Family & Community Resource Guide
Canada’s immigration policy reflects the important role that family plays in our lives by giving top priority to reuniting families. Where families cannot be brought together in Canada, many organizations and individuals try their best to provide support and community. We asked participants about their families, finding community, and building new relationships with extended family and new friends. This section highlights the important role that close relationships play in our lives and the positive impact of making connections and building community.
Most of the participants who were interviewed for Collective Threads came to Canada with other members of their family, or, if they came on their own, had a family member or close friend already in Canada. Parents were often motivated to come to Canada to provide better opportunities for their children, hoping for greater security, access to education and healthcare, and inclusion in a more diverse society. Many participants spoke of the relatives they left behind, and shared the importance of memory and handmade objects to help them feel connected to their loved ones.
Despite having local support from family and friends, participants sought new connections to feel more integrated in Canadian society. In the featured interviews, we hear how finding a temple and a community of immigrants from Punjab in Brampton allowed a woman from India develop new social networks in Canada. We hear how each of the siblings who came to Canada with their parents from Pakistan has married a partner of a different ethnicity, including Pakistani, Filipino, Chilean and Canadian. One participant from Iran describes his first winter in Canada, and remarks upon how people in his neighbourhood came together to help each other when an ice storm caused a power outage.
- As a newcomer, do any of the stories featured in this module resonate with your own experience? Why or why not?
- Look through magazines to find representations of different families in advertisements and articles. Who are the individuals who make up each family unit, and what is each person’s role? How do these models of family life differ from those in your country of origin?
- Who are the people who you interact with on a daily basis? Think about ways in which you can acknowledge the positive impact of certain individuals on your daily life.
- Share your family tree with the group. Compare the roles and responsibilities of each generation of your family.
- Identify changes taking place in Canadian society that are having an impact on human interactions. What are the positive and negative effects of these changes?
- What are the benefits and challenges of multiculturalism in Canada?
- Canadian Citizenship and Immigration has information about family sponsorship for Canadian citizens and permanent residents who want to sponsor relatives.
- Canadian Immigrant magazine has a section on community with articles that profile exciting community projects, challenges that newcomers face and unpacking elements of ‘Canadian identity’ such as the maple leaf and politeness. canadianimmigrant.ca
- Volunteering can be a great way to make connections in a new community. Volunteer Toronto connections volunteers to organizations that need them. volunteertoronto.site-ym.com
- List of Ethnocultural Groups in Toronto:
- List of Immigrant, Newcomer and Refugee services in Toronto, many are culturally specific:
- There are a number of organizations that offer support and community for LGBTQ+ newcomers:
- Access Alliance: accessalliance.ca/programs-services/lgbtq-programs
- The 519: www.the519.org/programs/category/new-to-canada
- Supporting Our Youth (SOY): soytoronto.org/programs/express
- reachOUT: www.griffincentre.org/reachout.php
- Sankofa CultureLink Youth: www.culturelink.ca/2014/04/10/sankofa-youth-drop-in-program
- Metropolitan Community Church: www.mcctoronto.com/what-we-do/social-justice/refugee-program
Seniors and Aging:
- The Spectra Telecheck Seniors Program provides ongoing telephone support for isolated seniors, including medication reminders, safety check-ins, emotional support and companionship. Services offered in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu. 289-569-1201 or www.spectrahelpline.org/index.php/our-services/telecheck-seniors-program
- The Province of Ontario offers a guide to programs and services for seniors, available in 16 languages. www.ontario.ca/page/guide-programs-and-services-seniors
- CANES Community Care offers Newcomer Elderly Outreach for South Asian seniors.
416-743-3892 x228 or visit www.canes.on.ca/services/newcomer-elderly-outreach