Circle of Friends for Newcomers (Hamilton)

Our Values

  • Treat all clients with dignity and respect
  • Demonstrate sensitivity
  • Address with flexibility ongoing changes and needs
  • Embrace diversity

Our Objectives

  • Provide English, orientation and citizenship classes for refugees and immigrants in the Queen and York area of Hamilton
  • Ensure that the classes are accessible in terms of location, times and approach to women with small children, seniors and other refugees and immigrants with specific needs
  • Provide quality childcare responsive to specific needs for the children of adults attending the English classes
  • Identify the needs of new immigrants and refugees and seek to address them on an individual or project basis
  • Promote and support the development of self-help groups for refugees and immigrants 

The Circle of Friends for Newcomers (Hamilton) was founded in 1980 by a group of individuals representing various agencies in the City of Hamilton who came together as a coordinating committee to respond to the settlement needs of government-sponsored refugees.

At that time the number of South-East Asian refugees arriving in Hamilton was at its height. To assist in the settlement of government-sponsored refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, the Coordinating Committee put in place a “Circle of Friends” host programme with a coordinator and trained volunteers to provide friendship and practical support to government-sponsored refugee families and single individuals. Other early initiatives included a clothing “store” and drop-in centre in the apartment building at 151 Queen St. North. In 1981 English classes for women, with a nursery for babies and toddlers, were started in the basement of the building.  A few months later Circle of Friends job-search classes for men began at a downtown Salvation Army centre.

English classes in the Victoria Park Community Centre at 155 Queen St. North supported by child care have continued to be a priority up to the present time.

In 1990 the Circle of Friends became a registered charity with Revenue Canada (now CRA) and was incorporated under the name Circle of Friends for Newcomers (Canada).  Supported by grants from a number of agencies, the organization worked to help new communities establish self-help groups; notably, the Hamilton Seniors Association for Chinese-Vietnamese seniors and the Khmer Youth Association of Hamilton for Cambodian youth.

The Circle of Friends for Newcomers (Hamilton) is a not-for-profit registered charity governed by a volunteer board of directors.  The Board of Directors consists of a Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary and up to 12 other members. New board members are asked to make a commitment of a minimum of one-year.

Responsibilities of Board Members

Attend board meetings (approximately ten per year) and the annual general meeting

Serve on a sub-committee as needed

Act as a representative of the board and the organization at community events, as required

Criteria for selection as a Board Member

Commitment to the values and objectives of the Circle of Friends

Resident of Canada

Becoming a Board Member

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Board of Directors with the Circle of Friends for Newcomers (Hamilton), send an E-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.