Canadian winters can be hard to love – especially for new immigrants and refugees from warmer climates! The Community Connections Program at the New Canadians Centre seeks to change that. Through a close partnership with the staff and students at the Lakefield College School inspired by their Service Learning Coordinator, Alaina Connelly, we introduce a different group of newcomers each year to the fun that can be had in the snow!
“Lovely Sunday! Enjoy with winter activities trip! I had a lot of happy and fun games! Relax and release my stress!” said Vicky Bui, a newcomer from Vietnam with the help of the Google Translate app on her phone.
On a cold and icy Sunday afternoon this February, thirty four intrepid new Canadians, many of whom were experiencing their first winter in Canada, set out to enjoy a program of outdoor activities including hiking through the snowy woods to the lake, broomball on the ice, tobogganing and, the iconic Canadian campfire pursuit – making S’mores. For those who preferred to keep warm, there was a roaring fire indoors and the chance to play badminton and table tennis. The 12 student volunteers who ran the activities could not have been more welcoming. From the moment they introduced themselves and the languages they could speak, the newcomers felt right at home. Each person was treated with care, and attention was given to making sure they all had a good time.
Highlights of the afternoon were: two newcomers, one from Vietnam and one from Venezuela discovering that they were both champion table tennis players; the only Russian speaking student at the college being able to spend an afternoon speaking her language and bonding with a family from Kazakhstan; two Syrian refugees, brothers who are both visually impaired, enjoying making S’mores with two volunteers from their support team; a toddler sliding on a tiny toboggan; an extended family from Colombia on the ice for the first time playing broomball with the students; and everyone ending the visit by making delicious maple taffy on the snow.
It is connections like this that truly strengthen our community.
The Community Connections Program at the New Canadians Centre supports the integration of immigrants and refugees in Peterborugh by introducing them to local volunteers and opportunities that increase their social connections and networks, as gain awareness of Canadian heritage, culture, and life in Canada. Learn more about the Community Connections Program >>