Newcomers to Canada given winter coats to keep them warm through Calgary's winter

Newcomers to Calgary received a warm welcome Thursday in the form of winter coats.

'There’s no way they can compute what -21 C with a windchill factor feels like, so they’re pretty shocked'

A new arrival to Canada receives a winter coat courtesy of Quaker Canada and the Centre for Newcomers. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Newcomers to Calgary received a warm welcome Thursday in the form of a winter coat.

Around 200,000 newcomers arrived in Canada last year, many who have never experienced temperatures below what we would see on a hot summer day.

"There's nothing you can do or say to prepare someone who has spent their whole life in 20 C or 25 C or 30 C weather, and they come here and get hit with -20 C, it's shocking," said David Anthony Hohol, communications manager for the Centre for Newcomers.

The annual campaign between Quaker Canada and the Centre for Newcomers saw 209 coats distributed in Calgary on Thursday — 63 to adults and 146 to children and youths.

"It's not just the coat, it's the sense of, you are welcome here, you are wanted here, you are part of the city," said Hohol.

"That is actually the biggest response you get from people when you do something like this for them."

The Centre for Newcomers in Calgary partnered with Quaker Canada to give winter coats to families who recently moved to Canada. 0:43

A majority of the most recent newcomers to Calgary hail from Eritrea and Ethiopia, said Hohol.

"Many of them are coming from situations that are beyond what we can imagine," he said.

They are told about the cold before arriving, but hearing about winter and experiencing it firsthand are two very different things, said Hohol.

"They know what to expect by what someone told them or what they've read," he said.

"Long story short... they don't know what to expect. There's no way they can compute what -21 C with a windchill factor feels like, so they're pretty shocked."

With files from Monty Kruger