Trixie Ling, Founder, Flavours of Hope

Trixie Ling, Founder, Flavours of Hope

Trixie Ling saw her parents struggle firsthand.

As Taiwanese newcomers to Canada, “they faced language barriers, culture barriers, and had to navigate all these new systems while feeling isolated and lonely,” Trixie says. “As a kid, it was hard to watch.”

Trixie now removes some of the barriers newcomer women face through her award-winning non-profit social enterprise, Flavours of Hope, whose vision is for newcomer immigrant and refugee women to flourish and experience belonging through cooking, storytelling, community-building, and entrepreneurship. Social enterprises are ventures driven by social and/or environmental goals that reinvest profits into achieving their social missions.

Flavours of Hope’s Dream Cuisines Food Business Program supports and empowers women and gender-diverse people to build on their skills and strengths to launch their own food businesses. Dream Cuisines, supported by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, offers participants business workshops, access to commercial kitchens, opportunities to sell products through local farmer’s markets, and a community of diverse mentors and partners.

“Food has the power to build bridges between cultures and help people remember who they are and where they come from,” Trixie says. “It’s not about having women assimilate into Canadian culture; I want them to have the space and opportunity to flourish and lead with cultural pride in the community.”

A Dream Cuisines program participant representing her food business at a market

Dream Cuisines program participants represent their food businesses at a local market.

So far, 10 women have launched food businesses through the program since 2020, and Trixie has watched their confidence, sense of belonging, and leadership skills grow. The impacts of starting a business go beyond earning money.

“They tell me their business brings their family closer together. That’s huge. That’s what intergenerational change is. The kids get to see their mom being confident and being a leader in the community. Other women in the community see them with their own business and say, ‘If you can do it, I can do it too.’ ”

Trixie says Dream Cuisines is also addressing the gap in women’s leadership in the male-dominated food and restaurant industry by creating a platform for newcomer women to be their own bosses and work collaboratively to lift each other up.

The Food Business Program is designed to increase access, equity, and inclusion for newcomer women who are often juggling childcare needs and face multiple barriers with varying levels of English fluency, technical skills, and business experience. The program creates space to develop a sense of kinship and friendships between participants so they can support each other through the joys and struggles of daily life and entrepreneurship.

“Many of the women I work with, despite the hardship and trauma of migration, are able to rise above and be strong, resilient and determined to build a better life for themselves and their families and communities,” Trixie says. “These are the kinds of stories I want to tell.”