Local Tim Hortons Store Helps Newcomers Feel Like They Belong

When brothers Yousef and Hayder recall some of their most memorable moments of first living in Peterborough, having a double double at Mary Blair’s Tim Hortons store on Hunter Street East stands out.

Originally from Iraq and having made their way to Canada via Turkey, Yousef and Hayder face the challenge of living with significant visual impairment. Combine this with the fact they speak very little English, the two brothers weren’t sure they’d be successful ordering coffee at the Tim Hortons located in East City. “They were worried about how they would navigate the process because of the barriers they face,” explains Maicel Neema, a Resettlement Assistance Case Worker at the New Canadians Centre (April 2016 – April 2019). “Despite the challenges they face, they were eager to connect and learn more about people living in our community.  I explained to Yousef and Hayder that Peterborough is a very welcoming city. When people see your white cane and realize you don’t speak much English, they will help you.”

That’s exactly what happened. Staff at the Tim Hortons went out of their way to welcome Hayder and Yousef. They directed the brothers to a table, helped them get seated and brought coffee to them. Customers were also extremely friendly  – greeting the newcomers, making them feel like they belong. Overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness, Yousef and Hayder expressed how good it felt to be welcomed. Not long after their initial visit, the brothers starting making several trips to their favourite coffee spot. “They put the address into their GPS,” laughs Maicel.

Newcomers Hayder (l) and Yousef with their caseworker Maicel Neema


For the second year in a row, Tim Hortons has demonstrated their commitment to welcoming newcomers in Peterborough as a major sponsor of the Multicultural Canada Day Festival the New Canadians Centre puts on every year in Del Crary Park.  “We are thrilled to partner with the New Canadians Centre as the sponsor of the Kids Zone,” explains store owner Mary Blair.  “Encouraging newcomer youth to develop their talents and their individual gifts is so important. The work of the New Canadians Centre in helping newcomer youth to build skills and gain confidence aligns with our mission. It’s wonderful to partner with them for this important initiative.”

Volunteer and newcomer youth Aya Darrouba in the Kids Zone tent sponsored by Tim Hortons at the Multicultural Canada Day Festival in Del Crary Park on July 1. For the second year, Tim Hortons has sponsored the annual event which attracts more than 10,000 people to the Del Crary every year. Tim Hortons is dedicated to supporting programs that support skills building, leadership and community connection for children and youth.