On October 24th, we held our Annual General Meeting and celebrated the closing of one year and the opening of another. It was a lovely fall evening, perfect for our program in the theme of Gratitude and New Beginnings.
The evening program reflected the diversity in our community. Musical performances filled the hall with sounds from around the globe when community members of different generations sang to the delight of the audience. The Nai Children’s Choir performed in English, French, and Arabic. The choir also performed with the Spanish-speaking senior group in Spanish, and the Polish senior group sang in Polish. A dance performance brought to the audience a taste of the rich cultures of Central and South America, with program participants from different origins performing local and traditional dances as the audience cheered.
Participants and partners’ talks displayed the variety of different programs at CultureLink and reflected the shared elements across all of them. We heard of the contribution of the LSP program to individual lives as well as to the building of communities. We learned how the Youth Leadership Program, running in partnership with UNHCR Canada, empowers young leaders and equips them to become advocates for their communities. We were interested to hear from Mercer Canada and the origins of their interest in working with CultureLink to break barriers for newcomers in our community, and especially excited to receive their donation of $10,000.
The keynote speaker, J’net Ayayqwayaksheelth, Indigenous Outreach and Learning Coordinator at the ROM, brought another perspective on gratitude and new beginnings. Talking about her personal journey as well as the journey to reconciliation in Canada, J’net highlighted the message that we all find ourselves newcomers at one point in our life or another. Each of us is from somewhere, has a particular history and origin, and we take these with us wherever we go. We would all like to be welcomed as who we are wherever we go and to be seen and understood even when we are the newcomer. J’net encouraged us to look on the bright side of new beginnings, of the potential for growth and positive change. We were extremely grateful to have her with us and to listen to her inspiring words.
As always, the team at CultureLink came together to make this evening a success. Thanks to all who took part in this major effort.