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Refugee705 celebrates city's diversity during community brunch

Committee members say event is important to connect with larger community

Refugee705 held its ‘celebrating community brunch’ for people from all walks of life in order to celebrate the growing diversity of Sault Ste. Marie.

The event, made possible with help from Ontario’s multicultural community capacity grant program, saw dozens of people line up for a buffet-style breakfast at the Grand Gardens Friday morning.

“It’s been very rewarding, a great experience,” said Refugee705 committee member Dania Kuzbari. “We are all volunteers in Refugee705, we‘re a not-for-profit organization. We feel we are making a difference in the community.”

Kubari, who moved to Canada from her native Syria 10 years ago, says that she’s seen an increase in refugees and newcomers to Canada make a home for themselves over the past three years since Refugee705 took root in the city.

“It’s not easy to go a new place,” said Kubari. “New language, new culture, new lifestyle. The climate can be very challenging, especially in winter. Learning the language takes time, but the more the newcomers learn the language, the easier they can adapt to find jobs, to help their kids in school, to communicate with the people.”

Refugee705 committee member Jane Omollo says that when she first moved to Canada in 2003 from Kenya, there wasn't enough resources for her and her family in order to make a smooth transition. Now, Omollo, who also serves as president of the African Caribbean Canadian of Northern Ontario, dedicates a lot of her time to helping other newcomers.

“When we moved to Canada, we never had any support systems in place that would’ve helped us transition the way we do provide support systems today,” said Omollo. “If I could be able to help a newcomer settle quicker or faster, I always look for opportunities to do that.”

“We now are having a very diverse community here in the Sault, and sometimes people go out and conclude things about other cultures without having the information and knowledge about new cultures.”

Omollo says events like Friday’s brunch is important for the city as a whole, not just for newcomers and refugees.

“It’s imperative for us to connect with the larger community so that we can learn from one another,” she continued. “Cross cultural education and awareness is very important, because through sharing our culture, through sharing our food, through sharing our history, we’ll be able to eliminate some of the stigmas that have been there about new cultures.”

James Hopkin

About the Author: James Hopkin

James Hopkin is a reporter for SooToday based in Sault Ste. Marie
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