For many newcomer families, this holiday season is their first in Canada. And for some, it is their first time experiencing winter. Amidst the excitement of the holidays, newcomers can also find it very challenging. They are adjusting to a new life in new surroundings, climate, and often language.
Community welcome plays a big role in the transition. This holiday season, our community has been keeping newcomers in mind and taking initiative to help make the holidays memorable, joyous, and comforting for them. From toy-drives and donations to thoughtful messages, our community wants newcomers to know they belong.
“Seeing the smiles and excitement on their faces has been priceless and heartwarming. They’ll be talking about this for a long time.”
We were fortunate to receive donations of toys from the North Face Rally Club, who purchased over $30,000 worth of toys to be distributed amongst several community organisations in Toronto, Peterborough, and the Kawarthas. A toy-drive and collection of gently-used children’s toys, books and clothing were also organised by the Sugar Plum Fairy Society, in addition to toys donated by staff of the Portage Place branch of BMO Bank of Montreal.
Because of the community’s generosity, each of the 12 new Government-Assisted Refugee families who settled in Peterborough this year with children received toys, in addition to clients with children who visited the Centre for services.
Salwa Mirgani, Transition Settlement Worker at the NCC, says, “For the first time in their life, they have toys of their own. Seeing the smiles and excitement on their faces has been priceless and heartwarming. They’ll be talking about this for a long time.”
Thank You to the North Face Rally Club, Sugar Plum Fairy Society, and staff of BMO Bank of Montreal for your generosity.
“It’s important for newcomers to feel welcome and to feel like there are people in our community who are here to support and help them.”
For her 13th birthday this year, Norah Appleby asked her friends to purchase gift cards for newcomer families to help with holiday expenses in lieu of gifts. The result was over $350 in gift cards for grocery stores, convenience stores, and restaurants donated to the NCC for newcomer families. You are amazing, Norah!
Over at downtown businesses Cottage Toys and Charlotte’s Web, the owners wanted to ensure newcomers know they are welcome in Peterborough. Diana MacDonnell, Store Manager at Charlotte’s Web says, “It’s important for newcomers to feel welcome and to feel like there are people in our community who are here to support and help them. People have a hard enough time having to adjust to a new life. It’s important they know there are people in our city who care.”
The two businesses collected donations and gift cards to support the New Canadians Centre as part of their annual VIP night held in November 2019.
These gift cards will be distributed to newcomer families to help them to enjoy the holidays.
In early December, we launched our Messages of Welcome campaign where community members could send in a message to a newcomer. As in previous years, the response has been remarkable. Two weeks in, we’ve already received close to 100 messages.
Many of the messages let newcomers know that Peterborough is welcoming, like this one:
Others, like Cynthia’s, offer helpful tips to get through the winter:
But above all, the messages are hopeful. Hopeful for peace, for home, and a sense of belonging.
From the staff, clients, board, and volunteers of the New Canadians Centre, we Thank You for keeping newcomers in mind this holiday season and always.
From the bottom of our hearts, Thank You!
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