BROCKVILLE – The St. Lawrence – Rideau Immigration Partnership officially launched its ‘We Are Neighbours’ Exhibit at the Brockville Public Library on Wednesday September 13th, the first venue to host the Exhibit over the next few months.
Immigration Partnership staff were joined at the Library by City of Brockville Mayor David L. Henderson, ‘We Are Neighbours’ Campaign participants, members of the St. Lawrence – Rideau Immigration Partnership Council and staff from the Brockville Public Library and the City of Brockville for a brief ceremony.
The ‘We Are Neighbours’ Campaign is an effort by the Immigration Partnership, community partners and local residents to recognize and celebrate the diverse people living in Leeds Grenville communities through the sharing of stories. The concept was born from community feedback that was presented to the Immigration Partnership. Individuals and organizations from Leeds Grenville identified the need for communities to recognize and celebrate the diversity of their residents in order to enhance the sense of belonging for people of all cultures and backgrounds.
Immigration Partnership staff have been meeting with local individuals to learn more about their stories of moving to and/or living in Leeds Grenville. Weekly posts of these stories and photos started to feature on the Campaign website (www.weareneighbours.weebly.com) and Immigration Partnership Facebook page (www.facebook.com/LGimmigration) at the beginning of July and will continue until December.
The event began with some background into the ‘We Are Neighbours’ Campaign being provided by St. Lawrence – Rideau Immigration Partnership Program Manager, Melissa Francis. She noted the importance of community support and involvement in the initiative and thanked individuals from across Leeds Grenville who have participated to date.
Mayor Henderson, while praising the work of the Immigration Partnership in helping to create welcoming communities, emphasized the importance of welcoming immigrants to local communities; ‘Newcomers bring ideas, conversation and skills.’
Two participants from the ‘We Are Neighbours’ Campaign were present to speak about supporting the ‘We Are Neighbours’ Campaign and moving to Leeds Grenville. Rev. Takouhi Demirdjian-Petro, whose journey to Canada began in 1983 when she was forced to leave her home country of Lebanon because of civil unrest, spoke about the importance of the ‘We Are Neighbours’ Campaign, to her: “As human beings we carry the collective responsibility of working together and helping each other. No one can live alone in a bubble. Therefore, with this principle embedded in me and the experience of having received so much help and guidance from others throughout my life’s journey, I cannot keep silent and not be part of this important campaign. Moreover, I do believe that we love our neighbours as much as we love ourselves.”
Ben Mukhurjee, originally from India, now residing and owning a business in the Gananoque area, spoke about the power one has, despite challenges, to become a good neighbour; ‘When I was first opening my business in Gananoque, it was not easy. But I learned quickly that everything, from simply saying hello to the way we interact with others, is in our control. I too, am someone’s neighbour.’ He continued by saying that, ‘We need to start by looking at ourselves first.’
The ‘We Are Neighbours’ Exhibit intends to expand the awareness of these stories by offering various public venues the opportunity to showcase a variety of Campaign materials. The Exhibit features a public engagement board that invites people to share their ideas about what makes a good neighbor. In addition to the Brockville Public Library, the exhibit will travel to six locations throughout Leeds Grenville – Brockville Culture Days, the North Grenville Public Library, various Rideau Lakes Public Libraries, Gananoque Public Library, Brockville & Area YMCA and the Gananoque Visitor Centre.
For ongoing information about the ‘We Are Neighbours’ Campaign and Exhibit schedule, please visit www.weareneighbours.weebly.com .
The St. Lawrence – Rideau Immigration Partnership is a coalition of organizations committed to building local capacity to attract, settle and integrate immigrants throughout Leeds Grenville. The Immigration Partnership is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.