Family fair offers warm welcome for immigrants, refugees, Indigenous people new to Winnipeg

New Winnipeggers are invited to a festival in their honour on Saturday, whether they came from across an ocean or from a Manitoba First Nation.

Newcomer Family Fair will kick off with a citizenship ceremony for 30 new Canadians

Last year's Newcomer Family Fair brought in around 900 participants. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

New Winnipeggers are invited to a festival in their honour on Saturday, whether they came from across an ocean or from a Manitoba First Nation.

The Newcomer Family Fair, which kicked off Saturday morning at 11:30, is designed to make new arrivals to the city feel at home and connect them with services to help them get settled — providing information on everything from how to use city libraries to language classes that are available.

The first fair, held last year, was targeted to Syrian refugees and drew about 900 people. This year, organizers opened it up to other newcomers to Winnipeg.

"The fair is mainly to provide … a warm welcome to all newcomers that come to the city, both immigrants and refugees that are coming to the city, as well as Indigenous newcomers who are moving into the city," said organizer Abdi Ahmed.

Ahmed is the executive director of Immigration Partnership Winnipeg and a member of the city's Social Planning Council. He said Indigenous people and new Canadians face similar challenges when they arrive in Winnipeg for the first time.

Better access, better outcomes

The fair is a joint project between Immigration Partnership Winnipeg and the city's Citizen Equity Committee.

Coun. Cindy Gilroy, who chairs the committee, said the city offers good services for newcomers, but could do a better job at making sure people know how to access them. Events like the fair are part of that effort, she said.

"We know that if we can get everybody into one place and be able to get those services directly to them — to get what's going on in Winnipeg, how do you access those services — the better outcomes I think we're going to have," she said.

Around 45 different groups and service providers are on the list to set up booths at the event and spread the word about what they offer.

The fair will begin with a citizenship ceremony for 30 new Canadians.

It runs from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Freight House at 200 Isabel St.

With files from CBC Manitoba's Weekend Morning Show