Thousands Welcome to Toronto Newcomer Day

In the shadow of Toronto City Hall, thousands of new Torontonians were warmly welcomed to the city.

“Toronto has been like a home away from my situation,” Ali Kaviri told CTV News Toronto. Kaviri is a youth rights activist who left Uganda just two months ago to start a new life in Toronto.

“It was a little difficult,” Kaviri said, “but I want to say that today I feel so welcomed by Canada. I can get the spirit of Canadian hospitality that I have been so blown away by.”

More than 100 exhibitors attended the 8th annual “Toronto Newcomer Day” Wednesday. The thousands of attendees received information on everything from housing support to education and career training.

Roya Madomi and her friends hoped they could learn the best ways to regain the careers they left behind in Afghanistan some seven months ago.

“I want to improve my English,” said Madomi. “and I want to be a journalist here, if it’s possible!”

Each story in the crowd was unique, as were the journeys of those in attendance.

Yevheniia Shablova and her mother were exploring the event, they fled Ukraine barely a month ago and are still adjusting to their new home.

“There are a lot of people,” Shablova said, when asked about her first impressions of Toronto. “Great architecture and the people are very nice and so polite, so I definitely love this city.”

According to City of Toronto officials, between 80,000 and 100,000 new Toronto permanent residents make their home each year.

†[Fifty per cent] of our population were not born in Canada,” said Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão, speaking of her own trip to Canada and Toronto.

“Every day we know that there are people arriving in this city and we have to welcome them and we have to make sure they have all the information they need to succeed and see all the opportunities this city has to offer them.”

The event organizers hope it can be a jumping off point for those starting a new life in Toronto.

“There are more than 200 settlement offices in Toronto and many more community offices that provide a range of services,” Vera Dodic, the manager of the Toronto newcomers office, told CTV News Toronto.

“From housing support to settlement support and language training to many others. There are networks of people to help newcomers integrate and settle in better and find their own way here.”

As for what she wanted attendees to bring from the event, Dodic said a sense of community was key.

“I want them to feel a little more at home. I want them to feel like they belong. I want them to feel like they’re part of the city and they have the resources they need to settle and achieve whatever goals they have for their lives here in Canada.”

After speaking to many of the exhibitors, Kaviri left with an armful of information, pamphlets and brochures – all meant to help him get the best start as he settles into his new home.

“Toronto actually gives you so many opportunities, but also this great mix of so many people from all walks of life who have settled here and this is the place they call home.”

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