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Community at Pier 21

Before working at the Museum, I worked for a number of years supporting new immigrant youth and their families as they settled in Canada. There are many programs that aim to support newcomers and it was part of my role to refer clients to programs that may be of value to them. And actually I still do this when a great program crosses my desk! So here’s a program I think everyone should know about!

It’s called the Cultural Access Pass and it provides new Canadians who have received their citizenship within the previous 365 days the chance to discover Canada’s cultural history through free visitation to many museums, art galleries and parks. Currently pass holders and up to four of their dependent children receive a 50% discount on travel with VIA Rail. So if you are a pass holder you could take the train to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Here’s a link for more info:

While working in settlement, one of the struggles I heard about from both parents and youth was the desire to find a sense of community in Canada, a place to belong. And I also heard about parents’ desire to find employment in their field. At the Museum, I am happy to say, that we are able to offer both of these things.

Each year the Museum offers six-month work placements to a group of participants through the TD Welcome Home to Canada Program (WHTC):

The program aims to help new immigrants overcome employment barriers. It is very rewarding to work in a Museum that provides such valuable opportunities for growth. I have supported several WHTC participants during their first Canadian work experiences and it is really enjoyable to support their professional growth.

We often receive visits from past participants of the program. Last year, a past participant came to visit with great news: through the networking opportunities the WHTC program provided, he had been offered a senior position at an internet and telecommunications company. He was very excited to have found a job in his field. Another past participant dropped by to share a photo of her volunteering at a community event with her husband which had been featured in The Chronicle Herald newspaper—a personal Canadian milestone!

A newspaper clipping showing a large group of people.

A former WHTC participant shared this photo of herself and her husband taking part in a community brainstorming session on ways to improve the city’s downtown. The Chronicle Herald, February 2014.

When I started working at the Museum, I was struck by the sense of community created by the large number of active volunteers. From guided tours to public programs, from administration to education programs, volunteers make a difference here. It is clear that Museum volunteers are passionate about the theme of immigration to Canada and they form an integral part of the Pier 21 community. Some have been generously volunteering their time for over a decade.

These are some of the many reasons there is a strong sense of community at Pier 21, a community where I’m happy to belong.