What country are you from?!

My favourite thing about Canada by far is its multiculturalism. I feel blessed to live in a country where there is an equal celebration of racial, religious, and cultural backgrounds. Living in the GTA makes it that much better, as many of Canada’s immigrants move to this area. Toronto alone is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, with immigrants coming from over 200 different countries!

Now we may know of the amount of immigrants in Canada, but do we ever stop and think how hard it must be for them to make the drastic change? Some of us were born in Canada, and some of us weren’t. I, for example, was not born in Canada; my family made the big move back in 1999 and though adjusting was hard at first, we definitely found our way and now we couldn’t be prouder to be Canadians. Though, for some people, it’s not so easy. Moving to a place where you don’t know anyone, you don’t speak the language, and you’re not accustomed to society trends? Sounds scary.

Luckily for immigrants now, the Catholic Community Services of York Region (CCSYR) offers a comprehensive array of services and programs to address the social needs of the rapidly expanding communities of York Region. From housing services, to English language classes, to employment support services, the 5 Welcome Centres across the GTA provide immigrants with a place to start on their new life in Canada.

One of the many events that CCSYR holds is the Community Cup in partnership with York Regional Police. The Community Cup brings together both Canadian citizens and newcomers during a day filled with activities, games, music, dancing, and the main event- a soccer tournament! With the help of Faye Roberts, Program Coordinator for the Integration Network, I had the chance to make an appearance as Miss Teenage GTA 2014 at the event last Saturday, June 7th, and it was an absolute blast!

When I first arrived, I walked around and introduced myself to everyone and I was blown away by how friendly everyone was- they really made me feel welcome there! It was an event that truly brought everyone together! All day, I had people come up to me wanting to talk and take pictures 🙂 I told them all about myself and the pageant, and their support really touched my heart. They all wished me good luck this July and will be rooting for me! How sweet!

Me with the celebrity bird and the handler!

As I was a special guest at the event, I was given the chance to give a short speech in the opening ceremony, during which I again told them a little about myself and the pageant, mentioning my aim to promote excellence for young women in all avenues of life, and be an overall positive role model to youth. I also spoke about Canada’s views and ideas on equality, and introduced an fun activity! In spirit of FIFA, we had 2 tickets to win to a soccer match for the Woman’s Under 20 Team (which Canada qualified for!). We had Hands On Exotics(thank you!) bring in a parrot who ‘chose’ the team that will be winning the FIFA 2014 World Cup! It was a pretty cool experience!

Who will win the FIFA World Cup 2014?

2 gold, 1 silver Olympic medals!

The rest of the day consisted of participating in the other event activities! I watched the soccer game, spoke with some more people, spent some time in the Kids Zone (where I surprised the little girls with sparkly crown headbands so they could be little princesses!), took pictures with people, and even spent time with a woman’s hockey three-time winning Olympic athlete! (The kids LOVED her metals which she so generously brought to show us!). In addition to all that, there were other activities such as a traditional Chinese dragon dance, a traditional Filipino dance group and a yoga session! There was even a game I participated in, in which I got to learn common sayings and short sentences in different languages, like Greek and Russian! I loved how the whole event showed Canada’s amazing diversity!

I love kids!

Chinese dragon dance!

Ahh... what's better than some relaxing yoga in the sun?

Canadian pride!

The York Region Community Cup was definitely an experience I’ll remember and I can’t wait to participate next year! I think it’s a great way to bring the community together, and helps break down barriers, all while supporting diversity and cultural inclusion. I’d like to thank Faye Roberts for letting me be a part of this event because I had a great time and learned a lot from all the citizens and newcomers! And thank you to CCSYR for creating this amazing event! (Check them out on Facebook here!)

What will I be up to next? Stay tuned to find out! 😉

xoxo, Odeta

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