The Newcomer Champion Awards acknowledge the work that is happening locally in St. Thomas and Elgin County to build welcoming, caring, and inclusive communities.

These recipients were nominated by members of the St. Thomas-Elgin community for their many contributions to making St. Thomas-Elgin a welcomingcaring, and inclusive community!

Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion 

The Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion award recognizes a commitment to go above and beyond and support newcomers by:

  • Working with the community to address the needs of newcomers by recognizing and responding to the diverse local needs
  • Developing an understanding of our local cultural diversity
  • Working to  strengthen the community by working with others to build positive changes
  • Volunteering to support diversity and newcomers and are advocating for social and civic inclusion
  • Delivering services that provide the groundwork for newcomers to be socially and economically connected to their communities


San Sok was among the first Cambodian Refugees to arrive in St. Thomas in the 1980’s. Once he was able to get established in the community he began his work supporting other Cambodian settlers to reunite with their families. This work included support with sponsorship applications, and support with settling once they arrived. Today San is a leader in the Cambodian community, one of the largest ethnic groups in the region, and is well respected among his peers.


Mennonite Community Services reached out to CCHC and identified an opportunity for CCHC to provide inter-professional health care to the Mennonite/Amish communities of Elgin County. Although this community was outside of the catchment area, CCHC was able to obtain permission to offer culturally appropriate services to this community that traditionally were not accessing services. A team of nurse practitioners, physicians, registered practical nurses, volunteers and a system navigator work to provide primary care, assistance accessing OHIP, and navigating the Provincial Health Care System.

Newcomer Leader Award

This award acknowledges a newcomer who is helping to build a Welcoming, Caring, and Inclusive community by giving back to the community in some capacity. This winner is:

  • Committed to making a difference by creating welcoming communities
  • Giving back to the community in a positive and progressive way
  • Working with the community to strengthen and build positive changes

Maria came to St. Thomas from Nicaragua by way of London. Since moving to St. Thomas, Maria has grown her coffee roasting business Las Chicas Del Cafe with her sister and employed St. Thomas Community members.  A year ago, she partnered with another community member to open Streamliners Espresso Bar, and this location has quickly become a community gathering place offering free concerts every month.They actively participate in all community events in St. Thomas, including the Santa Clause Parade, Railway City Arts Crawl, and Culture Days. Maria is committed to building Welcoming, Caring, and Inclusive communities.

A big congratulations to all our winners!

Thank you for your efforts to make our community welcoming, caring, and inclusive!