Madam Speaker, two years ago Rossmere resident Julia Todd wanted to help newcomers settle in North Kildonan. A three-time immigrant herself, Julia knows firsthand the difference friendly locals can make to those finding their way in a new culture.
Along with 8 friends from her church, Julia started a Conversational English class in January 2017 with 11 students. Now 15 months later, 25 volunteers serve over 40 students from 16 countries. Here is how one student describes her experience:
My family and I arrived to Canada from Ukraine almost 5 years ago. [The] Conversational English Classes at Gateway Church help me improve my English …After the class about Government and Politics, I successfully passed my citizenship exam. After the topic about Employment, I found a new job. At these classes I’ve found new friends. The volunteers …donate their time and skills to help us… Their help and support has made me a stronger person and I will forever be grateful.
But in blessing others, the volunteers are enriched, too. One volunteer writes:
The EAL program [offers] a place to belong and the beginnings of community… Hope is coming. Most newcomers go through set stages of culture shock and adjustment …[and] many lose hope. I believe we are bringing hope through improved language [and] a growing belief that Canada could actually feel like home some day. The whole atmosphere is one of genuine friendliness and welcome.
Madam Speaker, volunteers and students from this group are visiting us today and I invite all members to join me in welcoming them.