Getting through a Canadian winter can be hard sometimes, and for those who have never experienced snow and frigid temperatures before, it can seem extremely daunting.
However, if you had a local friend to go out sledding with, experience Winterlude and Beavertails with, or just simply get you out of your home, winter can seem less intimidating.
OCISO’s Peer Support and Friends of the Family programs match newcomers to local volunteers who will help with their social integration. Through friendship and shared experiences, newcomers can experience Canadian culture and favourite seasonal past-times with their peers as they discover more about their new city, Ottawa. The programs hold monthly events which enables everyone to get together, socialize and perhaps try something that is new to them.
In January we partnered with Nakkertok Ski Club who welcomed us with warm arms to try out cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing. It was a smashing event with over 100 participants, many of whom have never been on skis or snow-shoes before.
Making s’mores over the campfire, followed by a delicious potluck and hot chocolate made it the quintessential Canadian experience for everyone.
For February’s monthly event, we participated in the yearly Harbour Harvest ice-fishing event, organized by Drop In Sports, which had over 400 participants throughout the day. For many newcomer families (and Canadian volunteers), ice-fishing was a first.
Despite record snowfall and some challenging conditions the week leading up to the event, the ice was cleared and holes were drilled thanks to the hard work of many dedicated volunteers. Everyone had a great time and some were lucky enough to catch a fish!
This year, the Friends of the Family program was one of three lucky recipients to receive funds, and over $800 was collected. We can’t wait to participate again next year!
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer Peer for a newcomer, please get in touch with Bonnie Thornington at firstname.lastname@example.org.