Grade 11 student
Christ The King Catholic Secondary
A person is considered an immigrant when that individual comes to live permanently in a foreign country. According to the 2011 census by Statistics Canada, this country, which is the second largest country in the world by total area, had a foreign-born population of 6,775,800 and this figure has been increasing ever since. This year, I want to reach out to this population to share my experiences as an immigrant myself. Since 2012, I set myself a goal to raise awareness on how opportunities need to be increased for immigrants young or old. With my youth group of the Peace Welcome Club (PWC), I have been able to create an environment for immigrant youth in my area in giving them a chance to learn more about Canada through volunteering.
I emigrated from Hong Kong with my family in 2002 and it was an extremely drastic change for me. Being only four years old, I urged my parents to take me back to my favourite playground in Hong Kong. At first, my parents simply laughed it off and then had to sit me down to tell me Canada was now home. To top it all off, it was unfortunate that Halloween happened to be on the same night my family and I moved into Brampton, Ontario. This truly made Canada a frightening place for a four-year-old because I kept hearing our doorbell being rung early in the evening. These were some of the challenges that I faced early on but I was happy that my parents moved into Brampton, as I was able to fit into the community as a South Asian immigrant. As I grew up, I really started to appreciate the sacrifice my parents made for my life and I simply cannot thank them enough for making my future better.
I am now a Grade 11 high school student that assists in the community with my youth group (PWC) and promoting community based events appealing to youth. I understand the difficulties of what an immigrant faces as a child but I cannot imagine the difficulty a high school student must have. As I was only four, it was quite easy for me to adapt to speaking, writing and reading one of the official languages of Canada, English. However, the language barrier is evident for immigrants and this results in youth having a hard time in school. The worst of all is ignorant students in schools that make fun of the accents of immigrants and do not realize the negative impact defenseless youth tend to experience. I have advice for youth in these situations and that is to ignore such taunts and let an adult you can trust know about the problem because this is bullying in the form of racism. Another challenge is the weather. Snow can be scary to some youth and this is totally understandable if immigrants have emigrated from a warm climate. My advice is to embrace these harsh winters by coming out of their comfort zone and participating in activities such as skating, skiing and snowboarding.
Last but not least, it is important for immigrants that are young or old to become a part of the community. In order to do this, a person only needs to go out to events held by the town / city for the community and have fun. I find the best way to do this is to volunteer which helps get volunteer hours as a youth in high school and helps the community, and older people get to meet new people. There are recreational services that are offered from around the world and this is the best way to find out about what your community is up to. In fact, my community of Georgetown always has information on the event listings in the Independent & Free Press, which allows for members of the community to sign up. Nowadays, almost everyone has access to the Internet and it has become even easier to find out about community events.
In conclusion, I would like to state that it is indeed a tough time being an immigrant at first, but at least in Canada there are more than 6,775,800 people that I would be willing to bet are in the same situation as you. As Effie Trinket would say, “May the odds ever be in your favour” and it’s bound to happen that at least one person in over 6.7 million people will become a friend. The only reason that is stopping you is motivation to go out in the community to participate and I believe that volunteering is the best way for immigrant youth to make friends as well as create connections with others while having a great time.
HARNOOR Gill is the founder of Peace Welcome Club and lives in Georgetown, Ontario, with his family. He is an enthusiastic and creative student who is currently enrolled in Grade 11 at Christ the King Catholic Secondary School. Some of Harnoor’s hobbies include reading, writing, swimming and occasionally gaming. He is a well-versed young public speaker and enjoys raising awareness on youth-related issues. Harnoor has published over 300 articles to date and these include fields such as protection of the environment, power of social justice, youth issues, travelling, politics and education. He has been a longtime supporter of World Vision and Halton Children’s Aid Society, as he believes that these two groups are extremely passionate about local and global development. Harnoor’s writing has been published in The Indo-Canadian Voice, Asian Journal, Times of India, The Independent & Free Press, and in Amazing Kids! Magazine. He volunteers with many local organizations from time to time and these include Willow Park Ecology Centre, Town of Halton Hills and World Vision. Harnoor maintains a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PeaceWelcomeClub, which is a youth group that he created on his own known as the Peace Welcome Club (PWC). He has also been known to post articles about his past experiences and what he does for the community on various online sites.