Last year Bienvenue à Notre-Dame-de-Grâce helped 400 new immigrant families fit into the NDG community.
It helped newcomers by familiarizing them with community services, having them participate in community events, and teaching them the nuts and bolts of life in Quebec and NDG.
The local non-profit organization hopes to help even more families in the near future by increasing its outreach efforts, thanks to the $66,000 in funding it recently received from the provincial government.
Director Miguel Cristancho said the money is a result of four years of involvement in the community.
“We’ve been working towards the integration of families in NDG since 2009,” he said.
The organization was created in partnership with the Comité Action 6-12, the NDG Youth Table, the Commission scolaire de Montréal and the NDG Community Council.
“This community wants to have a model of integration. It wants to have a network in place to provide services from the community to newcomers, to new immigrants,” said Cristancho.
Already present with kiosks in certain schools across NDG, Cristancho would like the organization to become omnipresent throughout the entire community.
“We want to be more in touch and more visible for families, inviting them to meet others who are in the same situation,” he said.
Cristancho says many immigrant families become almost instantly isolated because of the language barriers present when they arrive in NDG.
“We want to eliminate that and create a network where language is not an issue,” he said.
He also wants to reach out to those families by integrating them into some of the already very strong communities present in the borough.
“There’s a strong Russian community here, a Chinese community, Iranian and Latin-American communities – it’s important that newcomers know about these,” he said.
Families are treated on an individual basis, with an action plan drawn up for each one after a series of meetings.
Cristancho says every family has dreams when it arrives in Canada, and he hopes Bienvenue à Notre-Dame-de-Grâce can act as a middleman to help them reach their goals.
The new funding will play a big part in making that a possibility, as in the past the organization lacked some of the resources necessary to complete each specific action plan for families.
According to the CDN-NDG Corporation de développement économique communautaire (CDEC), at the time of the last census, “48 per cent of the population had moved in the five previous years, with 35 per cent having moved from another country.”
On top of that “15 per cent of the borough population arrived in Canada between 2001 and 2006 and 21 per cent are not legally recognized as Canadian citizens.”
Stats like these are what fuel Cristancho to keep moving forward with the organization.
“There’s a very big need here for a service like this one, and it’s a need that’s becoming more and more present.”