As the men filed in, there was music from Lebanon.
When they settled in, Tito Ochoa grabbed his guitar and regaled the men with some Salvadoran music, starting with a tune befitting the occasion — Viejito, which means ‘old man.’
The musical diversity in effect represents the goal of the immigrant men’s group undergoing a “re-energizing” by the Central Alberta Refugee Effort (CARE) — to get immigrant men over the age of 50 who may share little in common besides their newness to Canada to socialize and learn while doing so.
The group, which drew six men at its opening night, got started last year.
Its formation was modelled after the long-standing immigrant women’s group, which has run weekly for years in Red Deer.
Group co-ordinator Ruby Adams said newcomers to Canada can quickly feel isolated, and the goal is to make them feel welcome and integrated into the community.
“Some of them might be here isolated without their children, or don’t get the opportunity to meet other men outside of their culture … Language itself creates a bit of isolation,” she said.
Adams said it can be more difficult to get men out for socializing, and thus the men’s group is only scheduled to meet once a month. In its first year in 2012, the group would draw an average of only nine men for each event. Adams is hoping by getting the men more involved, the group will flourish.
“Each month there’s going to be a different group leader volunteer from the immigrant community. I’m the co-ordinator, but I want them to really facilitate the activities,” she said.
The group’s next get-together will be a Father’s Day country fair at Sunnybrook Farm on June 16. Future events will feature disc golf, an outing to the Innisfail RCMP dog show, and a discussion on immigration laws.
To get involved with the group, or for more information, contact Adams at C.A.R.E. at 403-346-8818.