O'Leary celebrates increasingly diverse residents

·2 min read
Ling Jie Liu's baguazhang demonstration was part of the event in O'Leary. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)
Ling Jie Liu's baguazhang demonstration was part of the event in O'Leary. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)

O'Leary hosted its first multiculturalism day event on Monday.

The event showcased the language, culture and food of western P.E.I. residents who are originally from across Canada and around the world.

"It is really, I think, going to let us feel like a family," said Lihong Ling, who moved to P.E.I. from China with her husband Ling Jie Liu in 2019.

"We'll show many people different cultures of different countries, areas, and we love to be one of person here to share our culture, our experience, with other peoples, and also make new friends here."

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

The couple have a business offering baguazhang martial arts classes and tui na massage, a traditional Chinese medical practice. A demonstration of baguazhang was part of the event.

Andrew Avery, director of recreation for O'Leary, said the population of the town has changed significantly in recent years.

"We have residents now from all over Canada, from many different countries," said Avery.

"To be able to show a little bit of everything that we can, where everybody's from, we just think that's a great highlight of our town now."

'It helps open the door'

The event came together with the assistance of the province's community navigator program, which provides assistance to newcomers in rural P.E.I.  Western P.E.I. community navigator Scott Smith said partnering with municipalities is essential to helping newcomers settle in.

"We can't do this work alone, it really takes a community," said Smith.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

"When we can partner with municipalities, especially in rural areas, it helps open the door for all newcomers and new residents all across P.E.I. to feel welcomed and a part of their communities."

These events not only help people feel welcomed, but contribute to attracting more people to rural parts of the province, he said.

Ruby Lubigan, who moved to P.E.I. in 2011 from the Philippines and became a Canadian citizen in 2018, now serves on the community navigator committee, because she knows how difficult it can be to feel at home in a new country.

"This kind of event that can help us to feel at home, relax, you know, from being away from home," said Lubigan.

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