From facing language barriers and isolation to learning English and making friends— this is the road many immigrant and refugee youth walk down in their journeys of adapting to life in New Westminster.
Over 20 youth shared these stories of struggles and successes during New Westminster’s Common Ground Circle hosted at ISSofBC. The aim of the circle was to provide newcomer youth with a space to share and reflect on their lives in Canada.
“The goal is to find connections through storytelling through these valuable moments we share,” said facilitator Diego Cardona, a Vancouver high school student and former refugee from Colombia.
The group, a mix of youth from all of the world including the Middle East, Latin America, Asia and Africa, shared many commonalities during the dialogue such having trouble completing day-to-day tasks like grocery shopping, going to the bank and crossing the road when they first arrived to Canada. Most agreed the key to overcoming the challenges in their new lives was learning English and making friends with their peers.
This was the fourth and last community dialogue sponsored by the Welcoming and Inclusive New Westminster project (WINS). The dialogues, held over the month of November at ISSofBC in New Westminster, included four groups; seniors, women, men and youth from the community.
A summary of the dialogues will be published at a WINS community celebration event February 2014.
ISSofBC is involved in the Welcoming Communities Program (WCP) in several communities in the Lower Mainland including New Westminster, Burnaby, Tri-Cities and Surrey. WCP’s aim is to raise awareness, enhance intercultural relations and reduce systemic barriers to inclusion.