Field trip to Earl Rowe Provincial Park for Newcomers

By Barbora Gomezova, Newcomer Wellness Worker &
Stanley Teo, Library Settlement Partnerships Program Worker

After more than a year of seemingly never-ending ZOOM workshops, our new Canadians finally had the chance to embark on a field trip to Earl Rowe Provincial Park. For many, it was the first time traveling outside the boundaries of Toronto and visiting a Provincial Park.
Prior to the field trip, the participants had to attend a mandatory orientation where they learned about the different park systems in Canada as well as the COVID preventative measures for the entire (reduced capacity, pre-departure COVID questionnaire, mandatory face mask, no food & drinks on board).

On August 30th, the participants were already waiting patiently for the bus before the gathering time of 8:30 AM at the 34 Asquith Avenue pickup point. We did a quick and smooth check-in with the waivers and photo release and before we knew it, we were enroute to the park. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Ontario Parks staff and they provided us with an overview of the history and environment of the park. Our field guide and the Community Programs Coordinator at ParkBus, Juan Pablo Herrera, showed our participants the importance of the vegetation as well as identifying numerous trees and flowers along our hike.

We took a quick break for lunch and the participants were given a variety of options for the rest of the day – some went for another hike, some visited the park store and pampered themselves with some delicious ice-cream, others played beach volleyball, and the rest chose to laze around and relax.
Sadly, before we knew it, it was time to head back to Toronto. Just as when we were about to board the bus, the Ontario Parks staff showed up and distributed a small plush toy souvenir to everyone – and that definitely brought big smiles to the seemingly exhausted participants. What a sweet and beautiful gesture to end our fantastic day with!
Our survey after the trip spoke volumes. In addition to fulfilling all our COVID safety measures, all the participants said they felt safe on the bus AND in the park.
We hope for more future collaborations and bringing more newcomers to Ontario Parks. This trip would not have been possible without the generous support from ParkBus’ NatureLink program and Ontario Parks. 
Here are some of the participants’ feedback on this unforgettable field trip:

  • Thanks all the people who work to do this marvelous experience. Is not my first time in a national park, but it is completely different when you are with a guide like Juan Pablo, he explain us about the plants, ecosystem. You can feel the love and respect he has for the planet. Also Earl Park Staffs were really enthusiastic and kind with us, they made a complete introduction to the park, trails and animals and in the end they have teddy 🧸 for us! That was super nice! Thanks. And of course thanks a lot to Barbora, Stanley and the Volunteers, because of your effort and energy these amazing Trip can be possible. I really wish we can do more trips and the future! Extra points for the giant and delicious ice cream in the park and also for volleyball game!
  • Thank you for this wonderful trip because I can feel more like person welcomed in Canada. All staff was very kind and knowledgeable. I could also develop my English vocabulary as well as respect for such values like indigenous culture, beauty of nature. Thank you for this opportunity. – Kate
  • The organization of the field trip in Earl Rowe Provincial Park was at a high level. I enjoyed this trip. I was safe throughout the field trip – on the bus and in the park.   Thank Parkbus so much for generously sponsoring this trip and for an unforgettable summer day.  Thanks a lot to Juan Pablo lead a walk and shared some information about the nature of Canada. A lot of thanks, the staff of Earl Rowe Park for the presentation of the park. And a lovely surprise gift for everyone. I am grateful CultureLink for the excellent work with newcomers to Canada. Especially, thank Dear Barbora Gomezova,  patient, responsible, fun-energetic and kind to newcomers.
  • This trip was amazing! There was plenty of information about the park and health guidelines, everything was clear from the beginning. It was so nice to see all the people enjoying nature and having fun. I really appreciate all the effort that CultureLink and Parkbus did so we could enjoy this trip for free. I am looking forward to the next trips.
  • The organization was faultless, but the good vibes and the amazing energy of the staff Barbora, Stanley, and Juan Pablo made this experience something unbeatable. Thank you, because you all put their hearts in this and I felt it.