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Island newcomer recognized for help in community with diversity, inclusion and engagement

Li Yuan Ma receives the Community Leader, Atlantic Region award from the Jean-Yves Duclos, federal minister of Families, Children and Social Development recently in Ottawa. Ma will donate the $1,000 grant associated with her recognition package to the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada.
Li Yuan Ma receives the Community Leader, Atlantic Region award from the Jean-Yves Duclos, federal minister of Families, Children and Social Development recently in Ottawa. Ma will donate the $1,000 grant associated with her recognition package to the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada. - Submitted

A P.E.I. newcomer has received some national recognition.

Recently, Li Yuan Ma was recognized for her outstanding contributions to her community at Canada’s Volunteer Awards in Ottawa.

Ma was named Community Leader for the Atlantic region at the awards, which took place on Dec. 5. The awards were presented by Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.

The award recognized Ma due to her commitment to helping others, particularly fellow newcomers to Canada.

“Not only has Li Yuan become a role model for newcomers moving and making a new home on P.E.I., but she has also educated the community at large on diversity, inclusion and engagement,’’ said a press release from the federal government.

Ma identified the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada (PEIANC) to receive the $1,000 grant associated with her recognition package.

Ma said she knew immediately where her donation was going.

“Newcomers face difficult barriers, including learning a new language and culture, finding employment, dealing with Canadian weather, developing new social networks and more,’’ said Ma. “The staff at PEIANC assist newcomers every day.

“They are compassionate, helping people who work to make sure all newly-arrived immigrants and refugees get the best possible start for their new lives in P.E.I. and in Canada. I’m very honoured to make the donation to PEIANC.’’

This isn’t the only time Ma has supported the PEIANC. Last summer, she received a grant to help fund the organization’s DiverseCity event, an annual street festival that brings together new and established Islanders to celebrate multiculturalism. She encouraged more than 100 of her co-workers at RBC, the title sponsor of the 2017 DiverseCity, to volunteer at the festival and raised $13,000 for the event.

RBC also funded PEIANC’s Language and Literacy for Life Program, which provided additional support materials and training for the organization’s volunteer English-as-an-additional-language tutors.

The PEIANC plans to put the donation towards social inclusion and integration programming for newcomers. Some of the inclusion activities that the association currently puts on include women’s and men’s groups, an informal weekly meet-up called Friday Friendship Hour, a volunteer EAL tutoring program, and the DiverseCity summer street festivals, among others.

Social programs such as these can ease newcomers’ transition into Canadian life while also helping to starve off the isolation that so often comes with moving to a new country.

For more information, contact Nancy Clement at 902-628-6009, ext. 217.

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