The English-as-a-Second Language program has run for the last two summers for recent refugee families in the area.
This year, enrollment rose from 37 to 60, said organizer Sharon Churchill Roe, as “we have many new families in the area, and we also opened our doors to other newcomers from other countries.”
“We were glad our new friends were interested in continuing the program,” said Roe, who is manager of Acadia’s English Language Centre.
Lena Diab, minister of immigration, brought greetings from the province once again this year.
She said new immigrants are increasing the population of Nova Scotia. Figures from last year indicate that 4,853 newcomers came to the province, the highest number of arrivals since the end of the Second World War.
Diab added that new immigrants bring rich cultural traditions with them and enhance Nova Scotia both economically and socially.
Acadia University president Peter Ricketts congratulated all the students and told them their ceremony was his first graduation at Acadia.
He said as a new immigrant himself many years ago he was grateful he decided to stay on.
Being British, Ricketts said, “I didn’t have to learn English, but I did have to learn Canadian English. I am in awe of you coming here and adopting a different language, culture and history.”
The president told the children he suspects that their parents had primarily come to Nova Scotia “for you, to make a better life for you. They sacrificed a lot I suspect.”
Ricketts added, “when I look at you I see Canada in the 21st century.”
Roe thanked all the volunteers, but particularly two students from last year, Mahmoud and Mayar Tahina, who returned to help.
A new immigrant from Laos thanked all those who contributed to the learning about community, culture and health and she said, “my language has improved a lot and I feel success in English.”
Partners in the program this year were Kentville Rotary, the YMCA, and Valley Community Learning Association.
Presentations from each of the children’s classes concluded the ceremony.