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Lauren: The Need for Kindness and Empathy

Updated: May 31, 2022

1. How did you get involved with newcomers?

I became involved with newcomers to the area when I started as the Projects Coordinator here at the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership. From there, I joined the Refugees for Brockville Committee as well. However, I’ve been working with visitors from abroad for years (through Canadian Aid for Chernobyl, my own French exchanges during high school, and the friends from around the world I’ve met).

2. What have you learned from the experience(s)?

I’ve learned how difficult it can be for newcomers to get settled. How, despite having all the education and experience, they have to go back to school or work in, sometimes, a completely unrelated field as their degree and experience isn’t recognized. It’s a shame in for both our newcomers and Canada as a whole.

3. What do you think makes a good community ally to newcomers?

I think being able to listen, and really being empathetic can make you a good community ally. Looking at things from the perspective of newcomers as much as you can, so that you can offer support and kindness. Many people struggle when they first arrive, and some are too proud to show it. Taking that into account and being able to help in a way that is cognizant of everyone’s feelings is the best course in my opinion.

4. What impact do you think newcomers have had on the region/Canada?

I find we’re getting more diversity in the area. Not just in those from different countries, but in those who come from different ways of life. I’ve noticed in the last few years especially, we’ve had more cultural restaurants appear, and have seen more celebrations based on cultures outside of the Anglo-Saxon tradition that has been dominant in the area for a long while.

5. Is there anything you’d change about Leeds and Grenville?

I wish more people would take the time to really get to know the newcomers, not simply parroting whatever conspiracy theory, or extreme rant they’ve found online. I’ve heard too many complain about immigration and immigrants when the points they’re complaining about are 100% untrue.

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