Since 2013 the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program has supported music programs across Canada. To celebrate the announcement of our 2017 recipients, MusiCounts is sharing the stories of these music programs by featuring a different program each week.
This week, meet the Christie Refugee Welcome Centre in Toronto, ON. Manny Wong, who oversees the center’s Public Engagement and Donor Development, answered some of our question about the organization’s history, the impact of receiving instruments through the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program, and the next steps for the program.
Q: Can you tell us about the history of the Christie Refugee Welcome Centre?
A: Christie Refugee Welcome Centre is a 76-bed shelter in downtown Toronto dedicated to newly-arrived homeless refugee families. Each year, about ⅓ of our over 250 residents are children under the age of 12. Due to the large number of children living in our shelter, we decided to launch two after-school programs in 2013 – literacy and fitness. Both were huge successes and always at capacity as the children thoroughly enjoyed one-on-one help with their English skills and playing new sports.
We are so grateful to MusiCounts and TD for giving these children the opportunity to learn music that they otherwise would not have had.
Q: Why did your organization apply for a grant for musical instruments through the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program?
A: We applied to the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program because we just knew that a music program would allow these refugee children to shine just like our literacy and fitness programs did. As refugees, childhood has sadly gone sideways for them and all they need is an opportunity to reach their potential. We are so grateful to MusiCounts and TD for giving these children the opportunity to learn music that they otherwise would not have had.
…we purchased instruments that are culturally connected to where these children come from.
Q: What is the impact that receiving the grant has had on your students and community?
A: Without a doubt, these homeless refugee children would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn using all the instruments we were able to purchase through the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program. One great aspect is that we purchased instruments that are culturally connected to where these children come from. In addition to the ukulele and recorder, these children are also learning the clave, guiro, shekere, steel drum, djembe, and darbuka. How else could refugee children have the opportunity to learn such diverse instruments except through the generosity of the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program.
Q: What are the next steps for your organization since receiving the grant?
A: Our music program just started in November and the children are widely excited. Knowing their eagerness to learn, there’s no limit to what they can achieve musically.
To learn more about the work the Christie Refugee Welcome Centre does, follow them on social media and visit their website through the links below:
Get to know more program recipients by visiting the “News” section of our website each week or by subscribing to the MusiCounts newsletter.
Read last week’s blog featuring the BC Youth Chinese Orchestra from Vancouver, B.C.
See the full list of recipients from the 2017 MusiCounts TD Community music program here. Our next feature will be on the National Music Centre – Jam Club in Calgary, AB next week: Stay tuned!