The Central Alberta Refugee Effort (C.A.R.E.) continued a tradition that celebrates diversity in Canada and introduces new-comers to the activities that Canadians hold dear.
“Today we have our annual Community Sports and Barbecue Day,” Avery Acheson, C.A.R.E. intake and settlement manager, said. “It all started a few years ago when we decided we wanted to do something for immigrant/refugee youth and introduce them to Canadian sports.
“We started with a small group down at Bower Ponds a couple years and we had a group learning some different Canadian sports. We had baseball, flag football, Frisbee golf and things like that.”
While humble in its beginnings, the Sports Day has grown into a celebration of community and welcoming in the City of Red Deer.
“Through the years it has morphed into a big sports and community day all ending with a big community barbecue,” Acheson said. “Last year we had over 200 and this year we are expecting the same, if not more.”
Acheson noted sports has a way of bringing people together and helps promote common ties.
“A big part of growing up and being an adult is activity here in Canada,” he said. “Sports is one way to bring people together and it is that togetherness that matters. It is that community building that happens through sport. It is not necessarily all about learning how to play basketball, it is about engaging with the community through that sport.
“Adults and kids really enjoy that aspect because that is what its all about – this inter-community, intercultural sharing and the opportunity to meet people.”
The Sports Day requires hours of hard work put in by eager individuals, according to Acheson.
“Through our Immigrant Youth Programs, Settlement Programs and Community Connections Programs, we had a team of really dedicated, fun-loving individuals that got to together and planned this,” he said. “This whole thing comes from hours of planning and a lot of experience. There is a lot of passion happening here.”
Coincidentally, C.A.R.E. was able to celebrate this day just prior to the country’s Canada 150 celebrations. Acheson said that CARE focuses on one aspect of being Canadian in particular.
“A big part of Canada 150 that we celebrate is the diversity here in Canada,” he said. “As a nation of folks who have moved in, as well as aboriginal culture, we really love that diversity in Canada, and that is a big part of the 150 celebrations. This event happened so close to Canada Day, which is pretty cool as well.
“We are hoping that it brings together a community of new comers and a community of Canadians to really share what it means to Canadian. A big part of Canadian identity is community.”
Acheson wanted to thank the many groups who helped make the Community Sports and Barbecue Day happen.
“Thanks for everyone for coming out and thanks for the organizations who supported as today,” he said. “The City of Red Deer has been a big help for us today; we have Sport Ball Red Deer coming out; we have had support from Red Deer Minor Basketball; we have had the support of so many groups – Notre Dame High School, Lindsey Thurber High School and we also want to acknowledge our funding that made this possible as well through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Family Community Support Services here in Red Deer.”