Imagine coming to a country where you don’t speak the language and you aren’t familiar with the culture. That is what many of the students in the Newcomer Youth Engagement Program (NYEP) face when they leave their home country to settle in Canada.
The NYEP provides supports to help newcomer youth integrate into their new surroundings, build connections, and feel a sense of belonging in their new community. Over fifty students from seventeen different countries and twenty-eight languages have been part of the NYEP. These youth are not only learning English and about the culture of Canada, but they have been involved in their community by volunteering, working, and engaging in various activities Saskatoon has to offer. Some have transitioned to high school and others obtained employment.
Through the NYEP, youth have learned about the similarities and differences between their culture and other cultures within our diverse community. One project that has helped to reinforce this is the Artist in Communities grant through the Saskatchewan Arts Board. Artist and mentor, Muveddet Al-Katib has shared her passion for art and her personal experience of immigration with the students. Newcomer youth were given the opportunity to share their stories and create symbols from their culture through the universal language of art. By building their knowledge of Indigenous culture, Canadian culture, and other immigrant cultures, they have a greater understanding, respect and appreciation of the many cultures that make up the new community they are a part of. The key to resilience is having a sense of connection to other people and to the community.
Watch for the unveiling of the NYEP mural which showcases the cultural symbols from the newcomer youth and words of resiliency and strength they have demonstrated through their settlement journey.
Special thanks to our funders Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, our partners Saskatoon Public Schools and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, the Saskatchewan Arts Board for the grant, and Muveddet for her flexibility and support in the project!