What inspired RVezy to offer this trip to the Toubeh family?
Both RVezy Founders have had direct experience with many of the struggles experienced by newcomers to Canada, and refugees specifically. Michael McNaught is a police officer and has seen the struggles new Canadians have integrating into our society. He has seen the optimism and enthusiasm of newcomers and simultaneously the lack of community support needed to really excel in their new environment. Will Thompson, also a co-founder, is a military veteran having served a tour of duty in Afghanistan and has seen the war-torn environments like the one the Toubeh family fled from. The idea came about when both Michael and Will were brainstorming about who would be best suited for an RV trip. Why not a family who hasn’t had the chance to experience the beauty and culture of their new country?
How did you decide the route of your road trip?
With 2017 being Canada’s 150th anniversary we felt that it would be important to start of the trip directly from Parliament Hill. From there we mapped out some exciting landmarks that that not only exemplify the great diversity of Ontario but, also showcases the variety of attractions accessible while RVing. We were fortunate enough to stay at a private campground, visit Fort Henry, Sandbanks Provincial Park, Canada’s Wonderland and finish it off in beautiful Algonquin Provincial Park.
From your conversations, did the family tell you about any struggles they’ve experienced during their settlement journey?
The Toubeh family was incredible. They were full of energy and excitement and were equally as enthusiastic about learning about their new Canadian culture as we were of learning about their path to Canada. It took over 3 years for the Toubeh’s to get to Canada after leaving Syria. They shared first hand stories of friends and family members being killed while fleeing Syria. It was sobering hear, but also inspiring to witness the bravery and perseverance of this young family and to see the strong values that have kept them together and grounded on this incredible journey.
After this experience, how do you think RVezy can further help the local neighborhood newcomers integrate?
At RVezy we strive to make RV travel affordable. While RVing in Canada is a passionate past time for many, it is often out of reach to most Canadians. We will continue to reach out to new communities and local neighborhoods to continue to promote the RV industry and the amazing destinations across Canada that are even more thrilling when experienced in an RV. The sharing economy has enabled all Canadians, new and old, to come together and share in the wonder of our country.
How do you think RVezy employees accompanying the Toubeh family enhanced their roadtrip?
Minutes into the road trip RVezy employees, family members and the Toubeh family quickly became lifelong friends. Everyone shared in the fun and planning. Sharing stories by the campfire, cooking together, or swimming in the frigid waters of Lake Ontario in June were all a part of the bonding experience. The Toubehs continue to stay in close contact with everyone from the trip. It was really heartwarming to see the friendships develop over the short 4-day trip
What are the main takeaways your company, as a whole, got from offering the Toubeh family this experience?
I think RVezy really grew as a team during this adventure. Not only were we able to bond as a new company but, we also experienced tremendous outpouring of support from the Canadian community as a whole. The warm messages we received from across the country were heartfelt and compassionate. This experience showed that not only is RVing a great Canadian past time but it appeals to all walks of life.
Why do you think companies should engage with newcomers in their community?
I think all businesses have a responsibility to the community to engage in positive community involvement. It is an opportunity not only to give back to people in our neighborhood, but also an opportunity to pay it forward. Our community involvement at RVezy is a true reflection of our intrinsic values as a company and as individuals.
We are a nation built on inclusiveness and acceptance and we should be
welcoming newcomers to Canada not only with open arms, but also by
introducing them to our culture and practices that so many enjoy.
It’s a simple way to assist their immersion into Canadian society – and we can’t deny it’s incredibly fun for us as well.
What three pieces of advice would you give to companies wanting to help newcomers in their communities?
- Get involved with engagement. By getting personally involved you are truly able to appreciate the value of newcomers and appreciate their struggles and diversity. The Toubeh’s welcomed us with open arms and we were so fortunate to learn their story and experience some of their culture.
2. Reach out directly to the community. There are amazing community groups solely focused on helping newcomers integrate into Canada. By connecting directly with these stakeholders they will be able to point you in the right direction, answer any questions you may have and assist you in setting up a program that will be effective.
3. Don’t underestimate. We were blown away with the level of excitement of the Toubeh’s. Their English was incredible, given they only have 12 months with a new language, and they were extremely excited to learn about RVing. Our experience with the Toubeh’s really showed us how appreciative they were to be in Canada, and experience something that not only they would not have had the opportunity to do, but an experience that was completely foreign to their life experience outside of Canada. I think we forget that most newcomers are arriving from countries where one can’t just travel from one part of the country to another freely. The concept has never existed for them. Perhaps we take it for granted, and we shouldn’t.
Thanks to the RVezy team for this interview and leading by example on how to engage with newcomers in your community. Check out their website and book your own RV adventure now!
Kitty Shephard is the director of communications and outreach for Welcome Home TO