Holiday program matching Island and newcomer families moves online

·2 min read

The Holiday Host volunteer program put on by the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada (PEIANC) will change to a more virtual format this year.

For the past 15 years, the program would match up about 20 host families on P.E.I. with newcomer families. The two families would join together for a meal, seasonal activity or party.

It was a way the families could build connections and share during the festive season.

PEIANC decided it could be a challenge this year to have two families meet up so they decided to move the seasonal sharing online.

"I wouldn't say a little different — I would say it is a lot different," said Valerie Fitzpatrick, community connections program co-ordinator with PEIANC.

John Robertson/CBC
John Robertson/CBC

Fitzpatrick said they are looking for people to send in their holiday traditions new and old.

"It's just a way for people to show a little bit about, you know, what's your Christmas tradition and you get to share it, not just with one family but with the whole world virtually," Fitzpatrick said.

She said they will be reaching out to people through the association for other holidays they celebrate and traditions they may have.

"What new Christmas traditions have they adopted since they have been in Canada or what Christmas traditions or other holiday traditions did they do in their home country that maybe they brought with them."

The submitted videos should be between 90 seconds and two minutes. Fitzpatrick said people looking to take part can share the videos with them online or reach out to the co-ordinators.

They will also be posting holiday messages from staff on their social media platforms.

Fitzpatrick said they wanted to do this to encourage people to still try to connect during the pandemic.

"We have volunteers that have taken part with a new family every year in the program so we hope that they look at this as an opportunity instead of another one of those things that we can't do because of COVID," Fitzpatrick said.

"It's something we wouldn't have done otherwise but I think that it is a really neat way to reach out to more people."

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