Newcomers Give Back in Peterborough and Northumberland

Each year, the counties of Peterborough and Northumberland welcome approximately 800 newcomers coming from over 100 countries and speaking more than 50 different languages. Newcomers choose Peterborough and Northumberland for a variety of reasons – some for education, others for work, and some to join their families already living here. As these new families integrate and build their new homes, they note how welcoming their respective cities have been to them.

For many newcomers though, the real marker of belonging, integration, and a sense of home comes when they can give back and show their appreciation.

Shortly after the close of the 2018/19 school year, four newcomer youth from Syria and the Ivory Coast came together as a group to volunteer to make food for guests of the Warming Room. On May 21, the girls prepped 100 sandwiches in the kitchen at St. James United Church, and with the support of the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) team at the NCC, the sandwiches were delivered to the Warming Room. Acknowledging the support their families received in their times of need, the girls felt it important to pay it forward by helping others in need.

Over the past three years, the New Canadians Centre has delivered several skills-building programs through the Peterborough Immigration Partnership to support newcomers’ employment opportunities. This was with the support of grants and our generous donors . In 2018/19 over 128 hours of training was delivered to 42 newcomers over 6 courses. In Spring 2019, two groups of newcomers who had completed sewing training enrolled in a specially-curated “Charitable Sewing Project” as a way to show their gratitude for the skills they had acquired through training made possible by community support.

The first group of 6 newcomers learned to make soup-bowl cozies which were then donated to the Nourish Project. These were given out to participants of their Soup/er Workshop Series which explores healthy and affordable soup recipes.

The second group of 6 newcomers participated in a screen-printing workshop during which they printed a repeating pattern symbolizing happiness and joy on fabric. The fabric was used to created shopping totes which were donated to the Peterborough Downtown Farmers’ Market to promote plastic-free shopping.

Over in the town of Cobourg, when the city put a call out to the community to participate in a city-wide clean up the April, the recently-formed Muslim Community of Northumberland (MCN) formed a team of 13 people to participate. The team of adults and children included newcomers from Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Mexico, and Senegal. On Saturday April 27, they assembled at Donegan Park on D’Arcy St, a familiar recreational spot. The MCN believed it was important to be involved in the clean up to show appreciation to the community that welcomed them, and to do their part to help keep their new home clean and safe for everyone.

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: