Special Valentines aim to connect Saint John newcomers to the city

A Saint John marketing agency has printed hundreds of postcards, just in time for Valentine’s Day, with the goal of connecting locals with the city’s newest residents.

Marketing agency has put out hundreds of cards, encouraging locals to become pen-pals with newcomers

Sarah Martin from the Duke Creative Collective in Saint John says the goal of the valentine postcards is to create connections between longtime residents and newcomers. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

A Saint John marketing agency has printed hundreds of postcards, just in time for Valentine's Day, with the goal of connecting locals with the city's newest residents.

Inspired by a story about a Syrian newcomer, the Duke Creative Collective approached the local YMCA to find a way to make newcomers feel more welcome.

The duo decided the best way to break down barriers was as simple as finding a pen pal.

"Sometimes it can be isolating when you move to a new place and there's a language barrier," said Sarah Martin, who works at the Duke Creative Collective.

"I think that there's a lot of people in Saint John that want to welcome and they want to help," said Martin. "But they didn't really have an avenue to do so."

The agency has printed hundreds of Valentine's Day-themed cards, which give Saint Johners a chance to tell newcomers about themselves and the city.

The cards can be filled out at the Feel Good Shop or the Duke Creative Collective until the 13th. Then they will be used for an English-language workshop with newcomers. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

The cards can be picked up and dropped off at the Feel Good Store by Tuesday, the day before Valentine's Day.

The next day, Martin said, the cards will be used for a workshop at the Newcomer Connection's English-language class. The students there will be encouraged to write back to their pen-pals.

"Our hope going forward is people stay in touch and make a connection," Martin said.

So far, Anne McShane at the Feel Good Store said the cards have been a hit.

"This week we've had a lot of teachers come in to pick them up to do them with classrooms full of students," she said.

McShane said she's been moved by some of the messages people are writing on them. One, written by a woman who moved to the area from Trinidad more than 50 years ago, stood out for her.

"She said, 'You've made such an amazing and brave choice for your family,'" McShane said. "It was so nice."

Anne McShane says teachers have been picking up the cards for their students. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

She decided to fill out a card herself, pointing newcomers in the direction of her favourite local attractions such as Fort Howe and Tucker Park.

But Martin proved the messages don't have to be exclusive to local geography.

"I talked about candy," she said with a laugh. "The good deals you can get on Valentine's Day candy after Valentine's Day."

About the Author

Matthew Bingley

Reporter

Matthew Bingley is a CBC reporter based in Saint John.