Tips for welcoming new comers more effectively
Over the past few years, it’s very likely that you’ve seen new faces in Hawkesbury. This is normal because, since the beginning of the pandemic, many families have chosen to move away from major centres to enjoy more space and tranquillity. We’ll spare you the statistics because that’s not the purpose of this article. But if you’re interested, feel free to do some research on the subject. It’s quite intriguing!
We think it’s wonderful to see this happening in our city. These changes are also playing a role in our region’s economic and social development. So we encourage taking a proactive approach. Here are several ways to help welcome and integrate newcomers, especially people arriving from other countries.
Get to know them
- Reach out to them.
- All you have to do is say Hello! and introduce yourself.
- Take the time to learn their names and how to pronounce them properly.
- Strike up a conversation.
- Opt for public places that are conducive to chatting, like a park, school, sports complex or community centre.
- Be patient when it comes to language barriers. If necessary, speak slowly and use simple words. And if you’re up for it, why not learn a few common phrases in the person’s mother tongue.
- Take time to learn more about their culture. Teach them about yours. Talk about local customs, how neighbours interact and whatever else you can think of.
Help them get settled
- If you see they need assistance or would like some guidance, help them out!
- Use your network of contacts to help them find a job, a place to live or anything else they need.
- Do you work or go to school with a newcomer? Invite them for a coffee or do an activity together to make them feel welcome.
- Help them furnish their home. Advise them on where they can buy quality essentials at a good price. Introduce them to second-hand shopping platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji.
- Put together a group! Something like a book club is a great way for everyone to improve their language skills.
- Help them find their way. If possible, go with them and point them in the right direction. For example, you could accompany them to an appointment.
- Find out what they’re interested in and passionate about. Then do some fun activities together that you think they’ll enjoy.
- New neighbours? Let them know how garbage collection works. You can also tell them about municipal resources, like the sports complex and library.
Help them get settled into the workforce
- If you run a business, consider hiring a newcomer.
- Educate your team members on the critical role you all play in welcoming and integrating new employees, especially those arriving from abroad or from outside the region.
- Create opportunities for all team members to talk about their culture.
- Encourage them to take part in the company’s activities and social life. This is one of the best ways to get to know the person beyond their professional skills.
- Take an open and inclusive approach. The cultural contrast between their country of origin and Eastern Ontario is obviously going to be significant. So it’s important to understand the extent of this difference and to support them in their new reality.
- Try to include the whole family, not just the employee. If this person isn’t single, show your support to all their family members so they can adapt and integrate well into their new city. This can help give them a sense of appreciation and belonging within the company.
Break social taboos and prejudices
- Publicly challenge racist, stereotypical or sexist jokes or generalizations.
- Learn cultural references. For example, thumbs up doesn’t necessarily mean “OK” for everyone! It can be very derogatory to some.
- Learn a new language or common phrases.
- Proudly celebrate your cultural identity while supporting cultural and religious celebrations of other cultures such as Ramadan, Chinese New Year and Ukrainian New Year.
Help your community evolve
- Volunteer with organizations that help newcomers settle and socialize.
- Use social media to help newcomers connect with their host community.
- Help those around you understand the barriers and challenges newcomers face.
- Share information about the local job market and employment possibilities.
- Organize a meeting about diversity and invite a newcomer to speak at your workplace.
- Share the achievements of newcomers in your community, for example in the local newspaper or at your place of worship.
These are just a few examples of many. If you have any other ideas or advice on how to better welcome newcomers to our community, we’d love to hear them!