Starting over in a new country is stressful. There’s a lot to learn.
But what happens when you hear inaccurate information? How do you know what is true and what is false?
People who work with newcomers say stereotypes and myths about Indigenous peoples are repeated unchallenged, leading immigrants to be misinformed and even afraid of the population.
“There is not much education for newcomers to learn about their cultures and their diversity that exists within their community of the Indigenous people,” says Hani Ataan Al-Ubeady, the community engagement co-ordinator with Immigration Partnership Winnipeg.
However, his group is working to change that, he tells InFocus host Melissa Ridgen.
“My perception of Indigenous people was very, for quite a while, was very negative,” says Roxana Akhmetova who came to Canada from Kazakhstan at 12.,
“It took me a while to realize and to learn that the things they were teaching me were not correct.”
Akhmetova wants to take her education into her own hands and learn the truth about Indigenous peoples in Canada.
She is writing her thesis on Indigenous Newcomer relations. And looks at how, among other things, new Canadians can build stronger relationships with Indigenous peoples and participate in acts of reconciliation at the University of Manitoba.
Eliyana Angelova, a newcomer from Bulgaria, says she too was told many negative stories about Indigenous peoples when she first arrived.
She says she was told to not live near them, that they were dangerous.
But once she got to know them, she realized the stories she was told weren’t the whole story.
“You need the personal story to understand and to learn. Just like listening to the histories without the face is different.”
Angelova works with other newcomers and Partnership Winnipeg to help dispel stereotypes and debunk myths believed by many Canadians.
“Therefore it’s essential to create an orientation toolkit to educate newcomers,” adds Al-Ubeady.
He says he and the rest of the team at Partnership Winnipeg are developing materials and resources so Canadian newcomers will have the facts.