Soulpepper’s Winter Waves Festival – a hit for New Canadian Welcome Program

Newcomer families were thrilled to be a part of the 2nd Soulpepper-CultureLink Welcome Event. It took place on January 2, 2016 at Soulpepper’s Young Centre for the Performing Arts Theatre in the heart of the Distillery District. The Soulpepper artists and technicians put on a fabulous day of entertainment and mingling, just for CultureLink. Fifteen newcomer families joined the festivities for the first time and eight families were welcomed back from the first Event held in May 2015.

With light snacks and coffee to start the day, the families were matched with their Soulpepper mentors and friends and began the day with introductions and socializing. After a warm welcome from, Albert Schultz, Soulpepper’s community-building and visionary Artistic Director, the matches soon were off exploring and the various venues in Youngspace. They enjoyed wonderful performances including:  Virtuosic Toronto– live dance and music with film projections; Wee Concert – a sing-along for the whole family; and Bedtime Stories – songs and poems. The very popular ‘Bubble Wrap’ room saw children and parents alike enjoying the satisfying sounds of popping bubbles as they wandered down the bubble wrap trail. Other interactive features included a Theatre Play Room and The Canopy of Connection where participants could label their home country on a map with a paper streamer and then connect it with their new home in Toronto on another map across the room.

As part of the New Canadian Welcome Program, Soulpepper provides free access to their theatre shows for a full year. With the likes of “Alligator Pie”, “Kim’s Convenience” ,“Parfumerie” and many more entertaining and culturally rich productions, newcomer participants are sure to be pleased. One of our past participants remarked, “I feel like I have won the lottery!”

Viktoriia, a newcomer from Kyrgyzstan with a young family reflected, “Many new Canadians … do not attend cultural events because they are worried about their level of English. When I got a call from the CultureLink and [was] asked whether I have an interest to be a participant of this program, I had doubts. I asked myself, and if I [will] understand the performances in English. I have basic English. But when I came to the theater everything was so well organized and thought out, I stopped doubting. I attended 4 performances. Everything was fine. I realized that I understand English better than before. I even forgot that I do not understand some words. Live emotions оn the stage of your theatre are admirable.”

– by Lisa Randall, Program Manager, Settlement Workers in School Program

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