Welcoming Canadian Newcomers
Many newcomers to Canada are interested in volunteering. In addition to contributing to their new community, they may see it as a way to improve their language skills or gain work experience. Or they may wish to socialize and meet new people.
To engage new Canadians, organizations must be welcoming and supportive. They should intentionally reach out to newcomers.
Benefits of engaging newcomers
Organizations can grow and become stronger when they apply what they learn about new cultures. At the same time, volunteers gain new skills and experiences. These things can help newcomers settle in to their new environment. And it gives them an opportunity to shape the community in which they live.
The contributions newcomer volunteers make
Roughly 50 % of the population of the GTA was born outside of Canada. Not only does engaging this group widen your potential pool of volunteers, but this huge number of residents can make unique contributions that are a great way to increase the capacity of any non-profit.
- They bring diverse experiences and fresh perspectives
- They reflect our society and our stakeholders
- Working with newcomers can raise cultural awareness amongst both paid staff and volunteers
- They can help strengthen positive relationships with local communitie
One in five Canadians is born outside of Canada. Immigration now accounts for close to 70% of our population growth. Each year, approximately 250,000 people come to Canada as refugees and landed immigrants. They settle in communities around the country, mostly in cities.
The most effective approach to recruitment is to be intentional. These methods were suggested by the group:
- Ask existing volunteers for referrals
- Advertise in educational institutions
- Reach out to settlement workers and Local Immigration Partnerships (LIP)
- Use social media
- Recruit through faith groups
- Advertise through multi-cultural media and events
- Advertise in community centres and neighbourhood coffee shops
- Form partnerships with corporations
A good starting point for engagement is to understand newcomers; motivations and needs. Newcomers may be looking for the following:
- To understand their new home
- To connect with their new community
- To gain Canadian experience
- To learn new skills
- To improve their language skills
- To make social connections and prevent loneliness and isolation
- An added bonus is that volunteering will help them become engaged in society and this builds social capital and social cohesion.
Supporting Newcomer Volunteers
Organizations have a variety of practices to support newcomer volunteers:
- Assessing the language requirements of positions to see what is actually necessary for each task to avoid excluding potential volunteers who don’t speak English fluently
- Matching a newcomer volunteer with an experienced volunteer to provide one-to-one orientation and training
- Creating bridging opportunities for newcomer volunteers to help them participate in core services and leadership opportunities
For organizations: Building Blocks for Engaging Newcomer Volunteers
For newcomer volunteers: Building Blocks for Newcomers Volunteering: A Newcomer’s Guide to Volunteering
If you have a local resource that we can add please contact us.