PEI

Charlottetown Skating Club 'star' of new immigration video

The Charlottetown Skating Club is the "star" of a new immigration video produced by the federal government. The two-and-a-half-minute video is being promoted on social media as part of a campaign called Immigration Matters.

Chinese newcomers helped save skating club in 2015

The club members are enjoying being in the national spotlight. (Submitted by the Charlottetown Skating Club )

The Charlottetown Skating Club is the "star" of a new immigration video produced by the federal government.

The two-and-a-half-minute video is being promoted on social media as part of a campaign called Immigration Matters.

The video was inspired by a CBC story in 2016 about how Chinese immigrants had helped turn around the fortunes of the skating program.

"The numbers were really low, we had reached a point where we needed to do something," said Anne Marie Hennessey, CanSkate co-ordinator for the club.

"One of the club members owned a store in Charlottetown ...  and he approached us on doing a registration at his store."

A film crew from Ottawa spent a day in Charlottetown recreating the story, including that day the fortunes of the skating club turned around.

Interest exploded after the registrations were set up at Topfresh Asian Grocery.

"We didn't have enough forms, we didn't have enough cash to make change," Hennessey said.

"It was more than we had expected."

The CanSkate registration is still full, with 50 skaters on the ice for each session. (Submitted by Charlottetown Skating Club)

Holsen Wei recalls being in the lineup. He and his family moved to P.E.I. in 2015 and he was excited to enrol his daughter in skating.

"I heard skating is very good in Canada," Wei said.

"It turns out the programs are full of the new immigration kids, including my daughter."

Members of the Charlottetown Skating Club celebrate their success. (Submitted by the Charlottetown Skating Club)

Continued success

As the video shows, the success has continued.

Registration in the CanSkate program is still full and some of the skaters have moved to the junior and senior skating programs, or to other ice sports.

Members of the Chinese community have even joined the board of the skating club, a story they're happy to share with other Canadians.

"Everybody's very excited because they're on TV and they'll show the good and the great point of the Charlottetown Skating Club to the whole country," Wei said. 

"It's a good news story about how immigrants are living everyday lives in Canada and how inclusive we are," Hennessey said.

Pam Trainor, left, Holsen Wei and Anne Marie Hennessey are all board members with the Charlottetown Skating Club. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

'It means a lot to us'

The video was launched by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada last week with the hashtag Immigration Matters, promoting the importance of immigrants, especially in small communities. There are five videos in total, as well as a print campaign.

"What we've done as a department in the past is a good job of explaining how Canada is helping newcomers succeed," said Lyne Patry, director of outreach.

"What's different about this initiative is that we're turning that around on its head a little bit and explaining how newcomers are helping Canada succeed and how they're helping grow Canadian communities."

Some of the skaters who joined in 2015 have moved to the junior and senior skating programs, or to other ice sports. (Submitted by Charlottetown Skating Club)

The Charlottetown Skating Club is happy to have its moment in the national spotlight.

"Especially demonstrating the importance of immigration to Canada and it means a lot to us," Wei said.

"It's very exciting, it's not something that was planned," Hennessey said.

"It just happened but sometimes those good news stories are just things that are happening in everyday life."

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About the Author

Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water or in the gym rowing, or walking her dog. Nancy.Russell@cbc.ca

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