When I moved to Canada, I was a typical immigrant and was often lonely. Yet, I wanted to truly make Canada home. As immigrants to Alberta, Canada we may not clue into some of the customs of home ownership and living in a Canadian neighbourhood. Plus, it is easy and comfortable to just connect with our own people from back home. There are many advantages to becoming part of your community.
Advantages of Knowing Your Neighbours
- When you go away, neighbours can gather your mail and also give it to you when you return. You can do the same for them.
- If you run out of an ingredient when cooking you can ‘borrow’, for example a cup of sugar from your neighbour.
- If an emergency happens you will know who in your neighbourhood will help
- It gives people a sense of comfort and safety when they know their neighbours.
It is sad that many immigrants do not realize these advantages. They never truly make Canada home. But I hope you are open to trying new behaviours. Here are some ideas to help you become a vibrant part of your neighbourhood.
10 Tips for Immigrants to Make Canada Home
- Introduce yourself and your family to your neighbours. When you have new neighbours, make sure to knock on their door and welcome them to the neighbourhood.
- In the summer go to your nearby park. Say “Hi” to people and their dogs. Ask permission to touch and pet their dog. If you have children, take them to the park and introduce yourself to the other parents. Say, “Hi, I am Genet and this is my little girl, Sarah. Do you live far from here? We live two blocks away?” Or you might say “Sarah goes to the school here in the neighbourhood. Is that where your child goes?”
- In the winter shovel the snow in front of your house as soon as you can. That makes walking on your street easy and safe for everyone. Consider shoveling the snow for your neighbours to either side of your house. You might be surprised one morning when they return the favour.
- If you have children and they make friends in the neighbourhood, arrange with the parents to have ‘playdates’. Arrange with the parents how long the children will play at your house or their house and what time they will be expected to come home.
- Keep your property clean and tidy. If you have a fence between your house and your neighbour’s, keep it in good repair.
- Avoid parking your car in front of your neighbour’s property. If you happen to be having a big party and many cars will be parked in front of your neighbour’s home, consider letting them know about it.
- If you own a dog and take it to the local park, make sure you pick up its droppings in a bag and discard it appropriately.
- Join your Community Association. At least attend its Annual General Meeting. Community Associations exist to help neighbours connect and help make where you feel safe and welcoming.
- Consider hosting a neighbourhood Christmas Open House or a summer garden party. Welcoming your neighbours for a couple hours into your home can make all feel connected.
- Take opportunities to simply wave and say, “Hi neighbour! Isn’t it a great day?” In Canada, especially in Alberta, we love talking about the weather.
Not only will these tips help you integrate into your neighbourhood and make friends, they will make you feel like you came home.
I feel excited to imagine you, like me, learning to truly make Canada home. Then you will enjoy and find the true heart of your home.