A Malayalam lamp illuminating Riverdale
A large number of young families from Kerala, an Indian state with a 93.91% literacy rate, have migrated to Hamilton in the past five years. The families, who live in Riverdale area, gather once a month in one of their residential apartment buildings. Each of them shares the information they have received in terms of job opportunities, health care, education, licensing requirements, and anything that helps the group. This monthly get together helps the new Kerala immigrants in Riverdale area to ease their struggle of settling down in their newly adopted country. They also focus to strengthen their cultural ties and keep their mother tongue Malayalam alive in this country.
Some of the prominent Kerala community members Saji Kollanthara, Benji Phiip, Biju Thomas and their friends offered their voluntary assistance to expand the practices of this group to new Kerala immigrants live in other parts of the city of Hamilton. They conducted their first ever networking event on December 27th at the Dominic Agostino Riverdale Community Centre in Hamilton. This cultural meet started with the delicious ethnic food and on this occasion, a facebook group “HAMILTON MALAYALEE ORUMA” was also launched by lighting the traditional Kerala style lamp. Another interesting segment of the meet was singing and music. The participants of all ages not only presented Malayalam music but also English songs.
The organizers of the meet highlighted the struggles that a new immigrant faces daily in settling down in a new country, and that how this group offers their mutual support with the slogan: “We care, we share”. The main objective of the group is to develop a network between the new immigrants from Kerala in Hamilton and to help each other settle into the new country in terms of education, job hunt, housing, child care, etc. They can now also post their needs and their free service announcements on the facebook group. The group also focuses on strengthening their cultural heritage, language, literature and their traditional arts.
About 50 families attended this event. Mr. Syed-Hamid Yazdani, Community Developer for Riverdale Neighbourhood as part of the Neighbourhood Action Strategy, explained the role and goals of the Riverdale Community Planning Team, the Neighbourhood Action Strategy, and the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton. He welcomed the Kerala community members on behalf of the local Planning Team and invited them to participate in the various resident-led initiatives to help make the Riverdale area more vibrant with its multiculturalism. Mr. Syed Yazdani also invited the Kerala community to join the Riverdale Community Planning Team meetings and encouraged them to take advantage of the programs and services offered at the Riverdale Community Centre by the City of Hamilton.
Local media CHCH news and Stoney Creek News has covered this event that helped the new immigrants living in the other parts of the city to know about this group and its services. The organizers are planning to continue such gatherings every month with the support of Riverdale Planning Team and the management of the D.A. Riverdale Community Centre.
Stoney Creek News: Networking group helps Hamilton’s Kerala community
CHCH: Welcoming newcomers from Kerala to Hamilton