‘It’s comforting for them’: Program pairs refugee children with culturally similar dolls and stuffed bears

Winnipeg’s Welcome Place to distribute 40 care packages to newcomer children

Kevine, 8, received this doll in her welcome package from the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council. She arrived in Winnipeg with her Congolese family in September. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Welcome packages for new refugees in Winnipeg will now pair young kids with a doll or stuffed bear dressed in clothing representing their homeland to help comfort them during the resettlement process.

“It’s a huge impact, [the journey] affects them emotionally, by receiving those dolls it’s kind of a relief, a comfort,” said Flora Aruna at the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council (MIIC), also known as Welcome Place.

The program, called Touch of Kindness, gives welcome packages containing either a doll or a teddy bear for children under 11 years old, while older kids get a tote filled with age-appropriate gifts like journals, music players, and books.

The MIIC already provides donated care packages to newcomers to help with their settlement, but going forward hope to include the dolls and bears to give children a companion to help them with the transition to a new country.

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