When starting a life in a new country, how do you create a sense of home? In 2006, the Ottawa Catholic School Board founded the Family Welcome Centre, connecting newcomers to Canada with resources and a network.

“Our job is to welcome students and parents, and guide them through the education system,” said Veronica Sanchez, Multicultural Liaison Officer of the Family Welcome Centre. “We refer them to programs available based on their immigration status.”

Students new to Canada, or away from the country for at least six months, are referred to the centre where an ESL teacher meets them and performs an assessment. A recommendation is then sent through to the students’ school with curriculum accommodations to help them best succeed.

On top of that, the centre also helps answer any questions the families have, providing essential information, like where to shop, and connecting them with people throughout the community.

“From the moment the families come, they feel welcome and know someone is going to listen and help them navigate a new community,” said Ms. Sanchez.

Since July 2017, the Family Welcome Centre has assisted 532 students and their families, helping people feel more connected to their community at large.

This is just one way that the Ottawa Catholic School Board is making sure students and their families are connecting to their local community while getting the educational resources they need to thrive.

Show your support for Ontario’s Catholic schools and share this story today.

Together, we are building communities that help newcomers feel comfortable, safe and supported.