By Robyn Webb
It’s hard to believe that yet another summer has come to a too-soon end in Halifax. Mornings and evenings are cooler, warm sweaters jammed in the back of our closets are reluctantly dug out, and we’re oh so close to turning on the heat in our homes. Before summer becomes a distant memory, I wanted to share a few highlights from this year’s Annual Welcome BBQ.
Halifax prides itself on being a diverse, multi-cultural, and welcoming city. Our welcome basket comes in the form of several initiatives and community events that help immigrants and newcomers feel more at home.
Creating a Welcoming Community
Halifax Regional Council has made diversity and creating a welcoming community priorities for our city. In May 2005 Council adopted this vision:
“Halifax Regional Municipality is a welcoming community where immigration is supported and encouraged. Halifax Regional Municipality will work with other levels of government and community partners to increase our collective cultural, social and economic diversity by welcoming immigrants to our community.”
This led to the creation of the Annual Welcome BBQ. In its first year the event was a fairly small potluck style event, where people came together for conversation and to share traditions. Fast-forward eight years, and although still based on the same values, this annual event has truly become a large celebration of multiculturalism and community.
Halifax at its Best
The Annual Welcome BBQ has grown and matured in all aspects including planning, attendance, entertainment, and community spirit. On Saturday July 7, 2013 approximately 1000 community members - including new Canadians, citizens, families, international students, permanent residents, visitors, organizations, and businesses - filled the South Halifax Commons to join HRM in welcoming newcomers and celebrating Halifax's diversity.
Dedicated businesses and organizations throughout Halifax participated in planning this year's event. Committee members for 2013 included Greater Halifax Partnership, Halifax Regional Municipality, Saint Mary’s African Student Society, Boyne Clarke and Scotiabank.
The day was jam-packed with entertainment. Attendees witnessed everything from exciting performances from the Samba Nova drumming group and youth rapper Hickey G, to participating in ever-popular group fitness classes such as Zumba. This made for hours of entertainment, conversation and celebration.
From all accounts the event was a hit and showed Halifax at its best – welcoming and supporting newcomers to our community. Until next year!
Robyn Webb is the Director of Business Retention and Expansion and Labour Market Development for Greater Halifax Partnership. Robyn leads theSmartBusiness team and is responsible for visiting employers in Halifax to discuss the challenges, needs and opportunities facing our business community.