The True North, Strong and Generous

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In 2007, I embarked on one of the biggest adventures of my life. I moved to Ontario from my home in the UK. Like most immigrants, I was seeking new opportunities and a better quality of life. I never imagined that becoming Canadian would teach me to adopt a lifestyle fully grounded in generosity. 

Before making the big move across the pond, I had visited Canada on a six-week holiday. Of course, I was fully aware that a vacation is not the same as living somewhere permanently but given that my future home was a commonwealth country, I thought it wouldn’t be too big of an adjustment. How wrong I was! 

A Unique Culture of Generosity 

Canada has a unique culture all its own, and generosity is central to its identity. In every region of the country, people of all ages and backgrounds contribute time and money to help one another, both within and outside their communities. These donations benefit the work of many important causes such as food banks, service organizations, shelters, hospitals, sports, arts and environmental organizations. This culture of giving is quite different from the one in which I grew up. 

Canada has a unique culture all its own, and generosity is central to its identity. 

My parents had immigrated to England in the late 50s to help rebuild the nation after World War 2. I often watched my mother extend warm hospitality to their friends and neighbours; however, due to negative experiences they restricted their kindness to those of the same culture. Mum and Dad were not church goers but believed in God and wanted their children to have a foundation of Christian faith. So, my siblings and I were sent to Sunday school at a local church. Deeply impacted by the love and teaching I received there, I made a commitment to follow the way of Jesus at the age of ten.  

Over the years, I participated in various activities including volunteering as an usher on Sundays and serving on the church events planning team. These experiences sparked a love of organizing fundraising events and making a difference in the lives of others. Although I had seen acts of kindness and generosity, it was my church community that taught me about giving and serving beyond what was familiar and comfortable. 

New Country, New Opportunities 

As I prepared to immigrate, I made a firm decision that my new life in Canada would include working in the non-profit sector, but upon arrival I encountered a lack of job prospects in the field. However, plenty of local charities were looking for volunteers. I stepped up, hoping to gain some valuable experience for my resume.  

I had often heard that diversity was one of the great strengths of my new country and working side by side with generous Canadians from all cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, and ethnicities, allowed me to see firsthand the thread of selfless compassion that knits us all together. Over the years, I have watched churches organize food drives to ensure vulnerable children have breakfast at school, women organize a makeover day for abused women living in a local shelter, friends gather to prepare hot chocolate, coffee and lunch packs to deliver to the homeless on Christmas Day and compassionate adults mentor youth in care. I have seen people from all walks of life donate money to help others live a better life. Seeing all these people practice generosity and warmly invite me to join them, ignited a lasting passion for giving and a deep pride in my new country. 

A Legacy of Generosity 

Today, I feel so privileged to play my small part in our country’s legacy of generosity. Volunteering with my local Children’s Aid Society brings enormous joy, and my work at Abundance Canada fills me with hope for the future.  

New immigrants … take on the mantle of giving, adding their own experiences to the mosaic of generosity in our country.  

The latest statistics show that Canadian philanthropy has shifted significantly in the last decade: fewer people are donating more money, which has resulted in a flatline of giving. However, everyday, Abundance Canada clients remind me that giving is an intrinsic part of our national identity. Thousands of men and women continue to carry on the tradition of generosity in Canada, and new immigrants, and their generations that follow, take on the mantle of giving, adding their own experiences to the mosaic of generosity in our country.  

Whether donating time, assets or money, living generously continues to add value to the economic stability of our great nation and supports charitable causes across the country and beyond our borders.  

Whether donating time, assets or money, living generously continues to add value to the economic stability of our great nation and supports charitable causes across the country and beyond our borders. Click to Tweet 

Barbara Chambers

 

 

Contributed by Barbara Chambers
Director of Communications

 

This story comes from our recent Annual Report: A World Where Everyone Lives Generously. Read more stories like Barbara’s here. 

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