Hamilton plans big welcome for new residents with first-ever Newcomer Day

When it comes to celebrating culture, diversity and new residents, Hamilton has no intention of being left behind. The city, which has a proud history of “attracting immigrants,” will be celebrating them at the first-ever Hamilton Newcomer Day on July 27.

We want ‘to show newcomers that they are welcome in our community,’ organizer said

Mohamed Nasr has been living in Hamilton for two months. He said the celebration will be good for newcomers. (Submitted)

When it comes to celebrating culture, diversity and new residents, Hamilton has no intention of being left behind.  The city, which has a proud history of "attracting immigrants," will be celebrating them at the first-ever Hamilton Newcomer Day on July 27.

Sarah Wayland, senior project manager for the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council, said Hamilton always wanted the follow Toronto, which commenced their newcomer day celebrations four years ago, but the stars have only now aligned.

"The city of Hamilton has been interested in attracting immigrants for many years. We know that Hamilton is a city that was built on immigration," Wayland told CBC.

"It was really important to our past and it continues to be important to the present and also to our future growth. We want to take note of that in a wide public setting and also to celebrate that, to highlight the importance of citizenship and to show newcomers that they are welcome in our community."

Wayland said they hope to attract at least 1,000 people for the celebration. The event will run from noon to 6 p.m. at city hall.

All we can do is make ourselves more attractive and to showcase opportunities in our city, to show why Hamilton is a great place to live.- Sarah  Wayland

Organizers also hope to use the occasion to raise awareness about citizenship, and to share information with newcomers about city services and other resources.

"There will be a lot of games and activities for families to enjoy — story telling, entertainment and also food," Wayland said.

"There will be a citizenship ceremony for 40 new Canadians who live in Hamilton who will be taking the oath of Canadian citizenship. There will be services around housing, finding employment and language classes, and workshops on topics like how to sponsor someone to come to Canada, housing rights, financial wellness."

'A resource rich community'

Wayland said Hamilton is "a resource rich community," and the celebration will shine a spotlight on it.

"All we can do is make ourselves more attractive and to showcase opportunities in our city, to show why Hamilton is a great place to live, that we have a lot of amenities and we would encourage people to come."

Newcomers Aref Alshaikhahmed and Mohamed Nasr both agree that Hamilton is a great place to live.

This celebration is very good to say welcome to newcomers.- Mohamed  Nasr

Alshaikhahmed has been living in Hamilton since moving from Syria in December 2016.

He said he has fallen in love with Hamilton. He is looking forward to the newcomer day celebration.

Feeling shy in a new country

"The newcomers need to be integrated in their community [and feel like] they are part of the city," he told CBC.

"They need not to feel as a foreigner here because this is a transitional period, and [during] this period, it is very important to work on the integration of the newcomers in the community and society."

Aref Alshaikhahmed has been living in Hamilton since moving from Syria to Canada in December 2016. (Aref Alshaikhahmed)

Nasr moved to Canada two months ago. He too said the celebration will be good for newcomers.

"Anybody moving to Canada as a newcomer like me may be shy, may be scared from living in a new country," he said.

"This celebration is very good to say welcome to newcomers," added Nasr, who said Hamilton is the ideal place, especially for people like him who prefer a less-crowded city.

About the Author

Desmond Brown

Journalist

Desmond Brown is a writer/editor with CBC News. He's worked with the digital unit at CBC Toronto and Hamilton. Contact him at: desmond.brown@cbc.ca