Taking a significant step toward supporting newcomers to Canada in Surrey, we are delighted to announce the initiation of a partner table focused on physical literacy and quality sport to promote inclusivity. Kabir Hosein, Director of Strategic Initiatives, facilitated the collaboration on September 19 with DiverseCity, starting with Sport for Life’s Engaging Those Who Are New to Canada workshop supported through a Canadian Parks and Recreation Association grant.
Supporting New to Canada Participants in Surrey
Mike Lally, Manager of Employment Training at DiverseCity and convener of the partner table, underscored the need to support newcomers to Canada in Surrey. At the workshop and partner table meeting, he shared that 45% of Surrey’s population comprises newcomers, with 25% identifying as youth refugees.
“The question that I would always be asking is, how are we as a community looking to serve not just the youth population, but the newcomer population? And where are the gaps?” Lally said. “When we look at sports as a vehicle to close that gap, it’s putting that out at the forefront, for many of us service providers to key in on and look at where those natural links are and maximizing resources supports to do that common work.”
About the Collaboration & Partner Table
The partner table aims to identify and bridge service gaps by maximizing resources and expertise through collaboration—an idea sparked from a conversation between Lally and Hosein at last year’s 2024 Sport for Life Summit in Richmond.
“It started with Kabir tapping me on the shoulder and saying, ‘Hi, are you Mike Lally?’ He had heard about a project idea I’m trying, utilizing my sports experience from the youth settlement integration side. That sparked his interest in a sports-related sense, that there are folks trying to do that work but may not have the capacity or the resources to do it, and funding is a part of it,” Lally said.
At the first meeting, representatives from various organizations across the Lower Mainland came to the table, from non-profits to professional sports teams, settlement organizations and more:
- PacificSport Fraser Valley
- RésoSanté C.-B.
- Canada Scores
- Dialogues in Action
- Ismaili Youth Soccer Academy
- Fraser Health
- Surrey Schools
- Sport BC
- Volleyball BC
- Whitecaps FC
- MOSAIC BC
- BC Soccer
“The focus is often on employment, housing, health care, education, food and nutrition, which do not provide a connection to the country they have arrived in.“Sport, both structured and unstructured, provide the opportunity to connect with a community and understand the culture,” Hosein said of New to Canada Participant engagement. “As my elders always say, “It takes a village to raise a child” so the collaborative that has been formed in Surrey would really support those who are new connect and flourish.”
The aim is to create a supportive environment and address newcomers’ challenges by providing essential resources, empowering connections, and building resilient communities.
“DiverseCity is really honing in on the settlement and integration side, making sure folks have supports in terms of areas like kids getting into school, setting up banking, etc. That physical activity, physical literacy, sports kind of realm is not something that we concentrate on. On the flip side, there are organizations offering physical activities but don’t have the resources to support newcomer modifications. So it’s really bridging those gaps between the service providers,” Lally explained.
The Engaging Those Who Are New to Canada workshop goes beyond a one-time event for those in attendance. Having taken Sport for Life’s Welcome to Canada: Engaging New to Canada Participants in Sport and Physical Activity eLearning as part of the meeting’s preparation, the interactive workshop was designed to:
- Facilitate networking: Providing a platform for participants to connect, share experiences and insights, and address challenges collectively.
- Empower connections: The collaboration focuses on building resilient and empowered communities by fostering a sense of belonging and shared purpose. The workshop examined the importance of fostering a partnership so that those who are new feel included.
- Expand knowledge: The workshop describes the difference between overcoming a barrier and dismantling a barrier for those who are new.
- Start an Action Plan: The workshop served as a first step to an attainable action plan for the next steps.
Regarding the long-term vision for the collaboration, Lally envisions people of all ages participating in physical literacy activities in Surrey, using activities to connect with the community and build resilience for New to Canada Participant populations.
“Seeing folks of all age groups participating and using physical literacy or exercise activities as a vehicle to see the newcomer community be embraced—connection, self-esteem, self-confidence, all those pieces of resiliency—built into becoming a part of the fabric of the community, that would be the ultimate outcome because that’s what one feels they truly belong,” Lally said.
He believes that the table will help newcomers feel a sense of belonging as initiatives grow from the collaboration and organizations at the table.
“DiverseCity itself isn’t looking for Sport for Life to fund any of our projects, but more so to work along with us to identify where there’s opportunity to connect. And that’s what Kabir has been; he and Sport for Life have really helped initiate these discussions. We’ve worked together to identify key players that need to be at the table. And there’s just probably more to come, in my view. This is just the starting point.”