Building a village in Canada
First-time mother Chaitra found the supports she needed to raise her young son
My husband, son and I came to Canada in 2019 after immigrating to the U.S. from India. My son was born in the U.S. and my husband and I worked there for 10 years. But we were still waiting for our green card and we were tired of waiting. Becoming parents was a big milestone for us and we wanted to have one of us at home with our son for a year. Without a green card, if the working parent was laid off, we would have had to leave. So we decided to come to Canada.
When we arrived in Canada, our son was about 15 weeks old. I would take him to the library and there I learned about EarlyON programs for babies. When we moved to a new town, I looked up EarlyON and found the agency.
Through a newcomer parents program, I came to know a lot of other parents. It’s been great for my son, because we’ve set up play dates and it’s helped me learn more about the community here. There are a lot of informative sessions for me and lots of learning experiences for my son. I’ve learned how to build learning into playing with him at home.
As a first-time parent in the middle of COVID, I’ve questioned myself a lot about whether I’m exposing him to enough opportunities. The program has been extremely helpful in putting my mind at ease that I’m doing something right. I’ve seen my son develop at a rapid pace, especially when we could go to the centre, and he was surrounded by other kids.
When we moved to Canada, we came with no social capital. You really need a village to raise a child, but we had no one. We have steadily built our own village. I now have other parents to get advice from or to vent to when I need it. My son is thriving, COVID or not.”
The agency offers programming focused on child development, best parenting practices, play-based learning activities, educational guest speakers, relationship-building among families, and connections to community services.
Early in the pandemic, the agency shifted to virtual offerings including online coffee chats and outdoor educational programming. The agency even put together online learning kits for families to borrow to use at home to learn Spanish or yoga or do science and technology activities.
“We borrowed a learning kit to do yoga, which has really helped with some tantrums my son was having. So much thought has gone into those kits. We’ve also done some of the outdoor programs with an educator that have been great, too.
I am waiting for COVID restrictions to ease so that we can have more of a social life and continue to build our network here. If it wasn’t for COVID, I think we would have been at the family centre every day. I tell everyone I can about what is available there.”