by Lola Pak
How participating in Welcoming Week advances welcome for migrants
Each September, Welcoming Week is an opportunity for communities to come together and celebrate the values that make places more welcoming and inclusive for all who live there.
In the months leading up to Welcoming Week, it’s time to start brainstorming ways to get involved. Whether you plan a local event or share your thoughts on social media, anyone who engages with Welcoming Week is taking a bold step in fostering belonging for all, including migrants and refugees.
Want to participate in Welcoming Week, but not sure where to start? Read on for ideas and resources so you can be prepared this September.
What is Welcoming Week?
For the past decade, Welcoming Week has served as an annual campaign and global celebration to showcase the growing movement of communities striving to be more welcoming places. By fostering mutual respect and cooperation between residents of all backgrounds, Welcoming Week events bring people together to build greater prosperity for all.
Anyone can participate in Welcoming Week, whether you’re a partner, Welcoming Network member, organization, or individual! All you need is the spirit of welcoming — the idea that each and every one of us has the power to help others be seen, embraced, welcomed, and included in our communities, regardless of their background.
In 2023, Welcoming Week is September 8-17. Across 10 days, communities can celebrate themes connected to the Welcoming Standard, community sponsorship of refugees, and citizenship.
How do Welcoming Week events advance migrant participation, especially in mid-size and small cities?
Welcoming Week is a time for people of all different backgrounds to gather in their communities, connect, and build new relationships, which makes it ideal for newcomers like migrants. Mid-sized and small cities are particularly ideal for Welcoming Week events, as they are more likely to have stronger connections between government, community-based organizations, and individuals.
With any Welcoming Week event, we strongly encourage hosts to include newcomers as part of the planning process and co-create the event. Additionally, events do not need to be large or take up a lot of space or energy — many hosts roll out a series of smaller events throughout the week that are tailored to specific groups and issues.
For example, several mid-sized and smaller cities in Canada hosted webinars and library exhibits during Welcoming Week in 2022. Because these do not require large amounts of space to host, they are especially feasible for smaller communities and help foster connections between newcomers and long-time residents.
How can Welcoming Week messages promote a whole-of-community approach to inclusion?
Welcoming Week’s core messages and activities aim to showcase what a successful multiracial democracy can look like. To that end, a whole-of-community approach to inclusion is required because it means you must involve people of all ethnicities and backgrounds.
Additionally, this approach roots your activities in democratic principles, like openness, fairness, and equal opportunity. This should influence how organizations approach their events or campaigns, who they engage, what their messages are, and how to measure impact.
Case study: How a Welcoming Week event helped a local government get more involved with including migrants
Celebrating Welcoming Week is often a first step or catalyst for local governments to advance existing welcoming work. In Gainesville, Florida, many community organizations have been working for years to improve programs and policies for migrants. This eventually culminated in a Welcoming Week event in 2022 that sparked the city’s motivation to pursue a Certified Welcoming designation.
In other places, local governments that already support Welcoming Week have found it to be a useful tool to engage with migrant and Indigenous communities. Our partners at the Hamilton City Council in New Zealand share more in this blog about how Welcoming Week activities connect to other aspects of the council’s year-round work.
This post is adapted from a blog originally published on welcomingamerica.org.