Since June, the Peel District School Board has welcomed more than 2,000 newcomer students from around the world through its We Welcome the World Centres located in Mississauga, Brampton and Malton. The centres support the needs of newcomers settling in Peel by providing an orientation about life in Canada with a focus on Ontario’s education system.
“Transitioning to school can be challenging for many families as they must learn about, and adjust to, the education system in Ontario,” says Louise Clayton, centre coordinator. “To ensure the needs of our newcomer families are met, our centres – through our multilingual staff, school settlement response workers and resource teachers – provide information, support and guidance so that students and families can make a smooth transition in a warm and welcoming environment.”
Upon arriving at the centres, students are registered for school and undergo evaluations in both English and mathematics. A settlement needs assessment is also conducted to determine what services and resources families may require to support their integration into school and the community. In addition to receiving helpful school information for their children, parents have access to resources about adult education, childcare, community centres, housing, medical/dental assistance and employment. Families may also use computers with Internet access free of charge while at the centres.
“Getting our children into school was one of our first priorities,” says Ayham Tasabhji, who moved to Canada from Syria with her family in July. “I’m very grateful to the Welcome Centres for all the support I’ve received and I’m overwhelmed by the helpful nature of Canadians. This has been a wonderful experience.”
Funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the centres offer numerous joint and group training opportunities for students and families, including the World of Welcome orientation. The program was offered from Aug.28 to Sept.14 and provided an orientation to more than 400 high school students and families new to Peel. Students participated in group activities that allowed them to explore the school, make new friends and learn about the various services and programs available to them.
We Welcome the World Centres are open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for registration and assessments. For more information, visit peelschools.org/register or call 905-366-8791.
Image: Ayham and Bayan Tasabhji and their four children visit a We Welcome the World Centre. The family came to Peel Region in July from Syria.