Welcome to the first edition of the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership's Community Colours Newsletter! 
  1. Introducing the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership
  2. Council Member Profile: YMCA of Brockville and Area
  3. Council Member Profile: Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
  4. Immigrant Entrepreneur Profile
  5. Syrian Refugee Resettlement Developments
  6. Immigration Partnership Staff
  7. Immigration Partnership Updates
  8. Community Events and Updates
Introducing the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership
Welcome to the first issue of our Community Colours newsletter branded as the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership!  As part of our program’s evolution, we wanted to refresh our name to recognize two features of the local landscape that are known locally, nationally and internationally; the St. Lawrence River and the Rideau Canal.  The new name aligns with our broader mission to become a region where immigrants from across Canada and other countries settle.  Our region of focus remains Leeds and Grenville.

As part of our brand refresh process, we also wanted to take a look at our brand colours.  The dynamic play of colour in the Immigration Partnership logo represents diversity – the diversity of local newcomers, the diversity of our work, the diversity of our partners, and the diversity of our community members.  While retaining the traditional colours of the Immigration Partnership, it was also important for us to incorporate the colour blue, to illustrate the St. Lawrence River and Rideau Canal. Research has demonstrated that these are some of the main features of the area that people love and recognize.  The two open hands symbolize ‘welcoming’ – a characteristic of Leeds and Grenville that has been identified by newcomers and local citizens.
Along with our new logo and name, the Leeds & Grenville Immigration Portal will also get a makeover – expect to see its new look in the coming months.  We would like to thank our local design agency, Maggie McGill Media, for all of their hard work and to all of our Immigration Partnership Council members for their input and for being part of our journey.
Immigration Partnership Council Member Profile: Brockville and Area YMCA
We are pleased to introduce one of the Immigration Partnership’s newest council members, the YMCA of Brockville and Area.   
Healthy Living and Social Responsibility
The YMCA of Brockville and Area strives to be a community catalyst for healthy living, personal development and social responsibility.  Every year, the YMCA of Brockville and Area assists over 1,200 community members of all ages and backgrounds, in accessing lifesaving and life enhancing programs including camp, swim lessons, aqua fitness, child care, youth nights, before and after school care, and many more. 

Pursuing its mission to encourage growth in spirit, mind and body, so that individuals, families and communities can be stronger, the Y continues to create new partnerships and branch back out into the community.  Today, the Y has partnerships with the City of Brockville and with 22 (2010) local agencies, sharing resources to serve the community better.  For example, in 2016 the Y welcomed over 750 Grade 3 students from 30 local schools to the Swim to Survive program.  Swim to Survive is an important first step to being safe around water, and could mean the difference between life and death when immersion in water is sudden and unexpected. 

YMCA Membership Assistance
The YMCA strives to include all members of the community.  Through the YMCA Annual Giving Campaign: Strong Kids, individuals and families can apply for financial assistance in order to participate in YMCA programs and services they otherwise could not afford.  The YMCA Membership Assistance is funded by donations and are used directly in the local community. 

Building a Community for Syrian Refugees
Responding to the needs of newcomers is part of the purpose that YMCAs across the country serve as Canada’s centres of community. To that end, the Brockville Y, has welcomed new Syrian families with free family memberships, which they have been taking full advantage of.  This has provided the families with healthy outlets for their physical and social energy, but also has be an opportunity to practice their English in the community. 
Immigration Partnership Council Member Profile: Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
The Health Unit officially opened on July 1, 1947, to service the municipalities of Leeds and Grenville.  In 1967, Lanark District joined the organization, which then became the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit (LGLDHU).  In July 2017, the Health Unit will celebrate its 70th anniversary.
The Health Unit provides public health programs and services to improve the health of its residents in collaboration with other health units, the provincial government, Public Health Ontario, local municipalities, and many local and provincial partners.  A variety of service sites exist across the region, with offices in Smith Falls, Brockville, Kemptville, Gananoque, and Almonte.  A referral is not needed for any service.
Supporting Newcomer Parents
Newcomer parents may feel overwhelmed by the many demands they are facing and uncertain about their parenting skills in the context of their new country.  The Health Unit offers various parenting support programs, including the Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program, a free voluntary program across Ontario.  The program is for pregnant moms, their partners, and families with young children up until they start school.  Public Health Nurses and Family Home Visitors can provide newcomer parents guidance on parenting expectations in Canada, share resources, and connect families with community programs to help families get the best start possible.

Oral Health Screening
Oral health is a basic component of children’s health and a particular concern in young newcomers to Canada.  Young newcomers may not have received dental care before their arrival or learned about oral hygiene in their country of origin.  Young newcomers to Canada may be eligible for dental funding assistance through Healthy Smiles Ontario is a free dental program that includes regular check-ups, preventive care, and treatment for children and youth 17 and under.
Immunization for Newcomer Families
Immunization is a key part of ensuring the complete health of newcomers, as well as Canadian citizens. Due to ongoing conflict in many refugees' country of origin, they might not have received effective immunizations.  The immunization clinics across Leeds and Grenville provide the confidential services listed below:
  • Routine childhood immunization 
  • Routine adult immunization 
  • Tuberculosis (TB) testing
  • Select Travel Immunizations
Sexual Health Clinics
Sexual and reproductive health is an essential aspect of the overall health and well-being of an individual.  The Health Unit provide services to people of all ages, genders and sexual orientations.
Services provided include:
  • Sexual health counselling and referrals
  • Low cost birth control
  • FREE condoms
  • Emergency Contraceptive Pill (Plan B)
  • FREE pregnancy testing, counselling and referrals
  • Pap Tests (By appointment only)
  • STI testing & FREE treatments
Immigrant Entrepreneur Profile:
Nicolas Chamieh

By: Vivianne White, Project Coordinator, St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership
Nicolas Chamieh is the owner of Shawarma Garden, the new Shawarma restaurant that opened on King Street in downtown Brockville in September 2016.  Born in Zahlé, Lebanon, Nicolas originally came to Canada as a tourist to visit the capital city, where he later on met his wife.  He moved to Brockville to be with his wife, a Brockville native.   I had the opportunity to sit down with Nicolas at his restaurant and chat with him about his settlement and entrepreneurship journey.
Shawarma Garden blossomed from the heart of the Lebanese Cuisine.  This garden beholds the most exquisite, delectable and appetizing bouquets of the Mediterranean countries’ famous delicacy, the Shawarma.  In addition to a unique local specialty, the Montreal-Style Smoked Meat.  This unique combination has led to the cultivation of one concept
– SHAWARMA Garden.
What was your experience moving to Canada/Brockville like?
The move to Brockville was not a very challenging one for Nicolas.  Prior to coming to Canada, Nicolas had lived in Africa for six years.  “I had already experienced living in a new country and been exposed to other cultures,” he said.  For many newcomers, learning English is often the most difficult challenge they face.  Luckily for Nicolas, he did not have to overcome any language barriers, “in my home country, we learn how to speak English at school from the beginning” he said. Nicolas is trilingual, speaking Arabic, French and English.  The thought of small town life may sound undesirable for some, but this was not the case for Nicolas.  “I lived in a small town in Lebanon, so I am used to it” he said. “I hate traffic and big cities,” he added.
What was your business experience prior to arriving in Canada/Brockville?
It is not uncommon for immigrant entrepreneurs to start a business in Canada without any prior business experience.  For Nicolas, this was not the case – he has extensive business experience and has degree in Business Management.  “In Africa I was the manager of a mall that had different departments, including a restaurant – similar to Walmart” he said.  I asked Nicolas, “Why did you decide to open a Shawarma restaurant in Brockville?” His response, “because they didn’t have one – a lot of young people have discovered Shawarma in other cities and enjoy it.  They tell their parents about it, who then give it a try – people enjoy it”.  Nicolas’ business model is: Quantity + Quality at a Cheap Price! 

I understand that you are also providing Arabic interpretation services to the Refugees for Brockville Steering Committee.  Tell me, what has your experience been like with helping the new Syrian families?
“I have always liked to help others,” said Nicolas.  Nicolas has been involved with the new refugee families in Brockville, translating from English to Arabic and vice versa.  “In the beginning it was much more demanding,” said Nicolas.  Now, the families are much more self-sufficient.  “Every time they [the refugee families] received something in the mail they would call me to translate it.” There is a steep learning curve for the refugees, for example “they aren’t used to credit cards and hydro bills – everything was in cash,” said Nicolas. The families are learning, “the first, second time they would get a hydro bill they would call me, now they recognize the HydroOne logo and know what to do,” he added.  

As an immigrant business owner, do you feel it is important to hire immigrants?
“Yes, it is important,” said Nicolas.  However, Nicolas believes that it is equally important to hire local Canadian workers as well.  “I look at qualifications first,” he said.

Have you been able to hire immigrants? What has that experience been like?
Nicolas has hired 1 refugee so far.  “Language and communication have been the biggest challenge,” he said.

What do you like most about Brockville?  What would you like to see improved?
“I love how everyone is so welcoming,” said Nicolas.  There are many things that Nicolas likes about Brockville, including the river, the weather and summer time.  When I asked Nicolas what he would like to see improved, he said “I think the city needs to do more – there could be more movement downtown.” Nicolas also spoke about the recent closing of the downtown beer store and TD bank.  As the result of the TD bank closing, Nicolas has decided to move his business to CIBC, one of the only banks left downtown.  Nicolas is looking forward to seeing how the opening of the Railway Tunnel does for the downtown area, but believes that there “should be more hotels and festivals downtown – things to attract the younger generation”.
Refugee Resettlement Developments
As of January 2017 Canada has welcomed over 40,000 refugees from Syria.  The Leeds and Grenville region has welcomed 56 refugees from Syria, Eritrea and Liberia, since late 2015.  Twelve refugee families are now calling Brockville, Gananoque and Kemptville home, with more expected to arrive in the coming months.  Family sizes range from 1-10, with an average of 4-5 family members. 
There has been an incredible community interest in and support for welcoming these new families. Ten different local organizations and groups, have come together to sponsor families through both the blended visa office-referred program and through private sponsorships. 
Community Initiatives Supporting Refugee Settlement in Leeds Grenville
Dr. Jacqueline Schoemaker Holmes was appointed the new Chair for the Refugees for Brockville (RFB) Steering Committee by the City of Brockville Mayor, David Henderson, in December 2016.  Jacqueline has been leading the steering committees monthly meetings since January 2017.  Through the support of the volunteer committee members, the group has organized multiple educational sessions and awareness events for sponsorship groups, service providers and community members.  Presentations have been focused on topics such as mental health and wellbeing, Syrian culture, and month 13 planning.  
The RFB Committee continues to operate the Community Refugee Relief Fund, and review requests for funding for emergency needs on an ongoing basis. To date, community funds raised have been used to hire a part time Arabic interpreter to assist families as they arrive, and to offset additional expenses such as dental care.  The group is well on its way to accomplish its mission to welcome 10+ families to the Brockville and area community, with a total of 9 families now calling Brockville home.  To stay up to date with the group’s initiatives, you can request to join the Facebook group here or visit their website at www.refugees4brockville.com.   
“The Refugees for Brockville Committee continues to be buoyed and inspired by the ongoing enthusiasm and commitment of the community which has supported the Committee mandate to bring 10 refugee families/individuals to Brockville since the beginning. As we approach the goal of 10 newcomer families, Refugees for Brockville will continue its mission to welcome and assist in the integration and support of all newcomers to Brockville. We look forward to strengthening Brockville as a place of inclusion and diversity and to welcoming those who continue to face desperate circumstances around the globe. We are grateful to the sponsor groups and to all community members who have stepped forward and have gone above and beyond to help make Brockville a welcoming city to all those who now call it home.”

– Dr. Jacqueline Schoemaker Holmes, Chair, Refugees for Brockville Committee
United Welcome has welcomed the newest refugee family to Brockville, the Al-Sharaqbis, who arrived in February 2017.  This is the second family that United Welcome has sponsored to come live and settle in Brockville.
St. John Bosco Catholic Church welcomed the Alkafrei family, Ahmad, his wife Rajaa, son Ibrahem, age four, daughter Sondos, age two and a half, to Canada in late January 2017.  Son Essa was born on February 1st at the Brockville General Hospital.  Robert Beaudry, the lead volunteer of the sponsorship group, stated “the family is doing well – Ahmad goes to English classes five mornings a week, and Rajaa two mornings. Essa of course is a Canadian citizen, while the other four all have just received their permanent resident cards.”

Joanna Perry, a Refugees for Brockville committee member who is leading the Brockville Wesleyan Church and Centennial Road Church's volunteer team, provided an update on the Al Nabelsi family, who arrived at the end of November 2016.  Joanna said that she is pleased with the efforts the family has been putting in, and “the happiness level of the family is very encouraging” she said.   The newcomers have been well received, “community members have offered to take the family boating and fishing this summer,” added Joanna.  This winter season, sleds were also donated to the family.  The parents have been attending ESL courses regularly, with volunteer drivers driving them to and from their courses six times a week.  Both parents have realized that learning the language is very important and they are motivated, “the father is taking additional tutoring at the public library,” said Joanna.  The family is adapting to family life in Brockville and are making friends here.  They hope to take advantage of their free YMCA family membership more often and their eldest son will be participating in spring soccer in the coming months.  
Merrickville Bridge to Canada (MBC) is an organization of committed residents of Merrickville who want to help make a difference for refugees in need of a new home.  Their objective is to welcome and settle at least one family in Merrickville.  “We are actively waiting to be matched with a family,” said Audrey Bridge, Chair of the Merrickville Bridge to Canada group. “We’ve been moved from number 10 to number 4 on the BVOR waiting list” she added.  Although the sponsorship group has been moved up on the BVOR list, there is no knowing how long it may take to be assigned a family.  The reason for the bump on the list is due to many groups switching to private sponsorship rather than the BVOR route, said Audrey
As a result of the community-wide effort, the MerrickvilleBridge organization raised close to $2,500 at the Mainstreet Village Chef event in February.  The event was sponsored by Chaiya Decor, located in Merrickville.   
In the meantime, the group continues to organize several events to raise additional funds to cover the transportation expenses required to move a family to Merrickville.  On April 8th 2017, the group will be hosting a Music Night with Craig Cardiff at the Merrickville United Church, with all proceeds going towards the local organization.  Tickets are $25 and are available for purchase here or at Wick Witch Candle and Bath Co. in Merrickville.  The group has also announced that they will be hosting their 2nd Annual Fundraising Golf Tournament at Lombard Glen Golf & Country Club in September 2017.  For more information visit: www.merrickville-bridge.ca or their Facebook page here.

On March 3rd 2017, the Gananoque Refugee Settlement Group (GRSG), partnered with the Ivy Restaurant in Lansdowne, to host an evening of Syrian Dining, “A Feast from the East”.  The dinner was a fundraiser to help support the GRSG and its efforts to bringing more Syrian refugees to Gananoque.  The group raised $4,521 with the event and over 80 people attended the dinner of fine Syrian cuisine, with tickets selling out a week before the event.  To date, the GRSG has sponsored two Syrian refugee families to come and live in Gananoque.  For more information visit the groups Facebook page – Ganonoque Refugee Settlement Group.

After many months of work and preparation by a very devoted group of local people, the Refugees in North Grenville (R.I.N.G) group welcomed the Alyousef family to Kemptville in September 2016.  The group has a second family in line, however, “are not expected to arrive before the fall at the earliest”, said Sally Jorgensen, Chair and President of the R.I.N.G sponsoring committee.  For more information visit: www.refugeesng.com
The Immigration Partnership Staff
The Immigration Partnership staff team has changed in the last year.  We are extremely proud of the work we continue to do with our partners to embrace newcomers and encourage settlement in our region.
From left to right: Melissa Francis and Vivianne White.
MELISSA FRANCIS (Program Manager):

Melissa is the longest standing member of the team, having been part of the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership since September 2012.  Melissa developed an interest in different cultures when she first travelled through East and Southern Africa.  Her passion for supporting newcomers stems from her personal experiences of sponsoring her husband to Canada and experiencing the settlement journey that newcomers face first hand.  Melissa loves yoga, cooking all types of cuisine, and being in the great outdoors whenever she can. 
VIVIANNE WHITE (Project Coordinator):

Vivianne joined the Immigration Partnership staff team in December 2016 after returning to Brockville from Quebec City, Quebec, where she lived and worked for two years.  She developed an interest in cultural diversity issues during her university exchange in the Netherlands, where she lived for ten months and studied international business.  As a born and raised “Brockvillian”, Vivianne is proud to be part of a team that strives to make Leeds and Grenville a more inclusive place for immigrants and refugees.
Immigration Partnership Updates
Community Support Refugee Guide 
A community support guide on ‘How to Sponsor and Welcome Refugees to Leeds and Grenville Communities’ has been developed by the Immigration Partnership team. The guide is intended to provide service providers, refugee sponsorship groups and municipalities with a collection of local and national resources focused on supporting refugees.  The guide has been printed and will be distributed to the refugee sponsorship groups throughout Leeds and Grenville in April.  A copy of the guide has been added to the Leeds & Grenville Immigration Portal and can be downloaded here.
Newcomer Welcome Kit
After several months of research, planning, and design, the Newcomer Welcome Kit is in its final stages of production.  Hard copies of the guide can be requested by contacting Vivianne at vivianne@eecentre.com or at 613-498-2111 ext. 261.  An electronic flip book of the guide will be available on the Leeds and Grenville Immigration Portal, as well as an electronic copy to download. 
Employment & Settlement Working Group
The Employment & Settlement Working group met in February and are currently reflecting on and exploring how to respond to the community challenges identified at the Leeds & Grenville Diversity Day held in October 2016.  The group is planning many exciting initiatives for 2017/18. Stay tuned for more!
IRCC Funding
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has approved funding for the Immigration Partnership Program for the next three years.

Intercultural Competency Training 
On March 6 and 7, 2017, the City of Brockville, St. Lawrence-College and the Immigration Partnership hosted an Intercultural Competency Training at St. Lawrence College in Brockville.
Twenty-five participants from various sectors (municipal, education, refugee support, employment, public health, public libraries, volunteering) came together to learn from Intercultural Competency Specialist and Trainer, Chéla Breckon (The Fraser View Group).  All participants who completed the two day training received a certificate in Intercultural Competency. 
Community Events and Updates
An action-packed event for the entire family, YMCA Healthy Kids Day places special emphasis on how healthy living can be fun and providing families with simple tips and resources to live healthy every day.
When: Sunday April 30, 2017
Where: Brockville and Area YMCA, 345 Park Street, Brockville  
Admission: Free for all ages
Come experience a variety of cultural foods, entertainment, educational booths and crafts, dance and performances. Fun for the whole family!
When: Friday May 5 from 5:30pm – 10:00pm & Saturday May 6, 2017 from 11:30am to 10:00pm.
Where: Brockville Memorial Civic Centre, Magedoma Drive, Brockville (behind the Canadian Tire Store located on Parkedale Ave.)
Admission: Free for children under 5, $4.50 for students & seniors, $5.00 for adults
Brockville and the Thousand Islands are pleased to welcome you back for Doors Open 2017! With 34 sites ranging from museums to art galleries, gardens to churches, and more, there is something for everyone to explore. Grab your friends and family and plan to spend the day or weekend enjoying the stunning views along the St. Lawrence River and getting to know the many beautiful towns of the region – from Prescott to Delta to Mallorytown!
Where: Various locations in Brockville
When: May 27, 2017 – May 28, 2017
Admission: Free for all ages
2017 is the 150th anniversary of Confederation. As Canada's gift to you, the 2017 Discovery Pass will provide free admission for the entire year to Parks Canada places from coast to coast to coast. Find adventure, fun for the whole family or a short break from the everyday. There's never been a better time to make your Parks Canada dream a reality! Start planning your next visit at www.parkscanada.gc.ca/visit.
Need a hand completing your income tax and benefit return? FREE Income Tax Returns for low income filers (Individuals: max $30,000, Couple: max $40,000). Taxes will be completed by a volunteer registered with the CRA/CVITP.
When: Monday to Friday, until May 1st 9:00am to 1:00pm, NO APPOINTMENT NECESSARY
Where: Chipman Centre, 51 King Street East, Level 1 (Lower), Brockville
For any further questions, please call: 613-865-7500
When: Until April 29, 2017
Where: South Grenville Food Bank
If interested, please leave your name: (613)-925-2444 ext. 27 or 1-800-926-0777
In partnership with The Royal Canadian Legion Branch
When: Until April 29, 2017 – Monday, Thursday and Friday BY APPOINTMENT
1-800-926-0777 or call 613-865-7500 ext. 374
Where: CPHC, 345 Herbert St.
Fundraiser to support the Merrickville Bridge to Canada group. 
When: April 8, 2017 at 6:30pm
Where: Merrickville United Church, 100 St. Lawrence Street
Admission: Tickets are $25 available for purchase online here, or at the Wick Witch Candle and Bath Co. in Merrickville.
Join us for our Spring Open House to discover what makes St. Lawrence College right for you and your career goals!
When: Saturday April 8, 2017 from 9:00am – 12:00pm
Where: St. Lawrence College, 2288 Parkdale Avenue, Brockville
Immigration Partnership Committee Member Organizations

These are the organizations that provide leadership to the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership.

Brockville & Area YMCA
Brockville & District Multicultural Council
Chinese & Canadian Heritage Cultural Association
City of Brockville Economic Development
CSE Consulting
Employment + Education Centre
Francophone Immigration Support Network of East Ontario
Fulford Academy
KEYS Job Centre
Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre
Parks Canada
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Foods & Rural Affairs
St. Lawrence College
1000 Island Workforce Development Board
TR Leger Immigrant Services/TR Leger Services aux Immigrants
The Works Events Canada Inc.
United Counties of Leeds Grenville
Upper Canada Leger Centre
Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau
How Can I Get Involved? 

Let us answer with a word that sums up a lot of what we’re about: Welcoming!

There are many ways to get involved with the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership, whether as an organization or as an individual.  You can also request to be on our Immigration Partnership stakeholder list to receive regular program updates.

Please contact Vivianne White, St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership Project Coordinator, for more information. 
Email: vivianne@eecentre.com
613-498-2111 ext. 261
Copyright © 2017
St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
105 Strowger Blvd., P.O. Box 191
Brockville, ON, K6V 5V2


Welcome to the second issue of the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership's Community Colours Newsletter! 
1.     We Are Neighbours Campaign
2.     Council Member Profile: Refugees for Brockville
3.     Employment + Education Centre Launches a New Program
4.     A Message from TR Leger Immigrant Services / Service aux Immigrants
5.     3rd Annual Leeds Grenville Immigrant Entrepreneur Award
6.     Immigration Partnership Updates
7.     Community Updates & Events
7.     In the News

We Are Neighbours Campaign
Diversity has long been a strength of Canada - culturally, socially, politically and economically. What better time to recognize this diversity than the year of Canada's 150th birthday? During the first week of July, the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership will be launching a Campaign called We Are Neighbours’, to celebrate the local diversity of Leeds Grenville residents.  

Each week, until mid-December, we will be sharing stories of local Leeds Grenville residents on our social media pages as well as on the Campaign website.  In the fall, we will be working with local partners to set up various community engagement displays across Leeds Grenville, to encourage community participation in the Campaign.

Through this Campaign, we hope to inspire dialogue and connection among all Leeds Grenville residents by asking people to share information and stories themselves.  People of all ages including long-term residents, newcomers, students, families and business owners will be participating in the Campaign. 

Stay tuned for the first Campaign post on July 5th and be sure to follow along the Campaign on our Facebook page and Campaign website!
Refugees for Brockville
From left to right: Refugee for Brockville Committee members, Mindy Pitre, Ahmad Khadra and Fallon Lobo, selling welcome signs and merchandise at the 36th annual Brockville Multicultural Festival held on May 5 & 6 at the Memorial Centre in Brockville.  For more photos of the festival, click here.
We are pleased to announce that Refugees for Brockville (RFB) has formally joined the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership Council!

Refugees for Brockville was started by City of Brockville Mayor, David Henderson, with the intention of creating one community effort that would optimize resources and maximize results. The first town hall meeting was held in the fall 2015. Dr. Jacqueline Schoemaker Holmes was appointed the new Chair for the Refugees for Brockville (RFB) Steering Committee by the Mayor in December 2016.  

In a recent article by Ron Zajac in the Recorder and Times, the Committee's chairwoman, Jacqueline Schoemaker Holmes, shared that "the local group’s focus will now be on helping with the resettlement and integration of the people it has brought in." 
Jacqueline provided the local media outlet with a great update about the work of Refugees for Brockville just ahead of World Refugee Day.  >> We encourage you to read the full article here!

​ The RFB Committee has produced lawn signs and other merchandise to welcome refugees and other newcomers to the Brockville and Area communities.  The lawn welcome signs feature the message, “No matter where you are from, we are glad you are our neighbour”, in English, French and Arabic.

Signs and other merchandise are available for purchase (by donation) at Kinda Electronics, 176 King St W, Brockville.

Better Together...
Immigration Mentorship Program
Launching as a pilot in August 2017, the Employment + Education Centre, in partnership with the City of Brockville and other immigrant-serving agencies, is developing an innovative immigrant mentoring program called the “Better Together… Immigration Mentorship Program”.   The Brockville model will use best practices from successful newcomer mentoring programs developed in larger urban areas, such as Toronto, London and Kingston, and adapt them to operate in a smaller rural community. The findings of this pilot will be applicable to many smaller, rural communities throughout Southern and Northern Ontario.

The aim of the program is to assist immigrants and their families learn about Canada’s culture, systems and services.  The program will offer a series of free workshops for immigrants to develop English language skills, and increase access to and awareness of a wider spectrum of settlement and integration supports beyond employment. This includes all facets of settlement and integration, encompassing: housing, education, healthcare, legal, finance and employment.

The Better Together… Immigration Mentorship Program will offer a series of workshops for newcomers on a wide variety of topics. Group workshops led by community volunteers will provide newcomers with information on topics such as:
  • Recycling
  • Health related topics
  • Winter guidance
  • Hygiene
  • Legal terminology
  • Banking
  • Income tax support
  • Canadian workplace culture
  • Family law in Canada
  • Public transportation

The program will be hosting its first workshop, “Food Skills for Immigrant Families” at the Memorial Centre community kitchen on July 18th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  Please email taimi@eecentre.com to register or for more information. 

A key element of the program is the involvement of community volunteers to serve as mentors to new immigrants. “Volunteers from St. Lawrence College, the local Health Unit, Brockville Police, as well as several community members, have already demonstrated interest in the program,” says Taimi Antigua Lorenzo, Better Together… Immigration Mentorship Program Coordinator.  Participating in this program as a mentor, is a great way for organizations and community members to learn about culture, make meaningful connections with newcomers, and practice public speaking and listening skills. 
For more information about the program or if you would like to volunteer as a mentor / have any suggestions for workshop topics please contact Taimi Antigua Lorenzo,  Program Coordinator at 613-498-2111 ext. 380 or
TR Leger Immigrant Services /
Services aux Immigrants
TR Leger Immigrant Services and the TR Leger adult ESL class are closed for the summer.  Immigrant Services will resume Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 to 3:30 and Wednesday mornings from 9:00 to 12:00 immediately after Labour Day on September 5th. ESL classes will also start September 5th. Anyone wanting to enroll in ESL in September may contact Julie Case during the last week of August for a language assessment or to register. She may be reached at 613-803-0653 or 613-342-1127 ext. 211 or by email: julia.case@ucdsb.on.ca.

A safe and happy summer to all! 

3rd Annual Leeds Grenville Immigrant Entrepreneur Award
The Immigration Partnership is now accepting nominations for the #rd Annual Leeds Grenville Immigrant Entrepreneur Award. The award recognizes and celebrates the contributions that immigrant entrepreneurs are making across Leeds Grenville. Creating jobs, providing quality products and services, and contributing time to building their communities are only a few benefits that immigrant entrepreneurs bring to the region. 

Award criteria is based on the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur such as perseverance, risk taking, versatility, a high energy level and a strong desire to achieve. Commitment to community involvement is also considered.  Nominees must have been born outside of Canada, live in Leeds Grenville and own/operate a business in Leeds Grenville.

The nomination deadline is September 15, 2017.  The award will be presented at the Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre Bridges to Better Business Conference during Small Business Week in late October. 

Nomination forms can be completed and submitted online here.  They can also be obtained from the Leeds and Grenville Immigration web portal here, or by emailing vivianne@eecentre.com.  
St. Lawrence-Rideau
Immigration Partnership Updates

The updated Newcomers' Welcome Kit was printed at the end of March.  The Newcomers' Welcome Kit is a comprehensive guide book that provides settlement information to Leeds Grenville immigrants. Topics include, buying a house, applying for a SIN number, credential recognition and weather.

Printed copies of the Welcome Kit can be requested by contacting Vivianne at vivianne@eecentre.com or at 613-498-2111 ext. 261.  An electronic flip book of the guide will soon be available on the Leeds and Grenville Immigration Portal, as well as an electronic copy to download. 

On May 31st, member agencies of the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership hosted a 2 hour learning and sharing event at the Brockville Country Club.  The aim of the event was to better support Leeds Grenville refugee sponsorship groups with their role in helping newcomers find work.

The first hour of the event consisted of round table discussions to allow sponsorship groups opportunity to share their experiences with each other, and learn about best job search practices.   The second half of the event was dedicated to presentations from the various employment, settlement and volunteer agencies, and covered topics such as pathways to employment (mentorship, volunteering, informal job opportunities etc.).  
Member agencies involved in the event included: Employment + Education Centre (Brockville,), CSE Consulting (Kemptville), KEYS Job Centre (Gananoque), TR Leger Immigrant Services (Leeds and Grenville), Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau and Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre.  A summary report will be distributed to the sponsorship groups and agencies later this month.  
Community Updates & Events
Learn how to prepare tasty meals using fresh whole foods. Meet new people. Learn to budget, plan meals, save time and money. Have fun in the kitchen, and overall, practice English with native Canadians.  Please contact taimi@eecentre.com for more information. 
When: July 18 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm 
Where: Memorial Centre Kitchen, Brockville, ON
A celebration of Pride in Brockville all week long. Includes cruises, parade on Saturday, pride bowling night, pride pub crawl, and burlesque show. Pride parade on Saturday at noon. Click here for more information.
When: Monday July 10 - Saturday July 15
Where: Brockville, throughout town
We’ve packed a bunch of fun into four fabulous days in beautiful Brockville, in a perfect setting overlooking the glistening waters of the mighty St. Lawrence River. Rails to Trails is a four-day, all ages and all senses festival that celebrates Canada’s heritage, history and so much more. 
When: August 10 - 13
Where: Downtown Brockville
Admission: Free!
Stay connected with Leeds Grenville Economic Development Office with its bi-weekly eNewsletter featuring business profiles, workshops, funding programs and special announcements.  The latest edition features, The Opinicon Dining & Resort, Summer Company entrepreneurs, the funding announcement for the program Twenty/20 Eastern Ontario youth STEM program and upcoming workshops. 

Click here for more information and to subscribe!
In the News

On April 21st, it was announced that Fulford Academy has partnered with BAU Global Education. 

>> Read full article here.  

The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) recently reported enrolment of 178 short-term students and 391 full-semester students at 35 elementary and secondary schools across its jurisdiction this year.

>> Read full article here.

Brockville's refugee support efforts have been recognized in The Economist!

>> Read full article here.


A teenager from Merrickville has made it her mission to raise money and spread awareness about the efforts of Merrickville Bridge to Canada.

>> Read full article here
Member Organizations

These are the organizations that provide leadership to the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership.

Brockville & Area YMCA
Brockville & District Multicultural Council
Chinese & Canadian Heritage Cultural Association
City of Brockville Economic Development
CSE Consulting
Employment + Education Centre
Francophone Immigration Support Network of East Ontario
Fulford Academy
KEYS Job Centre
Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre
Parks Canada
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Foods & Rural Affairs
Refugees for Brockville Commitee
St. Lawrence College
1000 Island Workforce Development Board
TR Leger Immigrant Services/TR Leger Services aux Immigrants
The Works Events Canada Inc.
United Counties of Leeds Grenville
Upper Canada Leger Centre
Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau

Get Involved 
There are many ways to get involved with the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership, whether as an organization or as an individual.  You can also request to be on our Immigration Partnership stakeholder list to receive regular program updates.

Please contact Vivianne White, St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership Project Coordinator, for more information. 

Email: vivianne@eecentre.com
613-498-2111 ext. 261

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Fall Newsletter


  1. Culture Days 2017
  2. Rideau Bridge to Canada: A Community Experience 
  3. International Student Welcome Day
  4. Refugees for Brockville: Newcomer Welcome BBQ/Potluck 
  5. Immigration Partnership Updates
  6. Community: Upcoming Events 


Culture Days 2017 

The Immigration Partnership attended and participated in the Culture Days Celebrations in downtown Brockville on Saturday September 30th. The 'We Are Neighbours' Exhibit was on display and Immigration Partnership staff engaged community members by asking them, "What makes a good neighbour?". The event also served as an opportunity to chat with local residents about our various initiatives and ways the Immigration Partnership can support immigrants, employers, businesses, and community agencies.  

Founded in 2009, Culture Days was established to provide a venue where Canadians could explore and experience all the forms of arts and culture in their communities.
Brockville’s third participation in Culture Days took place this past weekend from Friday September 29 to Sunday October 1.  Open to all forms of art and culture, Culture Days provided a venue – the Downtown Business Improvement Area facilitated the closure of King Street – for everyone from individual artists showing their work and conducting workshops, to organizations with many members.
Last year, Brockville’s Culture Days ranked fifth in the country in terms of activities hosted by a centre with a population of fewer than 50,000 and after this weekend the city might be climbing those rankings.  In the previous two years Culture Days attracted about 2,500 people. Russ Disotell, organizer of Culture Days, said in a Recorder and Times interview, that he didn’t have exact numbers, but believed the crowd was bigger this time around along the King Street hub of the event.

This year, Brockville Culture Days extended its reach into the surrounding communities of Leeds Grenville, with the addition of events in Lyndhurst, Frankville, Mallortytown and Delta. There were 19 venues taking part, including the Brockville Arts Centre, the Brockville Museum, the Lyndhurst Art and Culture Tour and about 100 different vendors and activities for people to check out.


A Community Experience 

Written by Audrey Bridge

For almost two years, Rideau Bridge to Canada worked towards sponsoring a Syrian family. In June, it became a reality. We were matched with a family of six: two girls aged 6 and 15, two boys aged 8 and 13 and their parents. When they arrived at Ottawa Airport, it was an emotional moment for all of us who were there to welcome them.
They arrived to find a very green Canada--they often commented on how green it is here. And the rain, they often commented on the rain.
It has been a very busy summer setting up their home and getting everyone organized. We had an ESL team of volunteers provide private tutoring for the parents. The younger children went to an ESL camp in Brockville and the older children joined ESL summer classes at Fulford Preparatory School in Merrickville. A very active Youth Team organized daily games at Merrickville Community Centre. They also provided bicycles and sports equipment. The boys played organized soccer and their ball skills made them very welcome additions to their teams. Our large team of transportation volunteers has been invaluable. Trips to buy groceries, to play sports, to apply for documents, to attend classes...a lot of driving is needed regularly.
School has now started. Everyone is working hard, particularly at language skills, so that communication is becoming much easier. But even so, thank goodness for Google Translate! The father has started working in a local restaurant—at one stage he owned his own restaurant in Syria—and his skills are already obvious after only a few days in the kitchen. Their lives are settling in to a regular routine. The entire family tells us how much they love Merrickville. I hope they still feel that way in February. Already they tell us that the nights are cold!
From the moment our group was formed, the entire community embraced the idea of sponsoring a family. There have been so many acts of goodwill, big and small. From the donation of a prayer mat by one of the Fulford Prep students to the purchase of a home in Merrickville for the family to rent. Fundraising golf tournaments and benefit dinners have received widespread support--all so worth it. And we are going to do it again! Fundraising efforts continue as we venture to sponsor another family, this time settling in Smiths Falls.
It has been an amazing experience. Watching the community come together to help this lovely family start a new life has changed me forever. I hope every community gets the chance to share this experience.
Audrey Bridge
Rideau Bridge to Canada 


International Student Welcome Day

In partnership with the Aquatarium and the Immigration Partnership, the City of Brockville hosted an International Student Welcome Day event on Tuesday September 19th.  Over 90 students from the Upper Canada District School Board and Fulford Academy came together for an afternoon of fun at the Aquatarium.  The students were greeted by the City of Brockville Mayor David L. Henderson and Melissa Francis, Program Manager of the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership.  After the speeches, students were led by Aquatarium staff and volunteers through an educational activity, followed by a snack and free time to explore the Aquatarium.  


Newcomer Welcome BBQ & Potluck

Refugees for Brockville and the Brockville Muslim Community co-hosted a Newcomer BBQ and Potluck on August 19th to honour both the newcomers and the groups that sponsored them.

As Senior Pastor Kimberly Heath of Wall Street United Church stated in her speech, given the current global climate, what we need now is unity, which means befriending, communicating with, and sharing food with with those who may seem different than you.

For more information on Refugees for Brockville, please visit www.refugees4brockville.com or the Facebook group here


Immigration Partnership Updates

'We Are Neighbours' Exhibit Launch

On September 13th, the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership officially launched its 'We Are Neighbours' Exhibit at the Brockville Public Library, the first venue to host the Exhibit over the next few months.  Immigration Partnership staff were joined at the Library by City of Brockville Mayor David L. Henderson, ‘We Are Neighbours’ Campaign participants, members of the St. Lawrence – Rideau Immigration Partnership Council and staff from the Brockville Public Library and the City of Brockville for a brief ceremony.  We invite you to read the Brockville Recorder & Times coverage of the event here.
Photographed: Campaign participant and guest speaker at the event, Rev.Takouhi Demirdjian-Petro and her husband, Gary Petro. Rev. Takouhi Demirdjian-Petro, who was born and raised in Lebanon in an Armenian family and moved to Canada in the 1980s as a result of Lebanon’s civil war, now has the United Church’s Elgin-Portland Pastoral Charge.
The 'We Are Neighbours' Campaign is an effort by the Immigration Partnership, community partners and local residents to recognize and celebrate the diverse people living in Leeds Grenville communities through the sharing of stories.  

Immigration Partnership staff have been meeting with local individuals to learn more about their stories of moving to and/or living in Leeds Grenville. Weekly posts of these stories and photos started to feature on the Campaign website (www.weareneighbours.weebly.com) and Immigration Partnership Facebook page (www.facebook.com/LGimmigration) at the beginning of July and will continue until December.

The ‘We Are Neighbours’ Exhibit intends to expand the awareness of these stories by offering various public venues the opportunity to showcase a variety of Campaign materials. The Exhibit features a public engagement board that invites people to share their ideas about what makes a good neighbor. The exhibit will travel to six locations throughout Leeds Grenville. Please see the schedule below.

Brockville Public Library
Culture Day Celebrations (Downtown Brockville)
Rideau Lakes Public Libraries
Gananoque Public Library
Gananoque Visitor Centre
Brockville & Area YMCA
North Grenville Public Library
Sept 13 - 29
Sept 30
Oct 2 - Nov 3
Nov 6 - 11
Nov 12 - 17
Nov 18 - 26
Nov 27 - Dec 8
"A little story to tell …. Yesterday when I arrived to the Gananoque Farmer’s Market I was able to greet Ben from 1000 Island Catering by his ‘real’ name.  He was shocked!  He couldn’t believe I knew it and asked how did I know.  I shared with him that I read his story from the ‘We Are Neighbours’ campaign.  Thank you for introducing the campaign to us … I am learning about my neighbours!" 

- Sarah Gibbons, Frankville, ON

3rd Annual Leeds Grenville Immigrant Entrepreneur Award

Nominations have been closed for the 3rd Annual Leeds Grenville Immigrant Entrepreneur Award.  The Employment & Settlement Working Group has reviewed the nominations and the winner has been selected.  The winner will be revealed and presented later this month at the Bridges to Better Business conference hosted by the Leeds Grenville Small Business Entreprese Centre on October 26th. 

New Rack Cards & Banner 

We are excited to share with you all our newest promotional materials! The Immigration Partnership has a newly designed bilingual rack card and banner for use at events, conferences etc. To request copies of the rack card for your organization, please contact Program Manager, Melissa Francis at melissaf@eecentre.com. 

Community Resource Day at St. Lawrence College in Brockville

Vivianne White, Project Coordinator for the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership attended the St. Lawrence College, Brockville Campus, 3rd Annual Community Resource Day on Wednesday September 27th.  Vivianne had the opportunity to chat with students about our programming and share newcomer resources with international students. 


Upcoming Events

Bridges to Better Business

Thursday, Oct 26th, 8:30 to 3:00
The LGSBEC’s Annual Conference featuring education around leadership, featuring Keynote Panel of local businesses sharing their business experiences. Featuring the Leeds Grenville Immigrant Entrepreneur Award. 



Fiddler's Plus & Celtic Combination Fundraiser for Newcomers

Friday, November 3rd, 7:30 pm
A fundraising concert for United Welcome, a sponsorship group that has welcomed six newcomers to Brockville. Admission by donation. All proceeds go to local newcomer refugees.

YMCA Peace Week / Medallions

November 18-25, 2017
Participation, Empathy, Advocacy, Community, Empowerment! That’s what PEACE means to the YMCA. The Brockville Y is looking for both youth and adults who, without any special resources, status, wealth or position, have demonstrated a commitment to building peace within their community or communities elsewhere in the world. >> Click here to download the nomination form!


Member Organizations

These are the organizations that provide leadership to the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership.

Brockville & Area YMCA
Brockville & District Multicultural Council
Chinese & Canadian Heritage Cultural Association
City of Brockville Economic Development
CSE Consulting
Employment + Education Centre
Francophone Immigration Support Network of East Ontario
Fulford Academy
KEYS Job Centre
Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre
Parks Canada
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Foods & Rural Affairs
Refugees for Brockville Commitee
St. Lawrence College
1000 Island Workforce Development Board
TR Leger Immigrant Services/TR Leger Services aux Immigrants
United Counties of Leeds Grenville
Upper Canada Leger Centre
Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau
Contact Us Today To Get Involved!
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