Special to the Tribune
Seven years ago now, a coalition of local churches, the West Nipissing Community Health Centre and other interested community members formed the group Neighbours Without Borders – Voisins sans frontières, with the hope of sponsoring a refugee family for resettlement into the community of Sturgeon Falls. At the time, the original goal was to raise $30,000 dollars to support the family of 7 for one year, which is a requirement of the Ministry of Canadian Immigration and Citizenship. The community responded with unparalleled generosity, reaching $42,500 in just seven weeks.
However, the generosity did not end there. After two years of planning, Kashindi Monde and Adolphine Jules and their children along with Adolphine’s brother Gadi Jules arrived in Canada and Sturgeon Falls on February 14, 2017. For the occasion, the group piled onto a bus donated by Alouette Bus Lines and drove to the North Bay airport on a snowy cold winter’s night to welcome the tired family. It was Valentine’s day of course, so there was loads of love and goodwill sitting in every seat on that bus.
That was five years ago now and the people of West Nipissing were both welcoming and generous in every way to this newcomer family. Our Lady of Sorrows School and Northern High School accommodated the students who had not had much formal education. Only one of them had a working knowledge of English at the time. The Multicultural Centre in North Bay as well as the Literacy Alliance of West Nipissing stepped in to help mom and dad with their English skills. Many people provided clothing and furniture to set them up. It was a community endeavor from the start. After ayear, the family moved to Windsor where there were better job opportunities for the father.
Not long ago, the family took their oath of citizenship and officially became Canadian Citizens. Unfortunately, because of COVID restrictions, the citizenship ceremony could not be held in person so the family made their oath via a Zoom call. But this did not take away from the pride and sense of accomplishment they all felt.