Organization’s first Community Day introduced new residents to services available in area
YMCA OF SIMCOE/MUSKOKA
The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka’s immigrant services held its first annual Community Day on Aug. 25 to educate newcomers about public safety and community services.
This free event was open to all ages and brought together various resources such as police, fire, and EMS services, as well as other community-based organizations, which allowed community members to interact with and connect with these important service providers while also learning about their local community.
Newcomers, their families, and the public attended the event, held at the East Bayfield Community Centre in Barrie, to learn more about services available in the area. During the event, newcomers could explore emergency vehicles, school vehicles, and other community resources in order to familiarize themselves with local services, learn how they support their community, and ask questions.
The deputy mayor of Barrie, Barry Ward, also attended the event, as well as representatives from the offices of MPP Andrea Khanjin and MP Doug Shipley. Catherine Chabot, a representative for MPP Andrea Khanjin, shared Khanjin’s background as an immigrant to Canada, and read a message from Khanjin to the newcomers attending the event: “This free community celebration, put on by the SWIS program, is so important for newcomers and immigrants of Barrie to feel welcome and supported, and most importantly, safe, by sharing the great services that our community provides…. As an immigrant myself I will always support newcomers into Barrie and Innisfil and look forward to more future collaboration.”
Deputy mayor of Barrie, Barry Ward, addressed the attendees and thanked newcomers for their contributions to our communities: “Thanks for everything newcomers do to make Barrie a richer city. You really are making Barrie a better place to be, and for that, I thank you.”
“The goal of this annual Community Day Event is to bring newcomers together in a welcoming environment where they can learn about community services and the support systems they can find in their new communities,” said Fatme El Sabbagh, program co-ordinator for the YMCA Immigrant Services Settlement Worker in Schools program.
Getting newcomers comfortable and prepared for life in a new community is important, according to El Sabbagh: “Newcomers who are unfamiliar with Canadian public and community services may be apprehensive about interactions with these organizations, or may not even know they exist. Through this event, we hope to educate newcomers and their families about the services available to them, as well as provide them with the opportunity to interact and connect with these important service providers.”
This event is part of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka’s commitment to supporting newcomers to Canada through their Immigrant Services programs, the most recent of which is the Settlement Worker in Schools (SWIS) program. The SWIS program launched last year as a partnership between the YMCA, the Simcoe County District School Board, and the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, providing support for newcomer children, youth, and their families to integrate into their new school and community. Students are connected with a YMCA settlement worker to provide translation assistance, orientation support, and information sessions.
The SWIS team holds community events during the summer break to keep students and their families engaged and provide them with a chance to meet and interact with other newcomer families.
The SWIS program is available throughout all elementary and secondary schools in the County of Simcoe, is open to all immigrant, newcomer, and refugee students and their families, and provides support in over 15 languages. If you, or someone you know, would benefit from the SWIS program, please visit www.ymcasm.ca/SWIS to learn more, or contact a YMCA settlement worker at 705-791-6378 or email@example.com.