While it's a country that's famous for its frigid winter weather, Canada is also celebrated around the world for its warm, welcoming heart.
Zaynna Khalife, Norman Yeung, Andrew Prashad, John Jarvis, and Chiamaka Glory in The New Canadian Curling Club, Drayton Entertainment, 2023 Season. Directed by Jane Spence; Set Design by Beckie Morris; Costume Design by Alex Amini; Lighting Design by Jeff JohnstonCollins; Stage Manager Grace Batten; Assistant Stage Manager Rebecca Miller; Photography by Jenni Grandfield.
The New Canadian Curling Club, which is at Huron Country Playhouse until August 20, is a hit comedy that champions the values of acceptance, diversity, inclusivity, and community.
It begins when four immigrants from China, India, Jamaica and Syria join a small town’s free, introductory “Learn to Curl” class that is led by a Canadian of Scottish heritage.
The characters’ journeys throughout the play demonstrate that both newcomers and Canadians whose ancestors arrived from Europe several generations ago can find common ground (or ice) that brings them together.
Settling in a new country is not without challenges. Cultures and customs that are alien to each other can sometimes clash, and The New Canadian Curling Club uses humour to show the audience that they, too, have a role to play in addressing those misunderstandings.
Because it’s live theatre, the audience is an active participant in the comedy.
Mark Crawford, writer of The New Canadian Curling Club
In a note for the Drayton Entertainment production, the play’s author, Mark Crawford, observed, “Because it’s live theatre, the audience is an active participant in the comedy. Just as people use humour in various ways, our responses come from innumerable sources: delight, surprise, shock, discomfort, recognition, connection. Having seen several different productions of this play, some of my favourite laughs are the ones where audience members start laughing, then catch themselves, then question whether or not they should be laughing, and then laugh at their own discomfort from having laughed in the first place.”
People have lived in what is now Canada for approximately 12,000 years. The first inhabitants were Paleolithic hunter-gatherers who crossed the ancient Bering land bridge, which spanned the gap between present-day Siberia and Alaska, and they spread across the lands that became North America.
There are currently over 630 First Nations communities in Canada, from more than 50 distinct Nations that speak 50 different Indigenous languages.
The first Europeans to settle on the continent that Indigenous people refer to as Turtle Island were the Vikings, who landed at places that are now known as Baffin Island and Labrador. From 990 to 1050, they established a colony in what became L'Anse-aux-Meadows in Newfoundland.
Just a few decades after confederation, early 20th century immigration contributed to Canada’s growth. This was followed by a baby boom in the 20 years that followed the Second World War, when the population reached 20 million. In 1995, immigration became the main source of the country’s growth, primarily driven by efforts to supplement its aging workforce. In 2015, there were more Canadians aged 65 and older than under 15 for the first time.
By June 2023, the population of Canada had risen to 40 million, having doubled in the space of 57 years. Canada grew by 1,050,110 people in 2022 alone.
Unfortunately, there have been times when some immigrants weren’t welcomed; despite that, Canadians at large have stepped up and found ways to make their new fellow citizens feel settled.
In 2019, Canada topped Gallup’s Migration Acceptance Index. There was praise for its dynamic immigration system, which responds to the country’s economic needs, and immigration contributed to almost 100 per cent of the growth in its labour force.
The revered Frommer travel guide noted that Canada is within the top 10 nations on the Social Progress Index, which assesses health, safety, education, technology, and human rights.
Canada is seen as a world leader in refugee resettlement, due to its private sponsorship program that enables Canadians to sponsor refugees, and it topped the 2020 list of Most Tolerant Nation, according to Frommer. The revered travel guide noted that Canada is within the top 10 nations on the Social Progress Index, which assesses health, safety, education, technology, and human rights. Frommer said, “The True North Strong and Free has adopted multiculturalism as official policy and repeatedly reaffirmed the value of immigration.”
Immigration has helped to create a society in Canada that has a unique ethnic and cultural richness. Established and newer Canadians - and Indigenous people - build mutual respect and understanding by spending time together, perhaps while sharing an appreciation of a sport or the arts.
No matter where they come from, Canada continues to welcome people from all over the world for a diversity of reasons. And regardless of the language that they speak, they all use their own version of the same word to describe this place:
Drayton Entertainment is committed to creating safe spaces for our audience members and suggests the following local newcomer resources should you require support.
Immigration Partnership is a collaboration of community service, business, municipal and post-secondary organizations and Waterloo Region residents working together to create the conditions for immigrants to succeed and help build a welcoming, dynamic community.
165 Elmwood Ave E, London, ON 519-336-9622 Website
A community-wide, multi-sectoral partnership that works to increase collaboration between settlement agencies and smooth the settlement and integration experiences for newcomers.
789 Broadway St. Wyoming, ON 519-344-2062 ext. 2161 Website
Assist immigrants by connecting them with services and providing information to raise awareness about services and accessibility.
300 Dufferin Ave., London ON 519-661-2489 ext. 7377 Website
Focused on enriching community through services and advocacy, furthering the success and sense of belonging of newcomers and individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Take three women who are suffering post-break-up despair, add some girl group harmonies from the 60s and 70s, mix with a healthy dash of tears, laughter and sisterhood, and you have the comical cocktail of hilarity, Bittergirl – The Musical. To whet your appetite, here are some fun facts about the history of the hysterical comedy.