Learn more about how the City of Brantford is offering newcomers an opportunity to make a difference and connect to their communities.
Statistics Canada recently released a report about the increase in self-reported loneliness in newcomers due to barriers in establishing new relationships and connections.
Brantford, a dynamic and progressive city in Southwestern Ontario that is home to roughly 90,000 people, also known as the Hub of Ontario Trails and hometown of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, launched the Brantford Immigration Partnership (BIP) in 2020 to connect newcomers with their cultural communities, as well as with the greater community at large. The purpose of the BIP is to support community-based partnerships specifically catering to the needs of newcomers.
Why people are choosing Brantford
BIP is a group of dedicated community partners who are working to ensure that the City of Brantford continues to be a welcoming and inclusive community for all. The BIP’s overall goal is to see that all immigrants to Brantford feel a sense of belonging and are able to succeed and participate in the economic, social, civic, and cultural growth of the city.
“Many immigrants come here to just work, leaving their families in their countries, and they don’t have a sense of connection with their city,” says Diego Aguilar, a newcomer to Canada and a resident of the City of Brantford. “I really love Brantford. I feel like they are making the right efforts in order to connect newcomers to each other.”
Aguilar, who met his wife in Canada, relocated to Brantford with his family a few years ago, and joined the Brantford Immigration Partnership (BIP) last December. With a background in law and in political science, Aguilar wanted to contribute to the community.
“I see myself as a bridge, as someone with the background as a newcomer but also with experience with Canadians,” says Aguilar. “As a newcomer, you need to be open to introducing yourself to other people and give back to the community.
Giving newcomers a voice
The recently launched BIP Network invites Brantford residents, businesses, and organizations to share experiences, voice ideas, and help launch new initiatives that empower newcomers. Members of the BIP Network actively participate in research, new initiatives, and awareness campaigns. By sharing lived experiences, members can help positively shape the future for newcomers in Brantford while creating a more inclusive community.
“I think what makes the Brantford Immigration Partnership so special is that every fabric of our community is actively involved,” says Vujasinovich. “Local settlement services, employers, school boards and post-secondary institutions, cultural groups, and more are stepping in to work together to make our city more safe, inclusive, healthy and an engaging place to live.”
Vujasinovich also notes that the partnership helps give community members a voice and are provided the resources and knowledge to bring community ideas to life. BIP gives participants an active role in determining what they’d like to see their lives look like through action tables related to economic development, inclusion, diversity and community connections.
However, the BIP Network isn’t just for newcomers—it’s for anyone interested in continuing to make Brantford a culturally vibrant and inclusive place by providing input and creating meaningful change whether you’re new to the community or not.
“By joining the network you are helping to make the community more inclusive and welcoming for newcomers,” says Vujasinovich. “We invite not only newcomers, but seasoned residents, business owners, service providers and any faith or cultural groups to join to help inspire positive change in Brantford.”