How can Fort Frances make its new residents feel more welcome?
That's a question Coun. Douglas Judson would like to further explore as more and more families from other countries come to live here.
Coun. Judson, who is the council representative on the local Celebrating Diversity committee, reported it met last month and at that meeting, the committee discussed “finding new ways to assert and promote this community as a place of welcome and to help newcomers and others find resources, groups, and other initiatives that relate to their interests, needs, spirituality, or identity.”
“I believe the town, they have a role to play in that effort, perhaps through its website, and we'll be exploring those opportunities further,” he told council Monday night.
Coun. Judson noted our community has a number of newcomer families—perhaps more than many people realize.
The Valley Adult Learning Association here has been offering programming and meet-and-greet sessions for these families.
“They count about 50 people from 15 different countries right now in our community," Coun. Judson noted. ”Most of those families that have moved here have done so because a family member has taken on work at New Gold or Norbord.
“I emphasize that because there's been a lot of heated and inaccurate rhetoric about newcomers in the national political dialogue and online,” he added.
"But here locally, I want people to know that these are people who are buying cars. They're supporting local businesses, they're attending schools and Confederation College, and they're helping to drive progress in our local industries.
"They are part of our community.
“We are so fortunate to have them and I know that everyone at this table and this room is going to do their part to extend our warmest welcome to that growing cohort of people,” Coun. Judson concluded.
Coun. Judson also represents council on the BIA board, which represents downtown businesses.
He is working with the board members to refine and harmonize bylaws in relation to membership and procedural matters.
“That's important to ensure that the BIA remains a vibrant representative and participatory body for the proprietors on our 'Great Canadian Main Street,'” Coun. Judson stressed.
In other news, Coun, Judson reminded the public that Borderland Pride will meet tonight (Feb. 13) at 7 p.m. in the Shaw Room at the Fort Frances Public Library to review last year's “Pride Week” festivities, as well as to get input on this summer's event.
“We look forward to commentary from members of the public related to the sort of celebration they would like to see around diversity and inclusion in Fort Frances this summer, building on that activities which took place last year,” he remarked.
Borderland Pride recently moved a resolution for the regional Thunder Pride Association to host the national Canada Pride conference in 2021 in Thunder Bay.
“We are really excited to see delegates from across Canada visit the northwest and share their sparkle with our communities,” Coun. Judson said.