Welcome to the Concept Collection: five concepts to add colour and vibrancy to the newcomer experience. Since November, thanks to innovation funding from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), InWithForward, Options Community Services and North York Community House have been on-the-ground in Surrey, B.C. and North York, Ontario, collecting the stories of older and disabled newcomers, Arabic-speaking men, and Filipino families.
From these stories, we spotted an overarching and under-researched theme: the emotional journey. Services place a lot of focus on the practical journey: learning English, sorting out paperwork, finding a house, getting a job. The emotional undercurrents of resettling in a new land can get pushed to the side, or relegated to the “mental health” space. But mental health didn’t resonate so much with the newcomers we spent time with: questions of identity and relationships aren’t problems to be labeled and treated so much as fundamental realities to acknowledge and validate.
There’s social pressure to adopt the dominant newcomer narrative: that of appreciation for Canada. There’s little space to feel: to make sense of the mixture of sadness, relief, disappointment, anticipation and fear that accompanies the loss of an old and the start of a new life. Taking time to feel, and to redefine your relationship to self and place, is pretty key to flourishing. Newcomers spoke of life in Canada being safe, but in shades of gray. Life felt muted. So we’ve set our sights on bringing more vibrancy and colour into the newcomer experience — so that we can enable newcomers to not just survive, but thrive.
The 5 Concepts
Here are five early concepts for how we might shape the newcomer experience: opening-up the feeling space, building confidence and competence to explore self and place, and increasing connections and belonging in our neighborhoods.
Store For More
Inspiring information when you need it, where you need it.
Information & resources packaged by newcomers for newcomers about everything from “firsts” in Canada to common frustrations to humor for hard times. Distributed in the places newcomers are already in: grocery stores, bakeries, and hairdressers.
Search for feelings
An online platform for newcomers to find, make and share feelings of their Canadian journey; the ups, downs, and everything in-between.
Roles for newcomers to share their culture and shape services
Multicultural training and design for businesses and organizations by teams of newcomers. Newcomers from across cultures help take spaces from sterile & clinical to comforting & inclusive.
Community connections, at your fingertips.
A cohort of tech-savvy youth who provide personalized, in-home coaching for newcomers on how to use free phone apps for things like translation, navigation, and doing business. Missions help amp up the adventure, bust barriers, and build new relationships in the community.
Small social events for you to host or attend.
Tools and free resources to host neighbourhood get-togethers and try out home businesses while practicing fit-for-purpose English.
How you can get involved?
Concepts can only have impact if they are taken forward — and we certainly can’t do that alone. We’d love to collaborate …
- Send us your thoughts. Which of these concepts resonates most with you? What else is out there that is similar? What should we learn from?
- Host a co-design session. We’d love to test our five concept boxes with Arabic-speaking newcomers, Filipino families, and interested community members. Know of a family or a group we could come co-design with? We’d love to plan a session.
- Connect us. Got suggestions on important stakeholders (funders, leaders, etc.) we should be meeting with? To pull off any of these ideas, we need to build relationships inside and outside of the settlement sector, getting to know businesses, funders and community groups with shared interests. Broker an introduction!