Originally published at carletonjhr.com.
The reception room is filled with overflowing shelves of brochures about employment and social services. One poster shouts bolded greetings in multiple languages. A few women in colourful headscarves are waiting in line and a man wearing a winter coat despite the warm fall-like temperature passes by. In the hallways, you can hear the hard R’s of Arabic, lyrical words of a romantic language and others I don’t recognize.
In one classroom, teacher Sharon Benson is giving an animated explanation of ridings and candidates in the federal election. None of the students are citizens so they can’t vote, but they’re still eager to learn. Benson asks the group what election issues they care about.
“To pay my rent!” says a man named Emmanuel.
“Being a citizen,” shouts someone else.
“To bring my family here!” yells another, greeted by enthusiastic head nods.