The Nelson Public Library is offering a virtual tea time for newcomers to the city as well as immigrants who want to get to know their new home. Photo: Pexels

The Nelson Public Library is offering a virtual tea time for newcomers to the city as well as immigrants who want to get to know their new home. Photo: Pexels

CHECK THIS OUT: Newcomers, immigrants at the Nelson Public Library

Avi Silberstein writes about the monthly Tea Talks for new arrivals

I came to Canada when I was 18 years old. Took a plane from the country where I’d been born and raised, in Chile, and settled into life in Montreal. I was not your typical immigrant: having a Canadian mother meant that when I arrived I already knew how to speak English, and was already a citizen.

I had it easy, as far as immigrants go. For me, the challenges were the little things: not knowing how to dress for the winter and mispronouncing simple words that I’d only learned from reading books, having never heard them spoken.

In a Gallup poll released last year, people in every country were asked whether they thought it was a good thing or a bad thing for immigrants to come to their country, become their neighbours, and marry into their families. Out of 145 countries that were surveyed, Canada scored the highest for acceptance. We are a country that welcomes immigrants with open arms.

Here in the West Kootenays, we’ve been fortunate enough to be selected as one of only 11 communities in Canada to pilot an exciting new immigration initiative. The Rural and Northern Immigration Project aims to “spread the benefits of economic immigration to smaller communities by creating a path to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers who want to work and live in one of the participating communities.”

The first family will be arriving in Nelson later this month — and here at the library we’re ready and eager to welcome them. Public libraries are, in fact, the first place many newcomers and immigrants visit upon arriving in a new community. That’s why we used to host New to Nelson potlucks at the library (pre-COVID, of course), and why we now host monthly “New to Nelson” Tea Talks in collaboration with the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL).

The Tea Talks are an opportunity for newcomers and immigrants to connect with one another and learn about a variety of relevant issues. Past meetings have been about the history of Nelson, taxes in Canada, and how to secure rental housing. Future sessions might include local hikes and walks, how to deal with forest fires, and identifying local flora/fauna.

Not a newcomer or immigrant, but still want to attend these talks? Not a problem! In fact, we’d love to have locals join in so that they can welcome those who are new to the community and help us orient them to the West Kootenays.

There are many wonderful organizations in the area that are working hard to help immigrants settle in the area, including CBAL, Community Futures, and the Immigrant Services Society of BC. But the rest of us all have to a role to play as well.

Make newcomers and immigrants feel welcome in our community. Offer a helping hand and a smile. Most of them don’t have it as easy as I did when I arrived in Canada. But I’d bet they’re just as excited as I was to settle down in this wonderful country that we call home.

Avi Silberstein is the Children’s Librarian at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. If you’re interested in learning more about library programs and services, sign up for our monthly newsletter on our website or by giving us a call.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Public opposition to a planned road was expressed on posters on the hiking trails above the Nelson cemetery. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Logging company abandons road construction planned near Nelson hiking trails

RDCK, public, and transportation ministry opposed the road

A concept of the new Kaslo Bridge, which is expected to be complete by November. Illustration: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Kaslo Bridge to be replaced

Construction on the $6.19-million project begins this month

Stuart Ashley Jones, 56, was at Grand Forks provincial court for sentencing on May 5, 2021. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks man shot by police during massive flood sentenced to house arrest

Stuart Ashley Jones was shot by a Grand Forks Mountie after ramming two police cruisers in May 2018

The provincial government is funding upgrades to campgrounds in the Slocan Valley. File photo
Slocan Valley campgrounds to receive upgrades

New Denver, Slocan and Silverton have been granted $300,000

COVID-19 cases in B.C. for the week of April 25 to May 1. Illustration: BC Centre for Disease Control
Nelson surpasses 100 COVID-19 cases in 2021

The West Kootenays meanwhile saw numbers drop at the end of April

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police photo of suspected cat thief was just a woman with her own cat

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports first vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

Allayah Yoli Thomas had recently turned 12 years old when she died of a suspected drug overdose April 15. (Courtesy of Adriana Londono)
Suspected overdose death of Vancouver Island 12 year old speaks to lack of supports

Allayah Yoli Thomas was found dead by her friend the morning of April 15

Most Read