There are many ways you can connect with others and build relationships in friendly Manitoba. All you need is a little bit of commitment and an open heart. Here are a few examples:
Join settlement provider organization (SPO) programs
We’re lucky to be living in Manitoba where there are many active SPOs. These agencies offer programs for skill-building, as well as socialization and recreation. A bonus is that joining is usually free.
Attending any type of newcomer program will provide you the opportunity to build friendships and connect with others (you’ll have fun and learn something new too!). These are great venues especially because you’ll be meeting newcomers with whom you share many things in common.
You can check newcomer programs from SPOs from this list. Here are some you might like to explore:
- Aurora Family Therapy Centre -Walking Club and Conversation Circles
- Family Dynamics (Community Settlement Program) – Conversation Circles
- Immigrant Centre Access English Centre – Conversation Classes
- NorWest Co-op – Hans Kai Community-led health program
- West Central Women’s Resource Centre – Conversation Circles
- A&O Support Services for Older Adults – Connect Program (for isolated older adults)
- English Online – Virtual Coffee Chats
Join your ethnocultural organization
Ethnocultural organizations are groups that “develop cultural unity and development for ethic, language and visible minorities.” They may also provide support to people of the same culture.
There are more than 80 ethnocultural organizations in MB. Check this list or this list to find where you belong. Aside from socialization, you can get involved in community projects, special cultural events, and other activities.
Join civic or religious groups
Don’t limit your circle of friends to just fellow immigrants. Your experience will be greatly enriched by befriending locals. It will also help you learn more about Canadian culture and integrate faster. Start by joining neighbourhood clean-ups or the neighbourhood patrol. Become active in your children’s Parents-Teacher Association. Join church groups in your parish, the Rotary Club, sports clubs, and other similar groups.
Use online tools
There are so many digital tools and apps that can help you connect with others. You can:
- Use social media – There are several Facebook Groups specifically for Manitoban newcomers. You can also choose to join one specifically for newcomers from your home country. These are like forums where you can ask questions, get tips, and learn from the experience of other members. While most groups are purely online, some organize chat rooms or even in-person meet-ups for members to socialize. If you’re looking to build professional connections, make a LinkedIn account. Read 5 ways newcomers can start building a professional network to help you start.
- Online dating – If you’re looking for a romantic connection, you can try dating apps. You will have to make a personal profile from which the algorithm will “match” you with people you’re compatible with. While they are free to download, most apps will charge a fee for use. This ranges from $18 to $45 a month. To choose one, simply search online. Read the article 25 Best Canadian dating apps for 2022 to see what’s available. An important note: Before installing a dating app, learn more about online safety. Know what catfishing means and know the red flags for romance scams. Remember to practice caution when meeting someone from the app for the first time.
Volunteering is a wonderful way to gain Canadian experience and meet new people. In Manitoba, many not-for-profits accept volunteers all year round. You can choose organizations that serve causes that align with your beliefs. There also organizations that look for volunteers with specific skills. Check listings from Volunteer Manitoba or MANSO. Ask about volunteer opportunities if you belong to a professional organization.
There are many other venues for socialization in Manitoba that you’ll discover as you go. The most important thing is to get out there and stay active. Remember to be yourself and enjoy meeting many diverse and friendly Manitobans.
Sources: Newcomers to Canada: Connecting with your community, Canada.ca; and How to make friends in Canada as an immigrant, Bell Webster, Living in Canada. Accessed November 18, 2022.
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