It was March 19, 2016 when my friends and I handed the very first welcome pack box to the very first new immigrant who came to meet us at Bakerite in Keewatin Street. It has been two years since that day, and I must say this simple way of “community service” was one of the best part of my 2016.
It was December of 2015 when I first came across Welcome Pack Canada, I decided to post a story about this because I thought it is something interesting for new immigrants. This article became one of my most popular posts until I had a chance to collaborate with the people behind these boxes – – – this is where www.momsiecle.com introduced this newcomer’s kit to Winnipeg new immigrants.
I can still recall how I just reach out to my friends to help me with the distribution as I need help in bringing 30 of the 20 lbs. cases (150 gift boxes) to the distribution area. The first distribution was held at Bakerite, being newly-arrived immigrants themselves, the owners of Bakerite, Manny and Emily Adao instantly said yes when I approached them if I could use their place as the venue for the distribution. The supposedly 2 days distribution was cut short to a 6-hour distribution because all boxes were claimed. And from then on, we distributed the box almost every month and each month, we would distribute 300 to 400 boxes to newcomers in Winnipeg.
Honestly, when I agreed to distribute this gift boxes, I was expecting that it will just be a one-time activity, I did not expect that people will even care if they got a box or not. I was wrong, in fact, every after distribution I will always get comment or private messages in Facebook from people who failed to come to pick up their boxes or other new immigrants or their family asking when will be the next distribution. But the best “take home” for me every after distribution is the opportunity to meet not just my fellow Filipino new immigrants but even those immigrants who immigrated from India, Israel, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Slovakia, Pakistan, Nepal, Ethiopia, Kenya or China. I even met people who were telling me that even before they arrived to Winnipeg, they already know me as “Momsiecle” because they have been following my blog. There were also instances that some of these welcome pack recipients became my online friends, there were those who asked advice or tips regarding their settlement in Winnipeg, I even helped some in preparing their resumes or in finding connections to get a job.
I am also an immigrant. Just like the newcomers that I meet every time we distribute welcome pack, I also travelled the immigrant journey. When my husband and I came to Canada 9 years ago, there was no welcome pack available to new immigrants, I didn’t know how to order a double-double coffee from Tim Hortons. I didn’t know that banks charge the depositors for a monthly fee to keep their chequing account. I didn’t know that buses come by schedule.
“Welcome Pack Canada” program is presented to new comers as a keepsake designed box filled with few gift items and coupons from more than 40 leading brands in Canada with handouts/magazine offering advice and information to newcomers regarding settlement in Canada. It’s all about understanding the mindset of new immigrants and introducing new brands to them.
The box content might not seem much but if you’re starting out, these items are definitely useful. But what I want the newcomers to feel whenever they receive their box is a warm welcome from their new neighbour. Just like when you move into a new neighborhood and your neighbors come by and say hello and “welcome to the neighborhood.” And after which you would feel welcome and will not feel strange because you know you have neighbours to ask help from.
For me and my friends, distributing welcome pack is not a job, it is a “service.” To more than 8,000 new immigrants that we met in the past 24 months, it was our pleasure to personally meet you and to those that we are going to meet in the next distributions, we are looking forward to meet you and tell you, “Welcome to Winnipeg!”