Ontario government programs ease newcomers’ anxiety of cultural adaptation

Nov 19, 2021 | News

Toronto is one of the most multicultural urban areas in the world. Each year, the city is chosen as a new home by thousands of people from all over the globe.

Being constantly lost geographically and culturally, added with the daily riddle of “how many layers of clothing should I wear in Toronto today” is enough to shake even the most motivated and energetic of immigrants.

Being involved in cultural or recreational activities is a way for newcomers to make friends and become connected to their new community. The Ontario government offers a wide variety of activities.

For Rejane Verguinini, the Learn How to Skate Program became the most exciting part of her Fridays in Canada. The hotel manager, who arrived in the country from Italy in September, said that this program helps people learn the culture of Toronto and get to know each other.

“It feels good to make new friends from all over the world while experimenting with ice skating,” Verguinini said. “It also helps to relieve stress and is boosting my English skills, since I hardly ever get the chance of speaking English at home.”

The programs offered by the government are not exclusive to immigrants, but they often make up the majority of participants. The diverse and inclusive programs provide activities in art and dance, sports, museums and heritage, LGBTQ+ community, and book clubs.

Weng Loh arrived in Canada at the end of 2017 from South Korea to complete his law studies. He is one of the attendees of the Book Club Program.

“It is nice to feel like I have a hobby again, and I am having fun socializing with people there,” he said.

When it comes to adapting to a new country, each process is an individual case, with different difficulties, although it is unlikely to find someone who says they had no trouble.

Having the chance to meet people who are somehow going through the same experience and challenges has been a relief for Guilherme Verguinini. He is an Italian-Brazilian who enrolled in the Ice Skating Program.

“It’s been therapeutic for me to come here and try to learn how to skate because I feel more comfortable doing that with people who are also experiencing it for the first time,” Verguinini said.

Although most of the programs are offered for free, some of them cost about $60.

The health requirements for registration can be found on the City of Toronto’s website.