Community picnic seeks to increase sense of belonging

Memorial Park picnic in Keremeos provided an opportunity for new community members from various ethnic backgrounds, to meet

  • Aug. 23, 2014 5:00 p.m.

On Thursday August 21, a community picnic was held in Memorial Park, hosted by members of South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services.

Participants braved a sudden change in the weather as the heavens opened up and thunder rumbled overhead. Fortunately, Memorial Park’s picnic gazebo provided enough cover for the event to continue.

The picnic provided an opportunity for community members from various ethnic backgrounds, especially newcomers to the area,  to meet and find out where they could access immigration and community  services.

The picnic also provided the opportunity for researchers Susana Caxaj, Navjot Gill and Luis Diaz to describe a research project they have just begun in the South Similkameen.

“Belonging in the South Similkameen” is a research study being conducted by the trio to understand and promote well-being and a sense of belonging in various communitiesof the South Similkameen.

“We’ve been out in the community, having conversation, but haven’t begun formal research yet, “ explained research coordinator Navjot Gill. She said she had heard of some issues regarding treatment of temporary farmworkers in the area, but so far,  the stories were anecdotal.  As research continues, Gill said she expected there would be an opportunity to speak formally to those experiencing difficulties, hopefully shedding some light on the issues.

The research project is expected to get input from the various communities in the Similkameen as to their idea of how it feels to live in the area.

“We want to find out how we can promote community belonging,” Gill said.


A lower sense of belonging has been linked to feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety, research has shown. It is felt that having a strong sense of belonging can contribute to positive mental health and wellbeing.