O’Leary celebrates increasingly diverse residents

O’Leary held its first Multiculturalism Day event on Monday.

The event showcased the language, culture and food of residents of western Prince Edward Island, hailing from across Canada and around the world.

“It’s going to really, I think, make us feel like family,” said Lihong Ling, who moved from China to Prince Edward Island with her husband Ling Jie Liu in 2019.

“We will show many people different cultures from different countries, regions, and we like to be one of the people here to share our culture, our experience, with other peoples, and also make new friends here.”

Lihong Ling is happy to have the opportunity to share her culture. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

The couple have a business offering baguazhang martial arts classes and tui na massage, a traditional Chinese medical practice. A baguazhang demonstration was part of the event.

Andrew Avery, O’Leary’s director of recreation, said the town’s population has changed significantly in recent years.

“We now have residents from all over Canada, from many different countries,” Avery said.

“To be able to show a bit of everything we can, where everyone is from, we just think it’s a big highlight of our city now.”

“It helps to open the door”

The event was held with the help of the province’s Community Navigator program, which helps newcomers to rural Prince Edward Island. West Prince Edward Island Community Navigator Scott Smith said partnering with municipalities is key to helping newcomers settle.

“We can’t do this work alone, it really takes a community,” Smith said.

Scott Smith, West PEI Community Navigator.
Working together on events like this is important, says Scott Smith. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

“When we can partner with municipalities, especially in rural areas, it helps open the door for all newcomers and new residents of Prince Edward Island to feel welcome and do part of their communities.”

These events not only help people feel welcome, but help attract more people to rural parts of the province, he said.

Ruby Lubigan, who moved to Prince Edward Island from the Philippines in 2011 and became a Canadian citizen in 2018, now sits on the Community Navigation Committee because she knows how difficult it can be to feel at home in a new country.

“The kind of event that can help us feel at home, relax, you know, being away from home,” Lubigan said.

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