Ukrainian newcomers embrace something new at Seaforth curling night
BY SCOTT STEPHENSON
The County of Huron, in partnership with the Seaforth Curling Club, hosted a learn-to-curl event for a special group of new residents on Friday, Feb. 24.
Huron County is now home to nearly 40 newcomers from Ukraine who have resettled in Canada over the past 12 months, according to event organizer and County of Huron Local Immigration Partnership Manager Mark Nonkes. The instructional evening of curling, part of an ongoing monthly series of events, was created to introduce Ukrainian newcomers to the quintessentially Canadian sport of curling and aid in strengthening local social networks.
Nonkes said Ukrainian families have settled throughout the county in areas like Goderich, Wingham, Mitchell, Exeter and others. Events like the curling tutorial aim to foster new relationships, provide space for Ukrainian people to connect to share common language and familiar customs, and facilitate integration with newfound Canadian neighbours and friends.
Through an interpreter, new arrival to Canada - Nataliia - told The Citizen she thinks Huron County is very beautiful and likes living here very much. She says she has made many friends and feels very welcomed by the community.
Nataliia said she is new to curling but believes her athletic background in soccer and basketball should help her quickly master the icy art of tossing rock. Nataliia said the event was a great idea and that games help bring people together. When asked if she may represent Team Canada some day as a curler at the Olympics, the brightly beaming Nataliia enthusiastically replied, “Yes!” She also provided two useful translations - “pospishay” and “tyazhko” - which are the Ukrainian words for “hurry” and “hard”.
Nataliia’s interpreter - Iuliia - a six-year resident of the Goderich area, said curling is not widely practiced in her native country and that this event is a great opportunity for Ukrainian newcomers in Huron County to gain exposure to a popular Canadian pastime. Iuliia said it is also an effective way to combat loneliness for those experiencing new circumstances in a new country.
Retirees Audrey and Alex of Goderich say it has been a very good experience hosting a young woman from Ukraine at their home. Audrey says the language barrier has not been an issue at all and the young woman is fitting in very well with the community.
Nonkes says there is an ongoing need for new housing options throughout the county for Ukrainians who have recently arrived in Canada. Noting vulnerable sector check requirements, Nonkes encourages anyone interested in volunteering support or providing housing options to visit connectedcountyofhuron.ca/support-for-ukrainian-newcomers.