Vancouverites seem to place more importance on volunteering as a part of being a good citizen than other Canadians, a recent Environics Institute survey suggests.
A group made up of five national organizations — CBC, the Environics Institute, Maytree, The Institute for Canadian Citizenship and the RBC Foundation — commissioned the public opinion poll, which asked over 2,000 Canadians what they think are the characteristics of a good citizen and other questions about citizenship.
The survey indicates 22 per cent of respondents in Vancouver ranked volunteering high on a list of things Canadians should do to help newcomers, compared with 13 per cent on average nationally.
Astarte Sands with MOSAIC, a Vancouver-based non-profit group that helps immigrants, said volunteering can be an important part for newcomers to find their way in Canada.
"When newcomers come here, sometimes for them [volunteering] might be something that people do only if they can't do anything else, so it has a really low status," Sands said.
"It's really exciting to watch them change their attitudes and embracing volunteerism because of course, volunteerism practiced here in Canada is quite different than anywhere else."
MOSAIC's largest programs connect newcomers to more established Canadians as mentors to learn the culture or how to find work.
"It's like the volunteer is saying, 'It's important to me that you're here, it's important to me that you adjust well, that you feel welcome,'" Sands said.
Eleven per cent of Vancouverites also ranked volunteer work as something that makes someone a good citizen, compared to six per cent of respondents nationally.
Thirty-four per cent of Canadians surveyed said volunteering is something they do to feel like a good citizen, the top response nationally, but that number jumped higher in Vancouver at 40 per cent.