A community group called the Welcoming Communities Initiative, with the support of the Grey Bruce Inclusive Communities Committee, is holding an open  community meeting on Tuesday April 21st at 7:00 pm at the Ginger Press, 848 2nd Ave. East in Owen Sound.
"We've had two very successful Forums that brought people together to look at what is needed to make Grey Bruce a region that welcomes and supports newcomers, and now it is the time to move forward with the recommendations," said Joan Irvine, a member of the initiative.
Across Ontario many communities accessed federal and provincial funding to assess newcomer needs, build strategies to attract and retain newcomers, and invest in services and regional coordination. Although that funding window has now closed, the need for action in Grey Bruce is more important than ever to make our region competitive. We need to bring investments, businesses, young
people, new immigrants and diverse newcomers to the area, and the Welcoming Communities approach has proven success. Strategic plans at Grey County and the City of Owen Sound recognize the importance of bring newcomers to the area to offset our declining and aging population.
A 2010 federal study called 'Characteristics of Welcoming Communities' highlighted 17 characteristics that contribute to an open and inclusive community. Grey Bruce has some of the 17
but is missing critical aspects. Do we have one of the most important characteristics - 'positive attitudes towards immigrants, cultural diversity and the presence of newcomers in the community'.
Participants at the first Welcoming Communities Forum in 2013 identified this as a key area for work,
along with a need to improve attitudes towards Aboriginal and diverse citizens who are already living in the region. Another characteristic for success is 'the presence of newcomer-serving agencies that can successfully meet the needs of newcomers'. At the 2013 Forum we identified some supports for
newcomers in the region, but we are missing a 'common front door for information' which makes it very challenging for newcomers to find supports.
The meeting on April 21st will focus on getting started with a community plan for
a Welcoming Communities Network in Grey Bruce that will engage many people and
perspectives to build collaboration, learning and action. Anyone interested in this work is welcome.

source:media release



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