The inclusion of Canada’s immigrants in mainstream society is crucial, both for the quality of life for newcomers and for the development of our society. Newcomers, many times, face barriers upon arrival including poor English language skills and the lack of a social network to support and encourage them. Many arrive knowing very little about the day-to-day workings of Canadian life; workings that most of us take for granted. How to enroll and prepare a child for school. How the parent-teacher relationship works. How to apply for a job. How and where to vote. How to get a library card.
Our newcomer innovations are designed to help immigrant families settle into Canadian society. For the newcomer parent, the Home Visitor is a link to mainstream society. She is a source of information. She knows how to enroll a child in school, how to get a library card, where to take an ESL course. The relationship between the parent and the Home Visitor develops over one to three years. It’s strong. It’s built on trust. And it’s built on understanding, as most Home Visitors were also parents in our programs.
As newcomer families move through the program (s), English language skills improve and their social networks expand. Parents not only learn to teach their children, they inevitably become more confident and, therefore, more comfortable to give and voice their opinions and ideas in the classroom, the lunchroom, the living room, any room they may venture into as they journey through life.
Most importantly, they make friends and create a sense of belonging – a place for themselves in their new homeland.