The New Canadians Centre Peterborough (NCC) began life in 1979 when a group of community members came together to sponsor refugees fleeing the communist regime in Vietnam. They formed the Peterborough Newcomer Language Orientation Committee (PNLOC) in order to welcome and provide support to refugees.
As the organization developed, it became clear that the needs of newcomers went beyond the language, orientation and support services PNLOC was able to provide. The decision was made to become a non-profit organization, and PNLOC began establishing the necessary groundwork. In 1987, the New Canadians Centre Peterborough was born. As a non-profit organization, NCC became eligible for funding established by the federal government in 1974. New funding sources allowed the NCC to offer expanded services and programs such as daycare for children of ESL (English as a Second Language) students until 1991. The NCC realized the vital role employment plays in the successful retention and integration of newcomers in Peterborough, and began offering employment assistance to its clients in 1998.
Over the years, NCC has had to respond to both local and international events. For example, NCC assisted a large number of Polish refugees, and assisted 7 families during the Kosovo crisis in 1999. Closer to home, NCC responded to the 2007 crisis arising from the harassment of Asian fishermen in Eastern Ontario. NCC has also addressed continuously shifting immigration policies and laws, such as the creation of the Immigration and Refugee Board in 1989, the creation of Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) in 1994, the new Immigration Act in 2002, and the amendments to the Citizenship Act in 2009.
Newcomers to Peterborough could initially receive immigration services locally through the Ministry of Employment and Immigration. In 1993, however, the Liberal government moved the Immigration department to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, which has no offices in the Peterborough or Northumberland regions. Because of this shift, it became necessary for NCC to offer increased immigration-related services, such as information, support, and provision of application packages.
The number of new immigrants to Peterborough has increased steadily since NCC opened its doors. As our client base has grown, so have the numbers of new immigrants to surrounding areas such as Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland. NCC has responded by offering itinerant services by request in places such as Lindsay, Campbellford, Port Hope, and Cobourg. In 2008, a second office location was opened in Cobourg in order to better serve the Northumberland region.
In the same year, in collaboration with the Community and Race Relations Committee of Peterborough (CRRC) and the City of Peterborough, the NCC launched the Peterborough Partnership Council on Immigrant Integration. Now consisting of over 30 partner organizations, the Council is responsible for an immigrant integration strategy for Peterborough City and County.
Over the years, NCC has offered many innovative programs and partnered with many community organizations in order to better meet the language, educational, employment and settlement needs of new Canadians. NCC has expanded to offer translation and interpretation services, a public access computer site, extended employment programs, a women’s group, youth groups, and day trips in and around Peterborough and Ontario. In 2004, NCC became the sole organizer of the popular Multicultural Canada Day celebrations in Del Crary Park, which attract thousands of community members and vendors annually.
In 2010, in partnership with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board, NCC launched Settlement Workers in the Schools (SWIS). This program addresses the needs of newcomers and their families by meeting with them in their places of learning.
NCC has grown significantly since its early days. Today, the NCC is an established charitable organization funded by municipal, provincial, federal, and private contributions, with more than 20 permanent staff and 235 volunteers serving over 800 new Canadians each year.