St. Thomas Times-Journal November 19th, 2015

It’s nothing but lights, camera, action for some of Elgin county’s newcomers, who are making their small screen debut on Rogers Television.

Each episode of We Are St. Thomas-Elgin highlights a different immigrant’s story about what it was like to come to Canada, how they settled in the region and the organizations that helped them along the way.

Though the first installment of the show aired in September, dozens packed the showroom at GCW Custom Kitchens and Cabinetry Tuesday afternoon for a Hollywood style launch party, complete with wine, international fare, presentations and a highlight reel of the program.

The show came about through a partnership between the St. Thomas-Elgin Local Immigration Partnership, regional Workforce Planning and Development Board and Rogers Television and was funded through the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Each of the six 30 minute commercial-free programs features interviews with newcomers and local service providers and includes a cooking segment filmed at GCW Custom Kitchens. The show is designed to be entertaining and informative for immigrants and life-long Canadians alike.

“We covered things that we think could be useful for newcomers,” Petrusia Hontar, project coordinator at the STELIP.

“The idea of the show is to help other newcomers understand what they can access. That’s a huge challenge, that people just don’t know.”

Most residents understand that they can access free services at public libraries or the health unit, but Hontar said it is not always the case for newcomers.

“We grew up knowing that we can get healthcare, we can get help at libraries that is free, but not everyone comes from a country where these things exist,” she said, adding agencies like the YWCA and Central Community Health Centre were featured prominently in the show.

The production team is preparing to film the sixth and final episode of We Are St. Thomas-Elgin’s first season and talks are underway about the second one. Rogers is airing one episode each month until the new year and then will launch reruns of each show weekly.

We Are St. Thomas-Elgin is hosted by Paul Jenkins and local chef Cindy Bircham. For clips from the show or to access the program schedule, visit