need to rewrite the ones that make you who you are." You don't need to reinvent the wheel to reinvent yourself.
“We may write the chapters differently yet all our stories are glorious and unique.”
WHERE DO YOU FEEL YOUR JOURNEY IS TAKING YOU NEXT AND WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE US TO KNOW ABOUT THAT?
Tina continues to seek opportunities to contribute to the community in the ways she is uniquely positioned to. "I only say YES to the work where I don't have to compromise my authenticity" She is on a journey of learning and serving. Collaborating to make meaningful contributions in the community that make the settlement journey for newcomers less challenging and more rewarding. Tina is a strong ally of anti-oppression, equity, diversity and inclusion.
Each journey is unique, bold and incredibly courageous. Newcomers bring with them their stories, their accomplishments, their skills, and unshakable perseverance and resilience.