DETROIT -- Christine Sauvé knows the value of feeling welcomed into a community.
After graduating from the University of Michigan, Sauvé served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mauritania and Senegal, where she helped address communal agriculture and nutritional challenges.
For Sauvé, moving to Africa initially was a culture shock.
“Learning new languages, new customs, how to navigate a community and all those things were new to me,” Sauvé said. “But everyone was so accommodating and helpful. After I returned to the United States, I wanted to return that favor to others who might be new to the communities here.”
Sauvé currently leads community engagement and communications strategies for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC). She is the first of four Game Changers that the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings and Comerica Bank are honoring during Hispanic Heritage Month.
“Christine embodies to true spirit of a Game Changer when it comes to opening up opportunities and making an impact within the community,” said Kevin Brown, director of community impact for Ilitch Sports + Entertainment. “We’re honored to kick off the month by celebrating Christine, who has dedicated herself to advance opportunities and increase awareness for immigrants across Michigan.”
MIRC is a legal resource center for the state’s immigrant communities. As a program of Michigan Statewide Advocacy Services (MSAS) and Michigan Advocacy Program (MAP), it works to help immigrant communities experience equity and belonging.
“I get to work with communities across the state,” Sauvé said. “I partner with community groups and other stakeholders who are trying to help immigrants overcome and remove certain barriers.”
Sauvé said MIRC supports individuals who are affected by immigration status, immigrants’ rights and immigrant welfare programs.
“We want everyone to know they have access to certain things being offered,” Sauvé said. “There’s a lot of frustration when you do come across barriers, but there is a joy getting to work with different community groups.”
At MIRC, Sauvé and her peers hold active leadership roles in regional, statewide and national coalitions and organizations that help people know their rights as immigrants in Michigan.
“Alongside many immigrant groups, especially in Detroit, we solve problems,” Sauvé said. “We come up with ways that we can tackle issues within the communities.”
In July 2021, MIRC launched the first cohort of its Community Council, which is committed to raising awareness towards the experience and voices of those most affected by immigration and farmworker issues.
For Sauvé, the council’s evolution has been a valuable storytelling opportunity.
“Sometimes it’s highlighting a slight policy change or getting the word out about existing services,” Sauvé’s said. “But knowing that people can take advantage of that support through my work is meaningful.”
When reflecting on her time at MIRC, Sauvé is proud to be part of an organization that is positively changing the immigration narrative in the United States.
“With the way immigration is talked about in the news, some people may not understand how or why others come here,” Sauvé said. “We try to help immigrants tell their own stories and find that when people hear these stories firsthand, it dispels stereotypes. That goes a long way.”
To learn more about MIRC, visit MIRC.org.