Healthy Communities YMCA Newcomer Programs

Next Stop, Canada: The newcomer’s map to a fresh start in a new country

If one has the good fortune and opportunity to embark on a journey, particularly one that takes them far away from home, the first thing to do is to learn as much as possible about the destination:  What kind of weather is there (and what clothing do you need to wear)? What kinds of people will you encounter? What foods are there to eat? What fun activities are there to do?

Moving to a destination far away from home, however, is a much bigger challenge: Where will you live? Will you find a job that matches your skills, wants and needs? Add a family to the equation, and the to-do list only grows longer: find child care, find a school, make new friends.

Using your favourite search engine can get results, but knowing which sources are helpful or will steer you off course is a task even the best of us get tired of finding out, even after just a few pages of results (if one even gets that far).

When we want to find our way to a destination, we use a map (yes, even those on paper). For those who’ve decided that Canada will be their next destination, the YMCA of Greater Toronto is launching a new service to help newcomers find their way to their next stop in their life’s journey: the electronic Newcomer Information Centre (eNIC) and the Youth Pre-Arrival Learning Site (YPALS).

Starting April 1st, 2016, people from around the globe will be able to find up-to-date, easy to navigate and helpful information about what to expect when moving to Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, as well as knowledgeable and helpful staff and mentors to answer any questions newcomers may have. Think of it as a personalized map to a bright future.

The staff of the YPALS and eNIC programs.

The staff of the YPALS and eNIC programs.

eNIC, serving those 16 years of age and older, and YPALS, serving youth 12-19 years of age, are another way for the YMCA to serve our communities by helping those interested in helping them grow into vibrant and enriching places to live, work and play. Webinars, workshops and live one-on-one mentoring with a newcomer who’s already made the move to Canada are just a few of many online resources available through these new services.

“Our teams are made up of passionate people from many walks of life– we speak over 15 languages,” say Candy Chow and Pony Huang, Coordinators of the YPALS and eNIC programs. “We’ve held many focus groups and talked to established newcomers here in the GTA. With their input and feedback, we’re confident that what we have is what people need when looking for information about Canada before they arrive.”

It’s been said that to get through the hardest journey, we need to take one step at a time, but that we also must keep stepping. Fortunately, the journey can be less stressful and more planned with the arrival of eNIC and YPALS—no need to fire up your search engine or mapping app.

eNIC and YPALS, funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, launch April 1st, 2016. For more information, visit, or contact us at; you can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter.