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Holly Benna is a passionate advocate, and happens to be our 2020 Tenth Global summer intern. Hear her perspective on the shared experiences of camping earlier this month. 

Last week, some newcomers to Canada and some friends from Tenth spent some time on Thetis Island, making memories at Pioneer Pacific Camp. We spent the week sharing meals together, kayaking, swimming, doing archery, and spending time by the ocean. For many of the women, these were totally new experiences. It was so exciting to be part of this first experience of camp, to witness the rest and wonder that are so present in spending time on one of BC’s gulf islands.

As we paddled our kayaks and canoes across the water, women shared some of their stories with me. Stories of their lives back home, their families, their careers and education. I was completely blown away by their resilience, their ability to persevere through the challenging circumstances of fleeing their home country, and their resilience while learning the new skill of kayaking on the Ocean. We traded book recommendations and favourite foods, and I was so incredibly honoured to hear stories of their dreams and desires. I am so excited that some of these dreams and desires are becoming more possible as relationships are formed and a community of support grows. Even though I had just met everyone days before, I had the feeling that we had all known each other for years. I went to camp with the intention of being a welcoming presence to newcomers to Canada, but they ended up being the ones who welcomed me.

Tenth provides housing and basic necessities of life for asylum seekers during their first few months in Canada (modeled after our ministry partner Journey Home Community), but what is even more valuable than this tangible support is a network of friends with a shared experience. Over the past few months, this community of newcomer women have created a powerful support system that spans multiple religions and ethnicities, and it was so beautiful to witness this at Camp last week.

If you want to hear more about how Tenth is partnering with refugees in our community, or maybe even get involved, come to the Borders to Beginnings event on Sept 12! It will be an opportunity to connect and a time of storytelling. Click here for more information.