COLUMN: A valuable resource for newcomers to Canada

A Surrey-based group is doing excellent work in assisting newer Canadians to become more fully-engaged citizens and community members.

Surrey-White Rock Community Engagement Society started several years ago and has quickly grown to involve hundreds of people – most of whom are of Chinese background. The organization, originally known as Surrey-White Rock Political Engagement Society, serves as a bridge for people.

They learn more about the Canadian way of life and are able to contrast it with their former countries and ways of doing things.

For people who come from Mainland China, for example, there is no equivalent to the democratic system of elections and dialogue with leaders between elections that we take for granted in Canada.

That was the original mission of the group – to help newer Canadians be able to fully participate in the democratic system. Since that time, its mission has broadened to offer education on how to fully participate in Canadian society.

The approach the society has taken is basically an ongoing course in civics. It is an approach that would work very well with new Canadians who have come here from other parts of the world.

It would help them to find their feet and become fully-participating members of Canadian society more easily.

SWRCES held a Chinese New Year celebration at the Imperial Garden, a South Surrey restaurant, on Jan. 15 (a very snowy night). The weather did not hamper attendance.

The event was held in conjunction with the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce, and it was a great opportunity for members of two distinct groups – the business community and new Canadians – to mingle and better understand one another.

My first knowledge of this group came when I was asked by their leaders to moderate a candidates’ forum in the South Surrey-White Rock federal riding last fall.

It was a new experience for me – to speak and operate in the English language and allow time for translation into the Chinese language. The forum at White Rock Community Centre was very well-attended, and it unquestionably increased voter participation.

The society holds regular forums known as Cornerstone Community Forums, which allows its members to get to know community leaders, put questions to them and fully understand what they say through translation. These have been very successful and continue on a regular basis.

We all know that Canada is a great place to live, and regularly welcome arrivals from all over the globe. Surrey is home to a large number of new Canadians who speak many languages and come from a wide variety of cultures.

Helping them to feel more comfortable in their new homes and participate in the community is a great objective.

Frank Bucholtz writes Wednesdays for Peace Arch News, as well as at frankbucholtz.blogspot.ca – email frank.bucholtz@gmail.com

CanadaColumnImmigration

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

White Rock man says landlord ‘threatened’ tenants for seeking cash after no heat over Christmas

Porte Realty VP says original notice was harsh and quickly replaced

Leap Day birthday for Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society in Surrey and region

For these ‘Angels on Wheels,’ growth in Surrey area ‘has been remarkable’

Wally Oppal says policing ‘too important’ to be left to the police

Oppal was keynote speaker at a Surrey Board of Trade “Hot Topic Dialogue” breakfast event Wednesday

Surrey skater speeds his way to four golds, a silver at BC Winter Games

‘I just really enjoy going fast on the ice,’ says Barnett Liu, 14

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en supporters vow to keep protesting at B.C. legislature

Supporters say they will continue ongoing action to hold government accountable

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Cypress Mountain offers free lift tickets March 13 in honour of snowboarding pioneer

Jake Burton Carpenter invented the sport of snowboarding

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

Most Read

l -->