Helping young newcomers integrate in Canada: Halifax

Watch how Halifax West High School helps newcomer youth learn Canada’s official languages and adapt to Canadian society.

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Transcript: “Helping young newcomers integrate in Canada: Halifax”

Video length: 5:29 minutes

Soft piano music plays in the background.

The screen shows a girl sitting with a red and white background.

Text in white font displayed on bottom right corner: Eliana Mangapi (Student at Halifax West High School.

Eliana Mangapi: (Student at Halifax West High School): I arrived in Toronto and I was like, wow! Am I dreaming or something? Wow! I mean, it was just so beautiful…

The screen changes to Eliana walking down a school hallway.

Narrator: Eliana Mangapi arrived from Kenya in 2015.

Eliana arrives at the end of the hallway and enters a classroom. Eliana is seen sitting, talking and smiling with someone who is off screen.

Narrator: Born in Congo, she suffered terrible losses over the course of her childhood… She was ecstatic to be here when she arrived, but Eliana confesses that coming to Canada was not easy.

The screen returns to Eliana sitting with the red and white background. She has tears in her eyes.

Eliana Mangapi: (Student at Halifax West High School): I mean, it was never easy coming to Canada…because you left your friends. I know that I will never see my dad again and my brother. It was so hard for me to leave those kind of memories back there. It was so hard. At some point, it’s like you’re happy that you’re going to experience another life in another country. But at the same time, it’s like…you…leaving everything behind.

The screen changes to an outside view of Halifax West High School in winter time.

The soft piano background music stops.

Narrator: At Halifax West High School, the teaching staff and the administration understand the specific needs of these teens.

The screen changes to a blurry view of students walking in the hallway to and from their classes.

The screen shows a close-up of the students’ feet walking in the hallway.

The screen changes to a classroom full of students. A boy standing, writing (or drawing) on a piece of white paper with crayons on the desk, and there are other students in the background.

Narrator: For the past 20 years, the school has been continually taking in young people from foreign countries, diverse cultures and different religions.

The screen changes to another boy who is sitting and drawing with a red pencil on white paper.

The screen changes to a third boy who is drawing with a black pencil on white paper.

The screen changes to two more female students.

Narrator: And the numbers just keep growing.

The screen changes to two female students sitting and working together on a project.

The screen changes to three other students, being helped by a teacher.

The screen changes to another teacher with two other students.

Narrator: Today, the school encompasses nearly 55 different nationalities.

Narrator: But the school is not shouldering the responsibility on its own.

The screen changes to a classroom full of students sitting at their desks working.

The screen changes to a close-up of a female student working on a project.

Narrator: Supporting the teachers and administrators is the YMCA, which in 1996, in partnership with the school, set up the first school settlement program in the country.

The screen changes to a view of a woman sitting in a classroom.

Text in white font displayed on bottom right corner: KATHRYN KHAN, YMCA Centre Manager for Immigrant Programs.

Kathryn Khan: (Manager at the YMCA Centre for Immigrant Programs): Some of the needs of newcomer children and youth are around…um…developing relationships of trust, making friends, understanding what opportunities…are…to get involved in the schools.

The screen changes to a female teacher talking in front of a class.

The screen changes to a view of a woman sitting in a classroom.

The screen shows one female student from this same classroom, sitting and listening to the teacher.

The screen changes to a wider angle of the same female student, at the same table, but now we see two other students, a girl and a boy, and the same teacher standing in the background, in front of a white board, while one of the students reads to the class.

The screen changes to show two male students sitting listening in class.

The screen changes to another group of five male students sitting in the same classroom.

Narrator: Halifax West High School has, over the years, developed new programs and initiatives to help newcomers integrate into school and society, and adapt to their new environment. And integration necessarily involves learning one of Canada’s official languages.

The screen changes to show the same classroom with many students raising their hands.

The screen changes to a view of books on shelves on the right side, and on the left, a sign displays the words ‘We all Smile in the same language’ in white text on black background.

The screen changes to a man sitting in a room with a beige background.

Text in white font displayed on bottom right corner: Tim Simony, Halifax West High School Principal

Tim Simony: (Principal of Halifax West High School): I think the big struggle is…is…figuring out how to have that balance between having them engaged in school work that’s moving them intellectually forwards, that’s overcoming the barrier of language, uh, without, uh, I guess underteaching them because there’s that barrier in place.

The screen changes to four female students sitting at a desk working while a female teacher talks to one of the students.

Narrator: Part of finding that balance is recognizing the skills these youths already have.

The screen changes to a woman sitting in a room with a beige background.

Text in white font displayed on bottom right corner: Sonja Grcic-Stuart, Halifax Regional School Board.

Sonja Grcic-Stuart: (Halifax Regional School Board): In order to be successful in settlement, the language piece is critical in this whole, um, understanding of receiving an education. In this case, it is an English education that the children are receiving, and how do you support that, um, acquisition of English, at the same time understanding that they are bringing a language or two already to school and supporting that.

The screen changes to two female students, being helped by a female teacher.

The screen changes to two other female students working at a desk.

Narrator: And the young people, who have successfully integrated, help newcomers to fit in as well.

The screen changes to one female student smiling and talking.

Narrator: Weam Ibrahim arrived in Canada at the age of eight because her parents came here to study.

The screen changes to a show a panoramic view of the same classroom, with the same students seen at the beginning of the video.

Narrator: She readily admits that learning English is easier for an eight-year-old than for a high school student.

The screen shows another female teacher standing and speaking in front of the classroom.

The screen changes to show two female students working at a desk.

The screen changes to show two other female students working at another desk.

Narrator: The key for her fellow students, in her opinion, is to get out of their comfort zone and just try new things. And she is ready to lend a hand.

The screen changes to show a girl in front of a red wall.

Text in white font shows: Weam Ibrahim, Student at Halifax West High School.

Weam Ibrahim: (Student at Halifax West High School): I think there’s a lot of people that helped me…that started…to learn English…, so I think it’s definitely…it’s…you have to give something back to those, um, who don’t…who are not as knowledgeable as you or who don’t speak the language, and who are really, really finding it difficult. And I think the older you are, the harder it is to learn a new language and to, kind of open up your mind…, and…fear of not succeeding. And I think that’s one of the biggest things.

The screen changes to another outside view of the school, in winter, while students walk towards the front door.

Narrator: For her, Halifax West is the ideal place for a teen who has just arrived.

The screen changes to a blurry view of students walking in a hallway.

The screen changes to show a girl in front of a red wall.

Weam Ibrahim: (Student at Halifax West High School): “Ah, the thing I like the most about Halifax West is that it’s so multicultural, there are so many people from so many different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions and races, and I think the…the most amazing thing is that we all share the same background, we’re all so different, but at the same time we all understand each other.”

The screen changes to a view from above of a group of six students sitting in an office.

There is a panoramic view of these same six students in the same room.

Narrator: To facilitate the integration of young people, the school can count on the support of the student government, which is made up of some 100 youths from about 40 different nationalities.

The screen changes to a view from above of two students working at a desk.

The screen changes to a female student with one female teacher working at a computer.

The screen changes to two female students working together at a desk.

Narrator: They encourage initiatives like the Multicultural Show or the Best Buddies program, which involves pairing up two students.

The screen shows a classroom with many students working at desks; some students are standing, and a teacher walks from desk to desk helping students.

The screen changes to a group of five female students working at a desk.

Narrator: This way, the ones who have been in the country for a longer period can help out newcomers who are having problems in a particular subject or just struggling with the language.

The screen changes to a close-up of one of the same male students sitting in the same room as before.

Text in white font shows: Ray Anjoul, Co-President, Student Government.

Ray Anjoul: (Co-President, Student Government): “Our goal is to incorporate everyone and welcome everyone. So whether it’s modifying the games that we have in the cafeteria by simplifying or…um…making adjustments to the questions we’ll ask or whether it’s…um…playing music that fits different nationalities and different countries, we like to include cultures, and our main goal as a student government is to welcome everyone and have everyone participate.”

The screen shows a male student, blurry at first but then clear. He is sitting in class listening to a teacher speak.

The screen changes to a close-up of a globe, with a male student in the background.

Narrator: At the end of the day, these efforts pay off because if teens succeed in their new environment, it can make a big difference in terms of their family’s integration as well.

Screen changes to a view of the same woman as before, sitting in the room with the beige background.

The soft piano music starts playing in the background.

Text in white font displayed on bottom right corner: Kathryn Khan, YMCA Centre Manager for Immigrant Programs.

The screen changes to show an entrance that reads: welcome/bienvenue to the west in red font on white background. The entrance has two doors, with windows on each side and works painted on them in different colours.

Kathryn Khan: (Manager at the YMCA Centre for Immigrant Programs): So we know that children and youths’ needs are…are…really, um, significant and if they’re doing well in school, then the family’s a lot more stable and they feel more welcome and integrated…”

The screen changes to show the same room as before, but with the following words on top, in white font over black background: To learn more, visit our website at Canada.ca/refugees.

Narrator: To learn more, visit our website at Canada.ca/refugees.

The screen fades to black.

Copyright message “Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 2016” is displayed, followed by the Canada wordmark.

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