It all started back in 2005 when Sandra Reygada Licuime moved from Chile to Kirkland Lake after marrying a wonderful man from Northern Ontario. Far from home and family, unable to speak English or French and without any support network in town, she found herself isolated. Those first few months were very difficult. Then Sandra met another woman in the same circumstance, and another and another. Even though they didn’t share a common language, they had a deep empathy for each other and became friends. Gradually, through word of mouth, more and more newcomers were discovered and embraced. Many of whom had been living here for years. The feeling of belonging was life-saving and empowering. Together, they created a large supportive network, too big to fit in Sandra’s living room.
The Kirkland Lake Multicultural Group (KLMG) is the result of these members. Over the past five years the group has held many free events to help new KLers thrive here in the north. Soccer tournaments, skating and sliding parties, beach days, barbeques and potluck dinners are all enjoyed. Weddings, baby showers, birthdays and cultural holidays were all celebrated.
In 2012 the KLMG, along with Chantal Bruneau from NDP MP Charlie Angus’ office, hosted a large Multicultural Food Festival. This brought people of various cultures and local residents together celebrating through food and conversation. We hope to make this an annual event for all to enjoy.
The need to become an incorporated, non-profit organization was to better serve current and future newcomers. To be their instant support network without it taking years to build their own. Thanks to Gavin Shorrock Law’s generosity the goal of incorporation is now a reality.
Our vision for the future is to have a full funded drop-in center. A casual space to find an empathetic ear and encouragement. A place to find all the information that is needed when settling in a new town. The center would be open to the general public to encourage integration between Canadians and newcomers.
As we grow, the goal will always be to bring people together. To build a stronger community where we all live.