As the start of the school year nears, the hallways of Peel District School Board’s We Welcome the World Centres buzz with activity and eager newcomer families waiting to register their children for school.
Among these newcomers is the Tasabhji family—Ayham, Bayan and their four children. They arrived in Peel last month after leaving political turmoil in Syria.
“Getting our children into school was one of our first priorities,” says Ayham Tasabhji. “I’m very grateful to the Welcome Centres for all the support I’ve received, and I’m overwhelmed by the helpful nature of Canadians. This has been a wonderful experience.”
The Peel board’s
Welcome Centres in Mississauga, Brampton and Malton support the needs of newcomers settling in Peel from all over the world. Since June, the Peel board has registered and assessed over 2000 newcomer students through the centres from over 120 countries.
“Transitioning to school can be challenging for many families as they must learn about, and adjust to, the education system in Ontario ,” says Louise Clayton, We Welcome the World Centre coordinator. “To ensure the needs of our newcomer families are met, our centres – through our multilingual staff, school settlement response workers and resource teachers – provide information, support and guidance so that students and families can make a smooth transition in a warm and welcoming environment.”
Upon arrival at the centres, students are registered from school and are assessed in English and Mathematics. Families receive an orientation about life in Canada with a focus on Ontario’s education system. A Settlement Needs Assessment is conducted to direct families to services and resources that support their full integration into school and the community. Parents are informed, connected and referred to activities in schools as well as outside services, such as childcare, community centres, housing, medical/dental assistance and employment.
Sitting amidst the bustle of the centres’ family waiting area are also newcomers Gurpeet Singh, Richa Khurana and their daughter, Banni, who says she is looking forward to attending kindergarten in the fall and “becoming a superhero one day.” This newcomer family travelled for the past few years from India to the United States and will now settle in Canada.
“Growth is something everyone wants, so we’re looking forward to all that for our daughter, for ourselves and for our family,” says Khurana.
Through collaborative efforts with Peel board’s five Multicultural Settlement and Education Partnership (MSEP) partner agencies, funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the centres offer numerous joint and group training opportunities for students and families, including the
World of Welcome (WOW) orientation and youth leadership activities. The Peel board’s We Welcome the World Centres are open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for registration and assessments. For more information, visit