OTTAWA -- Children were given the gift of new Christmas traditions at a special holiday party for newcomers Saturday.

Close to 100 people gathered in a party room of an apartment building on Donald Street for the 4th Annual 1 Resource Annual Christmas Giving Program.

Toni Jacob, the program director, says “It all started when I realized that a lot of Africans coming to Ottawa, it is their first Christmas and they don’t know anything about Canadian Christmas. (We just wanted) to welcome the newcomers coming to Ottawa and having their first Christmas in Canada.”

Jacob says the first Christmas in a new country can be challenging as many try to adjust to new cultures, new languages and different traditions. “Finding support is the biggest challenge. Not being able to come out and find people to help them get around. Looking for vouchers, looking for food, looking for gifts and organization that can help them get around.”

She says this is a chance to give children something to look forward, introducing them to Santa, reindeers, and candy canes. “Most of them are not celebrating Christmas the way that we are celebrating. They are enjoying it with other children who are the same age as them and celebrating what Christmas is all about... and that’s giving.”

The program partners with Toy Mountain and the Caring and Sharing Exchange to give gifts to every child as well as food vouchers for families.

Children meet Santa, received gifts, toys, ate party food and played games. 

Nine-year-old Sefunmi Asambe came to Canada in September. “I think Canada is a beautiful place...  and I think Canada is a place where you can have lots of fun and freedom.”

12-year-old Henry has come to this party for the second year after coming to Canada from Zimbabwe. “It’s a time come all together. Get along. Have fun and celebrate.”