‘We Are Neighbours’ is a social media campaign brought to you by the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership. The campaign showcases and celebrates the local diversity of Leeds Grenville residents. To view the weekly campaign posts and to learn more about the campaign, people are encouraged to visit www.weareneighbours.weebly.com, or the St. Lawrence – Rideau Immigration Partnership Facebook page www.facebook.com/LGimmigration.

Meet Ciony, who was born in the Philippines, and has lived in Europe, the U.S., as well as Asia and Canada. Ciony and her husband have always had a bit of the ‘travel bug’. Meeting in Laos, where they were both working in the 1960’s, they eventually made their way to Kemptville in 1981 after Ciony’s husband’s job brought him to Eastern Ontario. Always adventurers, they moved to Kemptville without ever seeing their new town or house! Overseas travel and work continued for them, but Kemptville remained their home base; Ciony and her husband returned in the late 1980’s and have lived in the same home ever since.

As someone from the Philippines, a country that places enormous value on friends and family, Ciony loved (and continues to love) the small-town feel of Kemptville. She got to know many people by offering her Filipina hospitality to neighbours. Introducing herself with a loaf of banana bread under her arm and invitations to join her for coffee enabled her to meet many people in the area. Ciony continues to welcome people to her home by regularly hosting 60+ people for International Friendship Club potlucks.

Finding work and making professional connections came as a challenge to Ciony when she arrived to Kemptville in the 1980’s. The town lacked employment agencies and so as much as she could, Ciony took the initiative to attend events and open houses of local organizations. She used these events to introduce herself, learn more about each organization and after much hard-work, eventually secure full time work with a local social services agency.

What advice would you give to a newcomer moving to Leeds Grenville from another country? ‘Don’t just stay home and vegetate. Go to the library, read the newspaper for things to do – go out and meet people. People are just waiting for you to smile to show your friendliness.’

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