Having grown up in this area, workers from other lands have been a part of the agricultural scene forever. They were just part of the landscape, strangers from afar, who worked the fields and rode their bikes to the village to use the phone .
One day I read an article in the paper about the tragic death of four men who were killed while riding their bikes on the side of the road. This, of course, was very sad but the upsetting part for me was that more than 40 deaths had occurred over the past five years in Norfolk county!
Nobody seemed to care about these men who were now called “migrant workers”! As a member of the Kilbride United Church, I started watching these men as I traveled our concession roads. Who were they? Where did they come from? What family did they leave behind? How long do they stay in our country? We had so many questions and very few answers.
One night as I traveled home from the village, I could barely see the three bikes ahead. I could have hit them and made this just another accident statistic involving these strangers in our country. It was time to do something about this!
“LET’S INVITE THEM TO A BARBECUE” !!!
A small group in our congregation got together and arranged a Saturday evening on the Father’s Day weekend in June. Visits were made to the area farms that we thought had “migrant workers” living there. Posters were made and with big smiles, four area farms were visited and the “boss” was asked if his “guys” could be invited to our Kilbride Church for a barbecue?
I think they all thought I was this “crazy church lady”!
The evening came. The poster said…Please come at 5:00 pm. NOBODY SHOWED UP! By 6:30 we were getting ready to eat the food ourselves, when all of a sudden someone yelled, “Here come five guys on bikes!
A little green school bus has just turned into the parking lot!” Our first guests were arriving! Why so late? They don’t get off the fields until after 6:00 pm and they needed to shower before “coming to dinner”!
Our first event was so very awkward! Language was an issue for some of us and for some of our guests, who knew no English. We all wore name tags and smiled a lot and shook hands a lot!
As became our custom for every barbecue, we end each evening in the Church sanctuary with a prayer of Thanksgiving for our new friends and a safe stay in Canada.
From this humble beginning, has come events involving more that 100 people both friends a.k.a. migrant workers and members and friends of our “small but mighty” congregation.
There are hundreds of clothing items given to the workers’ as well as several, much needed, bicycles that allow them to travel around the village as well as to the Town of Waterdown. The men participate in an annual ball hockey game and enjoy other various table and board games.
Why don’t you join us and see what all the fun is about? There’s always room at our table for more!”
A slide show of the Migrant Barbecues over the years