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Centre for Newcomers launching Indigenous Education program

By Mitali Pradhan, December 4 2020—

Since 1988, the Centre for Newcomers (CFN) has focused on welcoming and supporting immigrants and refugees in Calgary.

CFN is a social profit organization and views the integration of newcomers as a two-way process consisting of experience, influence and impact between newcomers and the welcoming community. They envision an inclusive community which has opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds. The organization’s mission is to create a positive difference in the lives of all Calgarians by supporting newcomers and the receiving community in becoming a diverse and united community. This mission is achieved by utilizing services and initiatives that create conditions of success for newcomers and focus on generating a welcoming and inclusive environment in Calgary. These services embody CFN’s values of equality, respect, collaboration, communication, professionalism, caring, diversity and inclusion.

The newest program from CFN is the Indigenous Education for Newcomers (IEFN) program. As the first of its kind in Calgary, this program creates opportunities for newcomers through activities such as dialogue circles and storytelling. Tina Kinnee-Brown, Indigenous Education Coordinator at CFN, and Francis Boakye, Vice President Strategy, stressed the importance of engaging Indigenous participants and newcomer communities in “dialogues on shared histories in order to honour different historical and cultural perspectives to create bridges of understanding and appreciation on both sides.”

The program was inspired by the need to correct misinformation and misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples to newcomers through various sources including the media. Efforts by the CFN are focused on recognizing shared histories, particularly historic trauma and injustice, to increase understanding between Indigenous and newcomer communities.

The CFN Indigenous Education Program Community Dialogue Program began Oct. 16 and is a series of Virtual Dialogues. The program runs monthly, every second Friday, from 1-3 p.m. until Apr. 9, 2021. These dialogues welcome any community member wanting to have a voice in creating educational lessons for newcomers and Indigenous peoples of Canada. The ideas and themes discussed in the community dialogues are utilized to generate a deeper understanding between the communities, challenge stereotypes and also foster relationships in members from different backgrounds. Kinnee-Brown and Boakye stated that the educational ideas brought first will be utilized to help next generations benefit as well as to address and reject the negative narrative that divides Indigenous peoples, Canadians and newcomer populations. 

CFN aims for individuals participating in this opportunity to gain a common base for knowledge which is combined such that groups can come together with mutual understanding of each other. This aligns with their broader aim of fostering kindness and commitment to knowing in the community. 

Video courtesy of CFN Productions/Vimeo.

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