By Phil Gérard
When I spend time with my wife’s family in Mexico I am always amazed by the strong sense of community. In our family parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins unite every Sunday for lunch and spend the afternoon together. If you need something you ask a family member first, everyone helps each other out. Family is community.
As a new Canadian (which is no longer really accurate after close to 20 years of living here), I have little family in Canada and I believe many other new Canadians are in a similar position. Through increasing mobility, families are getting spread out in general, new Canadian or not.
Something that has always amazed me about Canada is the strong volunteer and charitable sector. This is something I did not know from Europe and Germany in particular.
My first job was with Big Brothers Big Sisters, a wonderful organization that provides youth with positive adult role models. I learned first hand what an an impact charities and volunteers are making in our communities and in BBBS’ case in the lives of young people. I became a Big Brother myself and was matched with my Little Brother Mitchell for six years. He was 11 years at the time, now he is turning 27 and we are still friends.
What many of our organizations do is create community. In a country of many newcomers, our organizations help fulfill many functions that traditionally extended families would have done.
Many of us may not have an extended family but we can still be a part of one or many communities. Nonprofits and their dedicated volunteers are working hard every day to ensure that no one feels alone who does not want to. Thank you all for what you do every day!