Where community connects

Happy Canada Day: Welcoming newcomers

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9 A conversation circle

We’d like to wish everyone a happy Canada Day, especially newcomers to Canada who are celebrating with us for the first time.

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve received a grant of $20,470 from the Immigration Partnership Council that we’ll be using to host English conversation circles for Syrian newcomers, beginning this fall. The grant funding will be used to pay for translation services, new resources,  and bus tickets for participants.

On June 24, Premier Kathleen Wynne visited Central Library and met with six local Syrian families for a private conversation circle of their own.

With an Arabic translator on hand, Premier Wynne said “We want you to fell welcome, and we want you to feel that you have opportunities.”

Library CEO Mary Chevreau and Wayne Buchholtz, chair of the library board, led Ms. Wynne on a tour of Central Library. Kitchener-Centre MPP Daiene Vernile and Dr. Liana Nolan, head of public health for Waterloo Region, were our local hosts. Other dignitaries who attended were Deputy Premier Deb Matthews, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworski, and Waterloo Region Chair Ken Seiling.

Librarian Kristin Johnson-Perlock, who leads our multicultural and ESL programming, is still finalising details, but she’ll continue working with our valued community partners on this new initiative.

“So many incredible organizations, agencies, and individuals support refugees and newcomers in this community. It’s really exciting that the library can contribute to these efforts to broaden the scope of programs for refugees and newcomers,” she said.

We’ll be offering English Conversation Circles at Forest Heights Community Library and Grand River Stanley Park Community Library,  and a Women’s Conversation and Social Circle at Central Library.

“Libraries are welcoming spaces that aim to serve everyone in our community. With this grant, KPL has the amazing opportunity to welcome and connect with our newest community members. We hope that these programs will provide refugees and newcomers the chance to practice and learn English in an informal and supportive environment, socialize with others, and feel a part of the community,” Kristin said.

You’ll find more details in our fall issue of In Touch magazine, and on our website later this summer. Please share with your network of friends, family, community organizations and churches to help us reach people who can benefit from these conversation circles.

LEARN MORE

  • More than 28,000 Syrian people have arrived in Canada. Of those, about 1,275 have settled in Waterloo Region, most of them in Kitchener.
  • The Immigration Partnership Fund for Syrian Newcomers continues to accept applications for support from agencies and private sponsors on a rolling basis. The next deadline is July 6, 2016. Community donations up to $400,000 are being matched through The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation.
  • English Conversation Circle: An opportunity to practise speaking English in an informal, safe, and relaxed environment. A chance to improve English language and listening skills; increase confidence in speaking English; learn about Canadian culture and customs; and socialize with others.
  • Women’s Conversation and Social Circle:  For women, with child-minding services provided. An opportunity to practise speaking English in an informal, safe, and relaxed environment, as well as socialize with other mothers. Program content will have a greater focus on topics such as parenting, self-care, women’s issues, etc. Speakers can be invited to discuss relevant topics.
  • Join us for an info session about IELTS (International English Language Testing System) provided by YMCA Immigrant Services

 

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Author: Charlotte Prong

I'm the Social Media Editor at Kitchener Public Library. Follow us on Twitter @KitchLibrary, on Instagram @kitchenerlibrary, or like our page on Facebook.

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