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Diversity in Peterborough

diversity parade, including people carrying a banner that says Canadians Centre Peterborough, Celebrate Diversity

"As the City of Peterborough Portfolio Chair for Diversity, I am delighted to welcome you to our City and Region. Like many other Canadian cities, Peterborough is a city of immigrants. We proudly see diversity as one of our greatest strengths, providing us not only with a wealth of cultural and social experience but a decided economic advantage in a global marketplace. In Peterborough, we take a measure of pride in both the welcoming of new Canadians, as well as the ongoing work necessary to bring about their sustained integration. My own family experience is one good measure of the willingness of the City to accept and reward newcomers who make a concerted effort to contribute to community life. As a second-generation Greek Canadian, I am indebted to the pioneering work of my parents and to the City that allowed them to thrive and prosper. They are, like so many others, community builders who come to this country and this city to build a better life for themselves and a better community for the rest of us. As we embrace our diversity, it enriches us all."
~ Dean Pappas, Peterborough City Councillor, City of Peterborough Portfolio Chair for Diversity.

The City of Peterborough has a long history of diverse people gathering together to build a community. This tradition began with the many different Indigenous nations that would assemble in Nogojiwanong - the place at the end of the rapids - to share knowledge and information.

By the 1800s, Irish and other European immigrants began building the prosperous settler community of Peterborough. Today, by welcoming people from all over the world we continue the legacy of building community through the strength of our differences. Peterborough is a vibrant and diverse community with people from over 50% of the world's countries calling Peterborough their home.  As a result of this diversity, Peterborough is home to numerous multicultural organizations and associations.

Peterborough is further strengthened by having a large population of international students who bring their knowledge, skills and talents to our local schools. This includes Fleming College and Trent University, where international students are successful in bringing their backgrounds forward to share and learn with domestic students.

multicultural youth waving Canada flags on a parade float

Cultural diversity enriches us by bringing together individuals from different backgrounds and origins. Through diversity, we can compare and contrast different values, beliefs and lifestyles. We can create a framework of common values and beliefs and ultimately celebrate the differences that make us unique as individuals. Cultural diversity is essential for our community to grow and prosper.  Diversity has also been recognized as a strong contributor to our economic prosperity.

Within Peterborough, many organizations exist to promote cultural diversity. More specifically, the Peterborough Immigration Partnership (PIP) formerly Peterborough Partnership Council on Immigrant Integration (PPCII) was established in 2008 to promote, advance and support coordinated immigrant integration in the Peterborough community.  Immigrant integration is essential for long-term social, cultural, economic and environmental prosperity in the Peterborough region.

With so many people from different backgrounds living in the City, the Community and Race Relations Committee serves as an important meeting ground where people work together to promote awareness and positive race relations in the broader community.

To learn more about diversity in Peterborough, please refer to this comprehensive Quality of Life Report compiled by the Peterborough Social Planning Council.

3 members of race relations committee holding committee banner at a parade

Diversity in its fullest sense includes more than cultural diversity. It recognizes all the ways in which we differ from one another including: age, sexual orientation, gender, ability, race, ethnocultural background, religion, income, parental status, and more. Peterborough values a strong sense of community and actively works to promote the integration and inclusion of the entire population. Many organizations exist within the city to promote diversity. They exist to promote accessibility, gender variances, sexual orientation, environmental awareness and activism, fair trade, clean water, energy security, public health care, and so much more.

All of these elements come together to create a unique environment in Peterborough, where diversity of backgrounds and perspectives are celebrated. Everyone who lives in Peterborough brings different skill sets, knowledge, and experiences. As such, Peterborough is strengthened as a community through our rich diversity. Whether old or young, single or a family, Peterborough is a wonderful place to find opportunities for personal and collective growth!

History of Immigration in Peterborough

Peterborough has a rich history of immigration. However, before the first immigrants arrived, the region was already settled by indigenous people to the area.

Nogojiwanong - the place at the end of the rapids

Peterborough sits on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe (Ojibway) and was originally named and known as Nogojiwanong (“place at the end of rapids”). For thousands of years, this region was known as a gathering spot where different first nations, families and leaders would come together to exchange ideas and knowledge. Sites such as the Petroglyphs and Serpent Mounds Park and Indigenous oral traditions confirm this regional history. The First Nations who originally lived in this region include the Haudenosaunee (Mohawk) and the Anishinaabe.

First Nations artisan making a traditional feather headdress

The Peterborough area is still home to several First Nations communities including Hiawatha First NationCurve Lake First NationAlderville First Nation., and the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. Peterborough also neighbours Burleigh Falls where Anishinaabe, Métis and non-Indigenous people who live and work together helping to make a multicultural community.

Within the city of Peterborough, many Indigenous people continue to live, work, learn and celebrate their traditional cultural practices every day. There are a number of local Indigenous landmarks and places of honour within the City, including the traditional burial grounds located at Brock St. between Aylmer St. and George St. Look out for local First Nations cultural events and initiatives held throughout the year such as the two-day traditional gathering/Pow Wow and Community Procession, the Trent University Native Association’s Pow Wow and annual conferences including the Elders' and Traditional Peoples' Gathering and the Indigenous Studies at Trent University.

Early Immigration to Peterborough

By choosing to move to Peterborough, you will be following a long tradition. Immigrants had an important role in creating the city over 200 years ago.

In 1818, Adam Scott settled by the Otonabee River and built a sawmill and gristmill. In 1825, Irish immigrants arrived from the city of Cork, led by Peter Robinson. These first immigrants cleared the swampy land to build their houses. Thousands of their descendants remain in the Peterborough area today.

Hutchison House Museum

Dr. John Hutchison, the City's first doctor, came to Peterborough in the 1830's.  His cousin, Sandford Fleming, the inventor of Standard Time, came to the area in 1845. Hutchison House has been turned into a museum.

In 1850, Peterborough was incorporated as a town with a population of 2,191.

One of the most famous families to come to Peterborough came from England. Susanna Moodie, her sister Catherine Parr Trail, and her brother Samuel Strickland all wrote books about their experiences. The most well-known are Roughing it in the Bush, Twenty-Seven Years in Canada West, and Backwoods in Canada.

Although life was difficult, those first immigrants helped to build a prosperous community. New Canadians from around the world continue this tradition today. You can learn more about the importance of immigration to Peterborough’s history at the Peterborough Museum & Archives.

Immigration Today

more than 2 dozen immigrants to Peterborough from a broad range of countries standing around a New Canadians Centre banner holding Canada flags

While early immigrants to Peterborough were mostly of Irish and British descent, people from all over the world now call Peterborough home. In 2021/22, the New Canadians Centre served clients from 103 different countries. Following in the footsteps of early settlers, immigrants to Peterborough continue to contribute to our consistent prosperity as a community.  We invite you to join us and make Peterborough your home too!

New Canadians Centre

sign and entrance to the New Canadians Centre on Romaine Street

The New Canadians Centre Peterborough was established in 1979 as the Peterborough Newcomer Language Orientation Committee (PNLOC). Out of concern for the South East Asian refugee movement in the late 1970s, a group of community members came together to sponsor refugees fleeing the communist regime in Vietnam. In addition to helping the refugee families get settled in Peterborough, PNLOC members also worked on forming a community organization that could access funding and provide programs and services to any immigrant and refugee families who arrive in the community. In 1987, PNLOC became the New Canadians Centre Peterborough, a fully incorporated entity with registered charity status.

Today, the NCC remains the main provider of settlement and integration support for newcomers with services including but not limited to language training and assessment, information and referral, interpretation and translation, employment assistance, counselling, community bridging and education. The NCC serves the Peterborough and Northumberland counties with a satellite office in Cobourg. The NCC strives to empower immigrants and refugees to become full and equal members of Canadian society and to provide community leadership to ensure cultural integration in a welcoming community.

Peterborough Immigration Partnership (PIP)

22 members of the Peterborough Immigration Partnership (PIP) holding a Peterborough Partnership Council on Immigrant Integration banner

The Peterborough Immigration Partnership (PIP) formerly Peterborough Partnership Council on Immigrant Integration (PPCII) promotes, advances and supports coordinated immigrant integration in the Peterborough community. PIP believes immigrant integration is essential for long-term social, cultural, economic and environmental prosperity in the Peterborough region.

In February 2008, the New Canadians Centre Peterborough (NCC), the Community and Race Relations Committee of Peterborough (CCRC), the Trent Centre for Community-Based Education (TCCBE), and the Workforce Development Board (WDB) initiated an information session for the community in response to the call for proposals from the joint federal Citizenship and Immigration Canada and provincial Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration – Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) projects. Over 25 organizations responded to the invitation and attended the information session, representing cross sectors in education, employment, health, business, social services, and municipal and regional governments. With the strong support from the community and especially with the full endorsement from the Peterborough City Council to apply for the LIP funding, an application for start-up funding to create and establish the PIP was submitted. The New Canadians Centre Peterborough – as the lead agency, submitted the application on behalf of the partnership council founding members.

PIP has over 100 members including both organizational and individual members. In 2010 it launched its first Immigrant Integration Strategy for Peterborough 2010-2015. Since 2010 PIP staff and member agencies have collaboratively implemented over 90 projects and activities that support immigrant integration in four sectors - housing and transportation, education, health and social services and economic development. The education sector has led with 45 education-related projects implemented in support of immigrant integration in our area.

Most recently PIP has embarked on the process of developing a new plan for immigrant integration in Peterborough for the 2016-2021 period. For this purpose, a number of planning activities took place throughout 2014-2015, including an overall review of the progress of the 2010-2015 strategy document, new research conducted on local demographic trends, surveying of PIP members and community members at large, three focus groups (one with employers, one with international students and one with local decision makers) and numerous discussions with PIP members and volunteers during the regular PIP Council and committee meetings. A public consultation session was held on August 27, 2015, to review and receive community’s feedback on the new strategy document.

The 2016-2021 Community Immigrant Integration Plan was launched in December 2015.

Peterborough Immigration Portal

poster used to promote this website as a resource for newcomers to Peterborough

The Peterborough Immigration Portal is an all-inclusive web resource designed to showcase why Peterborough is a good place to live, study, work or invest in the business. The resource information is designed to attract and retain immigrants and newcomers to the Peterborough area. The Peterborough Immigration Portal is a gateway to information a family may need to get settled in the community. In addition to basic information, the Portal also provides real stories from persons who have gone through the process of finding their way through Peterborough’s employment, education, and daily life living. It provides important dates of key community events celebrated throughout the year and connects people to resources they may need.

There are over 35 Community Immigration Portals across the province of Ontario. With funding from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, the Peterborough Immigration Portal was developed by the City of Peterborough in collaboration with the Peterborough Immigration Partnership (PIP) as well as numerous other local organizations, making this project a truly collaborative and community-based initiative.

Provide your feedback on the portal here!