Canadian-Polish Support for Newcomers
Image 5.1. The Polish Festival in Roncesvalles is held every year to celebrate Polish culture through music, entertainment and cuisine.
Being Part of the Solidarity Wave to Canada
Like Grażyna, many of the members in this community would have either been part of the Solidarity Wave during the 1980s, or were already established in Canada and chose to support this newer wave of immigrants who escaped communist Poland. Grażyna would have received active support by forging bonds with community members who shared the same experience of traveling and relocating under the same conditions and specific historical context. These shared values and unified experiences helped to create a sense of belonging and a community support network.
A Helping Hand: Canadian-Polish Support for Newcomers
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Canada offered support for incoming migrants. This support consisted of language classes and assistance in finding housing and work. Help came from interpreters, counsellors, as well as various agencies and community groups, such as Polish Immigrant Aid Services-Toronto and Polish Community Social Services.
Various Polish organizations across Canada also sponsored thousands of applicants to immigrate to Canada during this time and assisted Polish newcomers in adapting to Canadian society. For example, both the Polish Alliance of Canada (PAC) and the Association of Polish Engineers in Canada helped newcomers access economic opportunities. They also help new migrants retain ties to Polish culture by playing a vital role in helping Canada recognize the contributions that Polish newcomers make to the country.
“We met other people, but we moved very quickly from that hotel…”
The recent arrival of Syrians to Toronto has reignited an interest and conversation around sponsorship. In partnership with government, how can communities rally to build support networks for newcomers?
In the absence of government support, how can community-based support networks and services support settlement?
What are community-based services available to newcomers and refugees in your area?
When an organization or individual guarantees financial and emotional support to refugees for the duration of their sponsorship. This may include support in the form of housing, clothing and food. (Government of Canada, 2014).
A Canadian government policy that acknowledges and promotes the cultural and racial diversity of Canadian society, and recognizes the rights of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage (Government of Canada, 1985).