Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 14, 2004
Francophone community reaches out
Youth group helps agenhcy that wants to welcome newcomers
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Andre Lambert, 16, sees it as his Christian duty to help those in need. True to his convictions, the teen and seven of his peers spent more than three hours June 5 combing the neighbourhoods around St. Thomas d'Aquin francophone Parish for donations of household items to help needy francophone newcomers to the city.
"I want to help people from the Third World to get a fresh start here," he said while carrying a closet shelf to a waiting flat bed truck. "Most of them came here with nothing, not even a place to stay."
Divided into small groups, the members of St. Thomas d'Aquin Parish youth group, together with some members of the Knights of Columbus, combed areas such as Bonnie Doon, Strathearn and Holyrood in search of donations.
The items are going to Welcome and Settlement Services, an agency recently set up to provide help to francophone newcomers to Edmonton.
Joel Cadrin, 17, teamed up with Lambert in the Bonnie Doon area. "I joined the collection because helping others is part of being a Catholic," he said. "I know there are people in need and I wanted to help. Our faith teaches us that we have to help everyone in need."
The collection was a success, said Rosemarie Cadrin, youth coordinator at St. Thomas. The group received donations from 30 out of 170 homes they visited, enough to fill five pick-up trucks. The items, including pots and pans, children's clothing, household appliances and furniture, are being stored at the headquarters of the Sisters of the Holy Cross on Whyte Avenue.
Launched last October, the Welcome and Settlement Services is a community project coordinated by the French-Canadian Association of Alberta in collaboration with the Francophone Multicultural Association of Alberta. Catholic Social Services and the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers are also collaborating with the new settlement service.
The agency offers French-speaking newcomers from around the world, including Quebec, the information they need to settle in Edmonton and integrate into the francophone community, said agency director George Bahaya.
Many of them come from French-speaking countries in Africa and the Caribbean and need help with everything from language services to basic household items, he said.
So far the agency has helped more than 50 clients from Congo, Rwanda, Haiti and Quebec.
"We work with them for as long as it is necessary until they are integrated (into the community)," Bahaya said.
Welcome and Settlement Services has a staff of two and operates out of La Cite Francophone, #50, 8627-91 St., Edmonton. It's open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. For more information call George Bahaya at (780) 669-6004.