The strategies under the public awareness priority area foster a more welcoming Sarnia-Lambton for newcomers and immigrants by:
- Promoting cultural diversity through multi-media campaigns and community events.
- Marketing and promoting the initiatives of the Sarnia-Lambton LIP and of the services and supports available to immigrants and newcomers locally.
- Advocate for immigrants and newcomers to be more visible in the community.
Welcome Diversity Sarnia-Lambton
Welcome Diversity Sarnia-Lambton is a website encouraging the local celebration of cultural diversity. It is also intended to be an educational tool that challenges some of our assumptions about immigrants and newcomers in Sarnia-Lambton. The site includes facts and statistics about immigration in Canada as well as tips and resources on how to celebrate diversity in schools, workplaces and the community.
Artwalk TD Multicultural Village
Since 2013, Artwalk, downtown Sarnia’s annual two-day arts & culture festival has included the Multicultural Village, generously sponsored by TD Bank. The Village is a section of the festival that celebrates and brings awareness to the community’s growing cultural diversity and includes entertainment, food booths and interactive displays by Sarnia’s cultural groups and ethnic businesses.
Multicultural Elementary Games
In September 2012, the Sarnia-Lambton LIP in partnership with the Community Active Living Lambton (CALL) Committee introduced the Sports Day Multicultural Elementary Games to celebrate diversity in sports, introduce local youth to less familiar sports in a non-competitive way and to help them develop fundamental movement skills. The initial event in Sarnia brought over 300 grade 5 & 6 students from 10 Lambton County schools together to try out a series of sport stations including cricket, field hockey, bocce, rugby and lacrosse.
Building on the success of the first event, 3 more events were held in 2013 and 2014, 2 of which were located outside of the city of Sarnia. In total over 1000 students participated in these events from over 25 schools.
Partners on these events now include local municipalities, Lambton Public Health, Lambton College and local sport organizations and cultural groups.
The Sarnia-Lambton LIP has launched a series of events called ‘Cultural Connections’ in which local cultural groups and ethnic restaurants invite the public into their place of worship or business share their culture and customs. To date, the following groups have hosted a Cultural Connections event:
- Sarnia Sikh Society
- Sarnia Hindu Society
- Sarnia Muslim Association
- Kawali Kitchen
- Asia Style Restaurant
Sarnia-Lambton LIP Presentations
Since it began in 2009, the Sarnia-Lambton LIP has had many opportunities to share their purpose and promote the importance of welcoming and supporting immigrants and newcomers into the community. Local presentations have been made to the following organizations and groups:
- Community Homelessness Initiative Network (CHIN)
- County of Lambton Council
- Human Resource Professionals Association (HRPA) of Sarnia-Lambton
- King George Public School
- Lambton County Library Branch Coordinators
- Municipal Councils (all 11 in Lambton County)
- North Lambton Community Health Centre (NLCHC)
- P.E. McGibbon Public School
- Rotary Club of Sarnia
- Sarnia Evangelical Ministerial
- Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Economic Policy Committee
- Sarnia-Lambton Volunteer Coordinator’s Association
- Seaway Kiwanis Club of Sarnia
- STARRting Point Advisory Committee
The Sarnia-Lambton LIP has also presented at a number of conferences:
- Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) Professional Development Conference (June 2012) – “Welcoming Communities: Challenges and Successes in Small Cities”
- Peterborough Partnership Council on Immigrant Integration‘s ‘Together We Prosper’ Conference (November 2013) – “Supporting Immigrants in Rural Lambton County”
- Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA) ‘Measuring What Matters’ Policy and Research Conference (December 2014) – “Measuring Outcomes for Social Services Initiatives: Lessons from the Cheshire Cat“
In addition to these presentations, the Sarnia-Lambton LIP regularly participates in events to raise awareness of immigrant experiences and needs in the community. These events have included:
- Festival of Good Things (2013)
- Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Annual Showcase (2012, 2013, 2014)
- Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Rural Tradeshow (2013)
In 2014, the Sarnia-Lambton LIP partnered with the Sarnia Community Foundation and Grace United Church to bring Democracy Talks to the community. Democracy Talks are facilitated discussions held to encourage community members to become involved in the political process. This is not about one political party, idea, or candidate being endorsed over another, but rather is about getting people engaged in the work of democracy. For immigrants and newcomers unfamiliar with Canada’s political processes, participating in Democracy Talks can help them integrate more fully into the community by having their voices heard.
Democracy Talks is a program of Samara, a national, non-partisan charity, dedicated to reconnecting citizens to politics and increasing civic engagement through a more positive public life.
Democracy Talks sessions are being organized throughout Lambton County from February to May, 2015.