December 2016 newsletter

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Photo courtesy Dana Perry

As the days grow colder we rely more on the warmth in our communities, our homes and our hearts. Maybe that's why the Engage team has been so enthusiastic about a Thanksgiving season that continued into late November. We have been touched and inspired by the way hundreds of people opened their homes to newcomers in October, followed by another wave of hosts and guests who turned out for a lively community dinner at Pier 21 in November. 

We can’t help but wonder what would happen if that welcoming spirit flowed into the holiday season, and then into the new year. And what if we didn't need to wait to host newcomers, but also reached out to long-time neighbours we haven't yet met? 

We wish everyone a warm holiday season and look forward to the work we will do together in the new year. 

The Thanksgiving that didn't stop

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Language wasn't a barrier for the children playing and laughing in a corner of the room at Pier 21 on November 22. There were well over 100 under the age of 10, some recent refugees and others born in Nova Scotia. The children later joined their parents, KidZone2_(1).jpgwho were getting to know their host families over a late Canadian Thanksgiving dinner. Altogether about 440  people filled the room, including volunteer organizers and interpreters, hosts and guests. This was the follow-up event for the newcomers who had signed up to take part in Share Thanksgiving weekend but hadn't yet been matched with a host family. We made it easy by renting a large hall and putting out the call for a new round of hosts. Within four days we had more than enough volunteer families ready to host a table. 

So...thank you, hosts! And a big thank you to our partners, who rolled up their sleeves at every step. We are grateful to ISANS for all their help, especially with the little things that made a big difference. A big thank you to Scotiabank, who offered financial support and then stepped in to help engage the children. And it turned out that Pier 21 was the perfect venue, as the iconic gateway for newcomers. A tour of the museum was a highlight for many, who experienced their own journey against the backdrop of a long tradition of immigrants and refugees being welcomed to their new country. 

Read the article: Thanksgiving means more than dinner...

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