Many newcomers shared one of their first winter holiday meals at Immigrant Centre on Saturday, December 10. Families gathered to eat, talk and open gifts at the event.
Gina Lizarazo attended with her husband and daughter. “It’s good, especially for our daughter, because we have no family here. It’s good for her to be around other kids.”
A magician performed before Santa arrived to hand out gifts to the children. The kids laughed and shouted as the magician played some tricks on them and on his volunteer helpers.
Santa came into the room bursting with a jolly “ho ho ho!” and gave out a few hugs before giving gifts.
“We want to provide a safe and fun atmosphere for people,” said Etiene Serpa, organizer and Director of Settlement Services. “It’s a growing community, so we think it’s important to make people feel welcome.”
The event started at 1 p.m. and lasted until about 3:30 p.m. The Centre served a meal of pasta, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, ham and desert. Attendees ate at long tables and had the chance to talk while they ate.
Cary Tardi, the magician, entertained the children as parents finished their meals. He asked for volunteers and had a couple children help him with magic tricks before handing out balloon animals.
Kids got even more excited after getting their gifts from Santa. Many of them brought their present back to their parents to open them together.
“We got here in September, so this is a good time for us,” said Lizarazo.
The newcomer community in Winnipeg is always growing. Immigrant Centre wants to ensure newcomers have the supports they need to live happily. Hosting a holiday feast was just another way to celebrate the people in our community, and provide a hot meal for everyone to share.
Photo and story by: Jennifer Doerksen