SUMMERSIDE – Samuel Niyonzima knows what it’s like for newcomers trying to fit in to a new Island community.
The 19-year-old first immigrated to P.E.I. from Burundi, Africa, 10 years ago. Samuel began the process of learning French at his new school, Ecole Evangeline in Abram-Village.
“It was pretty easy because we had a lot of help from all the people in the community and people from school,” he said.
“We had private classes for English and French. Once we were better, it was easier for us to fit in because we could express ourselves.”
This week, Coopérative d'intégration francophone de P.E.I. (CIFÎPÉ) is participating in the first Francophone Immigration Week in Atlantic Canada. This awareness week, an initiative of the Société Nationale de l'Acadie, aims to encourage the integration of francophone immigrants and targets all communities in the Atlantic provinces.
To accompany the celebrations planned throughout Atlantic Canada, the CIFÎPÉ have announced various activities organized across the province during the week
Tuesday at École Évangéline, the student body created a giant multicultural jig-saw puzzle.
Each student drew a flag that best represented their background on a piece of the puzzle. When it was assembled, the pieces formed a large map of the world.
Samuel’s own flag of Burundi was represented, along with several Canadian and Acadian ones. But, to his surprise, several other nations were also represented, including Spain and Portugal.
“There were people that I didn’t even know they were from somewhere else other than here,” he said. “Sometimes people come from a totally different environment, different schools, different countries, so it really helps when you have someone there to… let you know they’re there to help you.”
The CIFÎPÉ helps French-speaking newcomers to the province ease their social, economic, educational and cultural integration. It also makes the host population aware of cultural diversity, the benefits of immigration and the importance of Francophone immigration.
Other events taking place across the Island during Francophone Immigration Week include: a lunch and learn on immigration for employers in Charlottetown on Wednesday, along with a happy hour at the Centre Acadien de Prince-Ouest and a movie night at UPEI. Thursday features another movie night, this time at the Centre Belle-Alliance in Summerside, followed on Friday by happy hour at the Carrefour de l‘Isle-Saint-Jean in the capital.
See Wednesday's print edition of the Journal Pioneer for a more detailed schedule of events.