This project, organized by the St. Thomas-Elgin Local Immigration Partnership, features the photography of six newcomers to St. Thomas and Elgin County. The individual photos are combined with a small description, written by the photographers themselves, on what the photo says about their experience settling and living in Canada. Whether sad, frustrated, hopeful or inspiring, it’s an honest look at the settlement experiences of these six individuals, and thousands like them.


Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Helena lived in Kansas before moving to Tillsonburg. She is now 22 but moved here at 11 and met her future husband here when she was 18. They were married when she was 20 and had her daughter at 21. At home she speaks Low German and English. One thing she misses most about Mexico is her relatives and the spicy Mexican food. She enjoys taking photos, reading, and spending time with her little family. Her favourite thing about St.Thomas/Elgin is the scenery!

No matter how dark the day, the sun always shines through!
We save as much as we can, but give so much of it to government taxes! It can sometimes make it hard to live in this country.
When these trees were seeds, my family roots were in Germany. When they were saplings, we moved to Holland and then to Russia. As these trees grew, my family tree grew and moved around the world.
I’m always thankful that there is beauty to be found on even the coldest days.
My life is in this picture: my husband, his job, and our daughter Delilah. This is my life in Canada.


Lina is 23 years old and was born in Sudan. Growing up, she has lived in Sudan and Saudi Arabia; she now lives with her mother and sister in St. Thomas. Although she likes St. Thomas—it’s quiet with nice views and amazing people—she misses her grandparents back home. Her hobbies include painting, cooking, and reading.

I hope that I can find my truth. I hope you find yours, too.
My journey from Sudan to Canada has been difficult, but I am always thankful for beautiful scenes of nature right outside my front door.
I feel like two people: a woman in Sudan and a woman in Canada. Like this photo, I feel like sometimes I need to be refocused so that who I am is clear.


Born in Yokohama Japan, Mai has lived in Christchurch and Queenstown, New Zealand, and Toronto and Hamilton before settling in St. Thomas. Mai and her husband have a two-year-old daughter who will soon become a sister. For Mai, St. Thomas is a good-sized city with everything that she needs and surrounded by nature. While she loves St. Thomas, she misses her family and friends from back home and bathing in a deep bathtub every day. Her hobbies include cooking, reading (Japanese books), crocheting and knitting, traveling, hiking, gardening and spending time with friends

I was never pulled in a sled as a child; there was not enough snow where I grew up in Japan. But snow is a part of our life here, and I enjoy playing in the snow with my daughter and husband, even though it is very cold. We keep our daughter safe, guiding her in life away from the dark and towards the light.
I hope my daughter’s life is full of colour, with her feet on the ground and ready to dance.
In Japan, there was a lot of pressure to conform; I feel like in Canada, my possibilities are endless. Even though it can seem far away, I am thankful that I am free to travel to my life’s horizon in whatever way I wish.
Winter was difficult, but my daughter gives our lives so much excitement and brightens up even the coldest days. Winter is not too bad any more.
The longer I live in Canada, I notice many different shades and colours of snow: from pure and beautiful to dark and sometimes even brown. My life in Canada has been the same: experiences in my new country that were beautiful like the white, fluffy snow, and others that were not so beautiful, like the brown slush at the side of the road.


Saki was born in Japan and is married with 11 and 6-year-old boys. She finds the people in St. Thomas and Elgin helpful and friendly. She really misses the food, especially ramen. Her hobbies include playing basketball and drawing.

I never thought that I would miss the sun as much as I do during the long Canadian winter!
No matter where I am, my experiences with my children are the same. They teach me so much, and I learn from them every day.
In the winter I am like this bird: unable to fly.
I never had the opportunity to shovel snow in Japan, and so in Canada I shovel every time that it snows. It gets me outside and is a great chance to chat with my neighbour.
In Canada, I sometimes feel like this tree: unable to grow, unable to become independent and strong due to language and cultural barriers.


Yana was twelve years old at the time of this project. She was born in London, England but has lived in Nigeria and Toronto before moving to St. Thomas. She is a twin. In St. Thomas she likes how friendly some people are. She likes to run. Things she misses about her life before Canada are the food and her old friends.

Even though we come from the same blood, we are best friends.
I shine through the darkest trees.


Yani was twelve years old at the time of the project. She was born in London, England but has lived in Nigeria and Toronto before moving to St. Thomas. She is the oldest of four siblings (one is a twin). Her favourite things in St. Thomas are her school, friends, the nature, River Valley and Boler mountain. She likes fashion, balancing things on her head, playing basketball, and running. She wants to be a soldier when she is older. Things she misses about her life before Canada is going for walks, chasing chickens and swimming in her pool.

Smiling makes the world go ‘round, so give someone a smile; I’m sure you’ll make their day.
Even when obstacles get in your way, the sky is always the limit.
People are like rainbows; every colour is something beautiful
Friends are my second family, and when you have friends, you are never alone.
The moon it goes beyond from what I see you may see a big bright circle but I see a light, a light that’s bringing me to destiny.