The annual Christmas celebration at Mimico Library, organised by the Library Settlement Partnership program, has become one of the yearly events that people look forward to attending the most. Claudia Montoya, Settlement Worker from CultureLink placed at Mimico Library, sees this event as a good opportunity to build shared memories. Such memories turn into a resource that strengthens the sense of belonging in the community as well as tools that aligns newcomers’ efforts to integrate in their new life in Canada.
Christmas at Mimico hosts over 100 children and their parents; assisting children and their families in the integration process in the new community that they now call home. In that manner, children experience the spirit of Christmas while sharing with their peers and thus there is a noticeable increase in children’s self-esteem. Furthermore, the main goal of this yearly event is to have both children and their parents enjoying an inclusive celebration that they can relate to; as well as to provide the conditions where a cheerful holiday season assists to decrease newcomers’ levels of stress resulting from a new environment.
This event has strengthened the sense of belonging of newcomers who have attended this celebration in the past. Participants have become involved in this event’s planning and development as a legacy to the most recent newcomers that are just beginning their settlement process in Canada. The Christmas celebration at Mimico has the unwavering support of over 30 volunteers. I like to think of them as angels due to their various contributions to this event. In fact, the volunteers play such an important role in making it possible that children and their parents enjoy a healthy lunch while awaiting for the arrival of Santa Claus and gifts. A case in point is Alexandra Agudelo, an artist and a volunteer, who has planned this event’s decoration and she has, in fact, done it for the past 8 years. She adds her personal touch by transforming both the room and the stage into more than just a place full of decoration; rather she allows children to be transported to a wonderland by creating an ambiance full of hope and magic. Due to her skills as a decorator, I have obtained wonderful photographs that transport the viewer into that space and time.
Finally, this celebration would not be possible without community building and creating rapport in order to build healthy communities. Different organizations, entrepreneurs, volunteers and artists have come together and assisted in the making of the yearly Christmas celebration at Mimico. For this reason, members of the community are the backbone of this celebration that aims to integrate newcomers in their new life in Canada. Thank you to all the community members, volunteers, and our team members who were instrumental in making this holiday season special for our newest community members.
Claudia Montoya, Library Settlement Program