Nathan Phillips Square hosts 10th annual Toronto Newcomer Day

May 23, 2024 | Culture, Life

The Toronto sign at Nathan Philips Square was surrounded by white tents and people as the city hosted the 10th annual Toronto Newcomer Day.

Thousands gathered outside City Hall on May 23 to welcome people from far and wide who recently decided to call Toronto home.

Acting manager of the Toronto Newcomer Office, Kecia Richardson said the event is meant to educate newcomers on the city’s services and programs.

“Over 50 per cent of Toronto’s population is born outside Canada newcomers are so important to helping the city thrive and be diverse,” she said.

Richardson said more than 140 vendors at Nathan Phillips Square offered services and information about programs available in Toronto.

Alongside program offerings, she said there were also “cultural performances, we have city tours, neighbourhood tours, there’s lots of workshops, we have indigenous-led activities, there’s henna.”

An estimated 12,000 attendees showed up to the event as Canadian culture and heritage were on full display.

About 12,000 people attended the 10th annual Newcomer Day at Toronto's Nathan Phillips Squad. Canadian culture and heritage were on full display. Photo credit: Brandon Harris

Richardson said the event was meant to welcome newcomers in Toronto as they venture into a new chapter.

“We know the journey can be challenging. It can be overwhelming. So we want to provide them and connect them with as many resources as possible to help them be successful in their journey,” she said.

One attendee and newcomer, Muhammad Sajid, said he came to Nathan Phillips Square to celebrate with the other newcomers and learn more about the city of Toronto.

Sajid said he came here five months ago from Bangladesh to study software engineering and hopefully remain in Canada when he’s done.

“Back in my country, our country is a third-world country, but it’s developing right now. Compared to my country, here I can get a better lifestyle. I can get a better job,” he said.

Almost all of the vendors surrounding the square were there to support new immigrants such as Sajid, who may want to learn about their potential new home.

Gerard Keledjian is the managing director of New Canadians TV, a weekly immigrant-focused television show that helps immigrants adjust to living in Canada.

Keledjian said the show is meant to “help (immigrants) smoothly integrate into Canadian society, learn about settlement programs and services, ace their job search, start their career or small business and build their Canadian success story.”

Members of The Ngoma Ensemble are playing the drums for a performance in Toronto's Newcomer Day event.

Members of The Ngoma Ensemble playing the drums for a performance in Toronto's Newcomer Day event. Photo credit: Brandon Harris

Performances highlighting the city’s diversity included an Indigenous dance by Rosary and Myranda Spence, African drumming by The Ngoma Ensemble, and music by the Nawa Choir, according to the City of Toronto website.

Richardson said the theme for the 10th Newcomer Day was a look back capturing the experience and success of the event over the past decade.

“When we first started in 2015 we saw about 2,000 people. The last two years in 2023 and 2022, we saw about 10,000,” she said. “We’re anticipating 12,000 attendees today.”