Two University of Manitoba students have initiated a project with the mission of providing refugees and new immigrants with the essentials they need to better transition into Winnipeg.
Lydia Gindy and Veronica Alexanders, have initiated a project, called: Welcome Home Immigration and Refugee Packages (WHIRP).
WHIRP started through a leadership class, the two founders were invited to a Youth Organizing to Understand Conflict and Advocate Nonviolence(YOUCAN) conference that is a part of Boys and Girls Club of Canada.
Gindy, a faculty of science student, said at the YOUCAN conference each group was responsible for choosing and facilitating a project idea to help the community.
She said that it was not until last year that she and Alexanders decided to pursue the idea. PRAXIS, a student group on campus that connects students to leadership and service learning opportunities, asked them if they had any projects to start.
So far, WHIRP has received a grant from Boys and Girls Club and a Student Life donation to get the project started, Gindy said.
Explaining how WHIRP will help refugees and new immigrants, Gindy said WHIRP will provide the immigrant youth with volunteer and job resources as soon as they arrive, to help integrate them into our community.
“WHIRP has spoken with Siloam mission and they will be providing us with volunteer brochures to include in our hampers and also potential positions for immigrant youth when they arrive,” said Gindy.
She noted that WHIRP wants to make sure that immigrant youth and children are in positive environments.
“WHIRP believes that bonding them with these different organizations and after-school programs will help them feel comfortable and find positive role models in our community,” Gindy said.
Veronica Alexanders, a faculty of arts student, said WHIRP is currently contacting different organizations that will be able to donate a variety of items, from winter wear to school supplies.
“Our goal is not only to provide the newcomers with supplies, but also to provide the youth with volunteer and job opportunities which will aid them in an easier transition to our community,” Alexanders said.
She mentioned that herself and Gindy had both come from multicultural backgrounds. Their families had to face the challenges of immigrating to Canada, Alexanders said, they “can somewhat connect to newcomers.
“WHIRP is supporting them with, not only essential supplies, but also a way that they could connect to their new community,” she said.
Allison Birch, student program coordinator of Student Life at U of M, said she hopes the project will help new immigrants feel at home in Winnipeg.
“It can be overwhelming coming into a new country and these packages include maps, guides, bus passes, winter gear and the essentials to make the families feel special, and like a part of the
community,” she said.
Birch mentioned that she was proud of Gindy and Alexanders as they “have gone above and beyond to make this project a success and they have really embodied what PRAXIS means, ‘theory into action.’”