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Community Services


New to Canada? YMCA Connections helps new immigrants make Canada home

Moving to a new country is a big step, and there sure is a lot to learn about living in Canada. It can be difficult to meet people and find the basic information you need. At the YMCA, we provide access to the people, programs and facilities to help you learn, thrive, make friends and have fun in your new community. YMCA Connections provides newcomers to Canada with a welcoming and inclusive community—a place of support where you can build communication skills and make the connections you need to succeed.

Through our partnerships with DIVERSEcity, MOSAIC and a variety of other community organizations, our free programs are offered to adult permanent residents who have been in Canada for less than three years and are based out of the Robert Lee YMCA in downtown Vancouver and the Tong Louie Family YMCA in Surrey (location offerings below).

Robert Lee YMCA

Canadian Fitness Connection

The Canadian Fitness Connection is a fitness and cultural integration program for new immigrants. This three-month course includes an introduction to a variety of Canadian sports and fitness activities. In each three-hour class half of the time is spent in participatory workshops which help newcomers understand Canadian culture and how to adapt to life in Canada. Topics include coping skills, job search, food and nutrition, and so forth. The remaining time is dedicated to a fitness activity—participants learn to play basketball, try boxing, do a zumba class, go for a hike in a nearby park and more! This is a great opportunity to build language skills, learn about Canadian culture and develop a healthier lifestyle.

This 12-week course runs on Saturdays from 1:00 to 4:00p.m. Next course start date is September 5, 2013. To register, submit a completed application to connections at no later than August 23, 2013.

Intercultural Conversation Club

The Intercultural Conversation Club brings together up to 50 participants each week to practice English, develop intercultural communication skills, learn about Canadian culture, and expand social and professional networks. The sessions help newcomers become familiar with issues important to them, with a new topic each week. Trained volunteer facilitators, who were either born in Canada or are long-time residents, lead small group discussions. The Intercultural Conversation Club is a drop-in class and takes place on Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:00p.m.

To take part in the Intercultural Conversation Club, participants must register on MeetUp at

Spanish Conversation Club

¿Hablas español? Learning is more fun together, especially when it comes to a new language. Through our weekly Spanish Conversation Club, participants not only practice Spanish and learn about Latin American cultures, but they also have a chance to meet new people and connect with one another. This drop in program happens every Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and is led by trained facilitators from Latin America. Participants must have a basic command of Spanish and be able to communicate about common everyday topics. Check out our calendar of topics in English or in Spanish.

To learn more or register, contact connections at or visit our MeetUp page (here).

Community and Educational Events

These fun and educational activities help newcomers connect to their communities, make new friends, develop English skills and enable them to share their cultures with Canadian-born participants. From social activities such as Christmas, Lunar New Year and Persian New Year festivities, to excursions like visits to City Hall or hikes to local trails, you don’t want to miss this! All activities are conducted in ESL-friendly English.

To learn more about upcoming community and educational events, participants must register on MeetUp at

Summer Art in the Parks

Move over cold, rainy days, summer is just around the corner! The Summer Art in the Parks project will bring youth leaders into city parks throughout the summer, to encourage discussion on multiculturalism and the elimination of racism. Participants receive leadership training and ride bike “art carts” to parks all over the city where they engage the public in conversation around multiculturalism and racism. Members of the public will be invited to create pieces of art expressing their ideas on these subjects, which will be displayed in various venues in Vancouver in Fall 2013.

To register, submit a completed application form no later than February 15th to For more information, please contact Jeanine Ball at 604.673.6171.

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This project is made possible through funding from the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia.

For more information, about Connections Programs at the Robert Lee YMCA, please contact 604-685-8066 or email connections at

Tong Louie Family YMCA

Welcoming and Inclusive Communities

For more information about Welcoming and Inclusive Communities projects in Surrey, please go to

Canadian Life Skills

This interactive course helps newcomers learn about Canadian culture and develop communication skills. Topics include identification of strengths and assets, coping skills, intercultural communication, business culture & communication, community resources, gender roles, parenting, fitness & nutrition and goal-setting & action planning.

This 12-week course runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:15 to 3:15p.m. Next course start dates are September 13, 2013 and January 7, 2014.

Citizenship Preparation and Civic Involvement

Based on the Discover Canada Study Guide, this course helps participants prepare for the Canadian Citizenship Test, while helping them become more aware of the multiple ways they can be active Canadian citizens.

This 12-week course runs on Wednesdays from 12:15 to 3:15p.m. or on Saturdays from 9:30a.m. to 12:30p.m. Next course start dates are September 11, 2013 (Wednesday session) or September 14, 2013 (Saturday session).

Women’s Self Employment

This course helps women explore self-employment options and learn about small business in Canada. An important component of the course is skill development related to Canadian business fundamentals, including intercultural communication, business communication, identification of strengths and assets, coping skills, conflict resolution and negotiating skills.

This 12-week course runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00a.m. to 12:00p.m. Next course start dates are September 10, 2013 or January 7, 2014.

Men’s Intercultural Group

In this course, learning about Canadian sports and fitness is a gateway to connecting participants with one another while helping them become more aware of Canadian cultural norms. Part of each class is spent in a fitness or sport activity, including swimming, basketball, yoga, curling or hiking, and the other part of the class is spent in a facilitated discussion about Canadian culture.

This 12-week course runs on Saturdays from 1:00 to 4:00p.m. Next course start dates are September 14, 2013 or January 4, 2014.

For more information, about Connections programs at the Tong Louie Family YMCA, please contact Linda Rubuliak at 604-673-6177 or

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