The year was 1979.

My Sharona by The Knack was #1 on Billboard’s Top 100 songs of 1979, a list that also featured YMCA by the Village People

The first Happy Meal went on sale at McDonald’s.

Sony introduced the Walkman Cassette Radio for the standout price of $200.

Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize. 

And in Peterborough, we were seeing the first ripples from the establishment of the Canada Immigration Act of 1978. 

This act established three new categories of immigrants eligible for admission to Canada: Canadian citizens’ family members; Permanent residents and independent immigrants selected on economic grounds; and Refugees.

For the first time, refugees were recognised by the government as a distinct category of immigrants, when in the past, they had only been admitted to Canada under exceptional measures. 

This was a clear statement of intention from Canada to fulfill its legal and humanitarian obligation toward refugees. The act also established one of the most innovative aspects of Canada’s refugee resettlement program — the private sponsorship of refugees.

With the passing of the Canada Immigration Act, Peterborough residents began organising themselves through churches and civic groups for private sponsorship of Vietnamese refugees fleeing the communist regime. And in July 1979, a small group of community members came together to establish a committee, later named the Peterborough Newcomer Language Orientation Committee (PNLOC) which eventually grew into what is now known as the New Canadians Centre. 

PNLOC worked to raise funds to help supplement private sponsorship budgets to support newly arriving families. This entirely volunteer group also served as a coordinating committee to manage the welcome and settlement services for newly arriving refugees in Peterborough.

At its inception, the group was designed to serve Indochinese refugees arriving in Peterborough throughout the 1980s. However, by the mid-1980s, as newcomers began arriving in Peterborough from other parts of the world, it became clear the needs of newcomers went beyond the basic language, orientation, and support services that PNLOC was able to provide. At this point, in 1986, 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. And since then, the NCC has grown to serve newcomers and refugees from all walks of life, and more importantly to continue to grow with our community. 

The New Canadians Centre Peterborough is by all accounts a grassroots organisation; the the fruits of our community’s labour of love. A love that keeps giving to this day. We could not reach this milestone without you. Thank you for standing with us!


This story is part of the New Canadians Centre’s #WeBelong Campaign – Celebrating 40 Years of Inspiring and Encouraging Newcomers.

The #WeBelong Campaign shares powerful stories of Belonging, Home, Hope, and Community from our 40 Years. Follow along with the stories and opportunities on our page: www.nccpeterborough.ca/webelong