-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — 11 May 2022

MEET CANOO 2.0 — FREE ACCESS TO OVER 1400 EXPERIENCES FOR MILLIONS OF NEWCOMERS

Institute for Canadian Citizenship Works With Canada’s Biggest Organizations and Brands to Relaunch VIP Access Program for Newcomers

TORONTO – The Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) — Canada’s leading citizenship-building organization and the world’s foremost voice on citizenship and inclusion — has relaunched its signature Canoo Access Pass, by making the app available to some two million permanent residents for the first time and adding hundreds of new free and discounted experiences and attractions for newcomers to enjoy in every province and territory.

Canoo is Canada’s only national welcome network for newcomers. The ICC created Canoo in 2010 to help new Canadian citizens celebrate their citizenship. Since then, Canoo has welcomed over 420,000 members and their families with free VIP access to more than 1,400 of Canada’s top destinations.

Canoo 2.0 massively expands the program’s reach to serve more than two million recently arrived permanent residents, and vastly extends the range of available benefits to include free and discounted access to live events, volunteer opportunities, travel, and exclusive deals with Canada’s leading brands.

Canoo 2.0 partners include:

These are just a few of the many organizations and brands across Canada offering deals on travel, experiences and more to newcomers through Canoo, and the ICC will continue to add new partners and experiences to the app, including those that connect newcomers with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, organizations and events.

“Newcomers to Canada are builders, dreamers, entrepreneurs, and job-creators. As a country, we are better, stronger and more competitive when newcomers don’t just to come to Canada, but love it here, become citizens, and make Canada their permanent family home. Yet recent surveys reveal that up to 30% of newcomers under 35 are likely to leave Canada within two years,” said ICC CEO Daniel Bernhard. “Canoo is a powerful way to invite newcomers to experience the very best of Canada. It provides tangible proof that Canada values them and believes in them, while also celebrating the people, places, and experiences that make Canada amazing.”

86% of Canoo members report feeling an enhanced sense of belonging to Canada after just one year of using Canoo. A further 92% of members will be continuing visiting Canoo partner attractions after their membership expires.

“In short,” said Bernhard, “We know that Canoo works as a tool to create a feeling of home at scale. As of today, it works even better, for many more people.”

To download Canoo 2.0 for iPhone or Android, visit canoo.ca or search for Canoo in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

From our partners

“VIA Rail has been a proud partner of Canoo for 10 years and we are excited to be expanding our 50 per cent discount offer on the best available fare to more than two million permanent residents for one trip to a destination of their choice during their Canoo membership. There is no better way to fall in love with this country, and truly make it your home, than to explore it by train. Encouraging newcomers to Canada to travel this country by rail is an enchanting way to welcome them, and support them, as they discover the beauty and splendor of their new home.”

Martin R. Landry, Chief Commercial Officer, VIA Rail

“Air Canada is very proud to partner with the ICC on this initiative as exploring the country to experience Canada’s diversity in-person the diversity of Canada is the best route to welcome newcomers and engage them in active citizenship”

David Rheault, Vice-President, Government and Community Relations, Air Canada

“TIFF is delighted to partner with the Institute of Canadian Citizenship and Canoo as part of our efforts to open our doors to all film lovers to participate in transformative film experiences at our home, TIFF Bell Lightbox,” stated Cameron Bailey, CEO, TIFF. “Those who take up our offer of a free Membership will have access to over 200 free screenings of new essentials, classics, rarities, and recent restorations in our TIFF Cinematheque programming this year, in addition to other exclusive benefits in the lead-up to the Festival. This is an exciting moment for TIFF to welcome these film lovers to Canada and bring them closer into our film community.”

Cameron Bailey, CEO, Toronto International Film Festival

Project benefactors

The ICC is grateful to our generous benefactors, whose vision, support, and financial backing underpin this ambitious expansion of Canoo, including:

Government of Canada
Canadian Western Bank
Irfhan Rawji
Sandra and Jim Pitblado
Power Corporation of Canada
Drs Munira and Kabir Jivraj
George and Martha Butterfield
The Kim Family Foundation
Catherine and William Graham
Naim Ali and Family
Peter Cheung

About the Institute for Canadian Citizenship

The Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) is a national non-profit organization co-founded by The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul. The ICC unlocks Canada for newcomers, facilitating and encouraging the journey toward full and active Canadian citizenship. Since 2005, the ICC has supported more than 450,000 newcomers with programming to encourage a sense of belonging and build a more inclusive Canada.

For comment and more information: media@inclusion.ca

Meet Canoo Member Sylvannia Soulet.

After moving to Canada over 20 years ago, Sylvannia officially joined the Canadian family in December 2019 and now lives in Toronto with her fiancé and stepdaughter. She loves Canada’s celebration of cultural diversity, and the way all voices are valued and included. The free health care doesn’t hurt, either! She values inclusion and the many freedoms of being Canadian which to her means that “Everyone gets a seat at the table, regardless of race or creed.

Sylvannia has fallen in love with her hometown of Toronto, and even with pandemic restrictions in place, has still managed to explore as many Canoo venues in the GTA as possible. The Royal Ontario Museum has become a particular favourite. In the fall of 2020, she was able to take her then 11-year-old stepdaughter to see the Winnie-the-Pooh exhibit, and had a great time discovering the story of the beloved bear of very little brain. “It was during the height of the COVID-19 restrictions, but it was still an enjoyable experience to the history of Winnie-the-Pooh and how he was brought into being.”

Sylvannia believes that arts and cultural places play a role in fostering inclusion and belonging, saying, “Visibility is important. Cultural places introduce groups to other experiences and backgrounds, and in turn instills a curiosity into learning about and experiencing said cultures. Why do you think “Taste of ___ festivals are so popular?” She also believes that active citizenship is important, and was very excited about being able to vote for the first time in the 2021 federal election.

As COVID-19 restrictions slowly start to lift, Sylvannia and her family are looking forward to planning more excursions and discovering all there is to know about Canada using the Canoo app. 

Would YOU like to be featured in our next newsletter? Fill out this questionnaire about your Canoo journey to be eligible to be featured in an upcoming Canoo Spotlight.

Canoo gives new Canadian citizens and their families access to more than 1400 arts and culture spaces and parks across Canada. While Canoo is free to use, it’s not free to operate. As a charity, we rely on donations to help keep Canoo available and free for new citizens. With your generous support, we can help thousands of new Canadians and their families feel like they belong. Give the gift of Canoo! Become a monthly donor today.

Meet Canoo member Prabuddh Dixit!

Originally from India, Prabuddh moved to Canada from India over 10 years ago. Prabuddh officially joined the Canadian family in November 2019, and now lives in Toronto with his wife and two children. He chose Canada because he always felt included and that he belonged here. He values inclusion and the many freedoms of being Canadian which to him are “the acceptance of one’s religious, political, sexual and personal beliefs.”

One of Prabuddh’s favourite things about Canada is the fresh air, which he and his family have made an effort to take in as much as possible all across the GTA. He has explored almost all of the Credit Valley Conservation Areas on the Canoo app, but there is only one that his family has visited time and time again and is their clear favourite – Island lake Conservation Area. “We’ve been to this conservation area three times. Once in summer, once in fall and once in Winter. The kids liked the 8km hike and many, many small bridges and the scenic trails in the fall. Walking on the frozen lake was the best part during our winter hike.” Over the past year, Prabuddh and his family were able to discover new activities and places that they wouldn’t have discovered without Canoo. In this time, their family bond was strengthened, the most important thing being “that we were able to build memories which our kids will hopefully remember for a lifetime.”

Prabuddh believes that arts and cultural places play a role in fostering inclusion and belonging, saying that “Cultural places give you a chance to belong and they build a feeling of community. It works as an extended family that stays with you during the good and the not so good times.” Prabuddh believed that active citizenship is important, and to him it means “giving back to the community which accepted us and made us feel like we are home.” Despite the challenges of the past year during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Dixit family used Canoo to help them safely explore their city and spend quality time together. “Canoo served as a saviour for our family’s mental health during COVID. It gave us a chance to explore those places where we’d not been to before. It helped us strengthen the family bond.”

Up next is a spring hike, since Canoo has helped the Dixit family discover their new favourite family activity – hiking! He and his family look forward to planning more excursions and discovering all there is to know about Canada using the Canoo app.

Would YOU like to be featured in our next newsletter? Fill out this questionnaire about your Canoo journey to be eligible to be featured in an upcoming Canoo Spotlight.

Canoo gives new Canadian citizens and their families access to more than 1400 arts and culture spaces and parks across Canada. While Canoo is free to use, it’s not free to operate. As a charity, we rely on donations to help keep Canoo available and free for new citizens. With your generous support, we can help thousands of new Canadians and their families feel like they belong. Give the gift of Canoo! Become a monthly donor today.

Meet Canoo member Olabode Samuel Adegbayike.

Originally from Nigeria, Olabode moved to Canada by himself to attend university. Olabode officially joined the Canadian family last summer, like so many others, in a virtual citizenship ceremony and now lives in Calgary with his wife and two children. Olabode decided to become a Canadian citizen after completing his studies, as he felt that Canada was home thanks to “the opportunities offered to me and the warm embrace of my community.” Olabode met his now wife, got married, and had two kids which motivated him to get his Canadian citizenship. He wanted his kids “to see how proud they could be of where they are from”. Olabode is most proud of his children and his degree, both of which he attributes to the help and support he received from his community.

Olabode has a deep respect for the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and is dedicated to continuing to learn about and understand their culture and history, stating that “The indigenous communities made me feel wanted and part of something larger.” Olabode says we all play a part in shaping the future of this country, and  active citizenship is essential to that. For him, active citizenship means “striving for the greater good of Indigenous people, and making sure everyone has equality.” 

Olabode said that he began to feel truly Canadian right after he got married: “My family always said I was more Canadian than Nigerian. It felt easy but with lots of responsibility and duty to keep you grounded.” Despite being a proud Canadian, Olabode is also proud of his Nigerian culture and understands the importance of sharing it with his family. Sharing his Nigerian culture with his children adds to the cultural mosaic that is Canada. In addition to wearing traditional clothing and preparing traditional food, Olabode also performed a traditional naming ceremony for each of his children 7 days after their birth, to welcome his children to the family the way his parents and ancestors did for him. 

As he continues to learn more about Canada, Olabode looks forward to visiting all the museums and art centres he can with Canoo! He believes that arts and cultural places play a role in fostering inclusion and belonging, affirming that “Art inspires ideas, critical thinking, information, growth and mostly a place to call home. It offers familiarity and new horizons. It brings you in and makes you take a step back.” Olabode heard about Canoo from a friend who used it with his family the year before, and has been excited about it ever since. He has already visited Canoo venues like the Ontario Science Centers in Toronto, and the Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg. Next up on his list is Studio Bell in Calgary, home of the National Music Centre: “I love music and what it can do to change the lives and moods of people. It is a great unifier.”

Despite getting his citizenship at the height of the pandemic, Olabode plans to make up for lost time! He and his family look forward to planning more excursions and discovering all there is to know about Canada and its Indigenous cultures using the Canoo app.

Would YOU like to be featured in our next newsletter? Fill out this questionnaire about your Canoo journey to be eligible to be featured in an upcoming Canoo Spotlight.

Canoo gives new Canadian citizens and their families access to more than 1400 arts and culture spaces and parks across Canada. While Canoo is free to use, it’s not free to operate. As a charity, we rely on donations to help keep Canoo available and free for new citizens. With your generous support, we can help thousands of new Canadians and their families feel like they belong. Give the gift of Canoo! Become a monthly donor today.

Meet Canoo member Lubna Hussain.

Originally from Pakistan, Lubna became a citizen in February 2020 and now lives in Edmonton with her family, including her four children. Lubna has been in Canada for over four years now, and until this past summer, had yet to experience a quintessential Canadian summer activity – camping – which quickly became a family favourite. Now she can proudly say, “Been there, done that!”

While Lubna’s favourite places in Canada are the Canadian Rockies, last summer, on a trip to British Columbia, Lubna and her family camped at Kicking Horse Campground in Yoho National Park. Her description of the park says it all – breathtaking and a piece of paradise. Lubna painted for us a stunning picture of her family’s first camping experience at the park: “Nestled at the foothills of the Rockies, with a dazzling waterfall in the background, and the Kicking Horse River flowing behind the campsite – this was probably the most serene place I have ever been to! Thank you Canoo for this opportunity.” Lubna adds that she will definitely be returning to this place as soon as she can!

Being a Canoo member has made Lubna feel more connected to Canada. She believes that cultural places play a role in building social inclusion by allowing us to learn about each other’s history which in turn makes us more empathetic.  As an active citizen herself, Lubna says that helping newcomers to Canada is part of this role, to help them make a better future for themselves. Lubna chose Canada because of better opportunities for her and her family, and she loves the non-discriminatory attitude of Canadians she has experienced during her time here. She affirms that the key to inclusion is that everyone is treated fairly, an outlook she strives to share with those around her every day.

As the long-awaited summer weather approaches, Lubna and her family look forward to planning more camping trips in Canada’s scenic National Parks and discovering new places in Edmonton using the Canoo app.

Would YOU like to be featured in our next newsletter? Fill out this questionnaire about your Canoo journey to be eligible to be featured in an upcoming Canoo Spotlight.

Canoo gives new Canadian citizens and their families access to more than 1400 arts and culture spaces and parks across Canada. While Canoo is free to use, it’s not free to operate. As a charity, we rely on donations to help keep Canoo available and free for new citizens. With your generous support, we can help thousands of new Canadians and their families feel like they belong. Give the gift of Canoo! Become a monthly donor today.

Originally from Pakistan, Sajeela became a citizen in December 2019 and now lives in Ontario’s capital city of Toronto. Sajeela has been in Canada for over 5 years now, making time to explore, admire nature and connect with Canada’s diverse people. Although she lives in a big city, after travelling around the province, Sajeela has decided that her favourite place so far is the town of Tobermory, a quiet harbour village on the Bruce Peninsula.

Sajeela is very fond of museums, a love that she shares with her sister. They often visit Canoo venues together, and enjoy being able to share these experiences with one another. One of their favourite outings was a trip to the Royal Ontario Museum in downtown Toronto. Sajeela believes that cultural places like museums play an essential role in building social inclusion, as they “propagate an understanding of different cultures and provide safe spaces to ask questions.” Sajeela says that in a multicultural country like Canada, this is especially important in building social inclusion because it helps make Canada’s population more tolerant and understanding of differences: “It reduces the fear of the unknown and builds common understanding among people from different cultural backgrounds.”  

Being a Canoo member has made Sajeela feel more connected to her surroundings. Knowing that she is part of a greater community has cultivated in her a strong feeling of inclusion where she feels encouraged to be herself and to let her distinct identity shine through. Apart from Sajeela’s attraction to Canada’s natural beauty and tolerant people, for her, immigrating was a decision motivated by her admiration for Canada’s multiculturalism as well as its inclusive society. She considers Canada to be a country that “appreciates talent and hard work” where, she says, she feels “part of a bigger whole”.

As the city of Toronto begins to open up in time for the long-awaited summer weather, Sajeela and her sister look forward to discovering new places using the Canoo app.

Would YOU like to be featured in our next newsletter? This month only, fill out this questionnaire about your Canoo journey to be eligible to be featured in our July Canoo Spotlight and to win a $20 gift card to Amazon. Deadline to enter is June 14th. Winners will be contacted by email.

Canoo gives new Canadian citizens and their families access to more than 1400 arts and culture spaces and parks across Canada. While Canoo is free to use, it’s not free to operate. As a charity, we rely on donations to help keep Canoo available and free for new citizens. With your generous support, we can help thousands of new Canadians and their families feel like they belong. Give the gift of Canoo! Become a monthly donor today.

Umut is a small business owner living in Vancouver, BC. Umut left his home in Istanbul, Turkey to come to Canada in 2009. He chose Canada because he felt that it was “a place I could be free to be myself, to feel safe, and to not be discriminated against.” Like many people, he was faced with challenges such as learning English and having to make new friendships and connections, yet he loved being surrounded by beautiful nature and friendly people. He admired the diversity in Canada, and enriched it by bringing his own cultural practices and traditions such as the gift of food. Umut says that “In my home, it’s common to give food, as a gift to others for all kinds of reasons. For example, if someone I know has lost a family member, or if they are celebrating opening a new business, I make sure to bring that person food (usually, I send them a pizza). Whether you are celebrating or giving support, food is a wonderful way to send a message.” 

Despite a busy schedule running Ignite Pizzerias in Vancouver, in his free time Umut enjoys connecting with nature at local parks and beaches, and visiting art venues and cultural spaces in BC. He says that “art is a universal language, and not only does it touch our emotions and connect us to others, it helps us to understand the world around us and where we fit into that.” When travelling outside of Vancouver, Umut loves going to The Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, a popular destination among Canoo members. He says that “it shares so much about the history in this area of Canada,” and highly recommends it to others when in Victoria. 

As an active citizen, Umut believes that active citizenship means caring about the country and the people around you, and it also means giving back, no matter how small those efforts might seem. Umut shares Canoo’s belief that art and culture bring people together, which is why, as a small business owner, he tries “to sponsor events and charities that resonate with [him], such as the Turkish Film Festival, and the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. It’s a way to say thanks.” 

Deciding to become a Canadian citizen is a big decision, but Umut felt that becoming a Canadian citizen would allow him “to truly experience the feeling of freedom, and as an aspiring entrepreneur I saw Canada as an opportunity to grow a business.” Umut followed his dream, and these days he is his own boss working with a very supportive team. He has not looked back since, saying with pride that “It’s a huge accomplishment when I look back at where I was when I started, and something I enjoy waking up to everyday.” 

After 12 years in Canada, Umut still remembers the first time he truly felt Canadian, arriving back to Canada after visiting his family in Turkey. He says, “I lined up with the other Canadians, and the border services agent said “welcome home.”  Perhaps it was a small experience, but it was a meaningful acknowledgement for me.” Umut truly values being able to travel with a Canadian passport, but he also says that to him the passport is mostly symbolic. It means not only a commitment to making Canada his home, but also that Canada has accepted him as part of the country, which means a lot.

To anyone who is still on the path of pursuing their dreams in Canada, Umut says to keep at it! You’ve chosen Canada where “there is a wonderful opportunity to become part of the diversity that is here. Don’t forget that nowhere is perfect, everywhere will have its challenges, but Canada is one of the best places in the world to live. Become part of that diversity, and you will find that by giving and contributing, you will also receive.”

Use the Canoo app to check out more places in your area, like the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, recommended by Umut. And next time you’re in Vancouver, don’t forget to head over to Ignite Pizzeria to enjoy a slice of pizza in Gastown or Mount Pleasant, and to meet Umut, his wife Jennifer, and his friend and business partner Cihan Yanar (pictured with Umut above).

Canoo gives new Canadian citizens and their families access to more than 1400 arts and culture spaces and parks across Canada. While Canoo is free to use, it’s not free to operate. As a charity, we rely on donations to help keep Canoo available and free for new citizens. With your generous support, we can help thousands of new Canadians and their families feel like they belong. Give the gift of Canoo! Become a monthly donor today.

Meet Canoo member Fazela Yasin.

Fazela chose to move to Canada because for her, it meant living in a country where, as a woman, she was valued, given equal opportunities, and  able to give back to her community in a meaningful way. Inclusion to Fazela is to be, as she puts it, “sewn into the cloth,” which is having the opportunity to experience a variety of cultures while being accepted for hers. Fazela is very inspired by the active and continued efforts of Canadians to make each other feel welcome and reassured, and she wants to give back as an active citizen by “fulfilling all the duties sworn to and checking in with herself constantly to make sure she is living up to the qualities of being a Canadian.”

Fazela shares that cultural places like the ones she visited in Vancouver play an important role in building social inclusion by giving everyone the opportunity to grasp different cultures, customs, and backgrounds: “This builds our appreciation and relationships for and with fellow Canadians, despite our differences, and helps to establish trust, be insightful, and also respectful of each other.” Fazela’s closest friends, Nathalie and Stacy, both live outside of Canada, but going to Canoo venues with them when they visit gives Fazela the opportunity to show them what makes Canada so special to her.

Fazela says Canoo has motivated her to discover so many interesting places. She loves how she can pick almost any city in Canada and there are always Canoo venues available to explore. On a trip to Vancouver in April 2019 with her best friend, Nathalie, Fazela visited Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. From the moment the pair stepped in from the bustling streets, they transitioned into “the most peaceful and serene setting. It is difficult to believe you’re still in the city!” Fazela says that Canoo has given her countless invaluable experiences and has left an “unforgettable impression” on her. 

 

Canoo gives new Canadian citizens and their families access to more than 1400 arts and culture spaces and parks across Canada. While Canoo is free to use, it’s not free to operate. As a charity, we rely on donations to help keep Canoo available and free for new citizens. With your generous support, we can help thousands of new Canadians and their families feel like they belong. Give the gift of Canoo! Become a monthly donor today.

Meet Canoo member Ife Thomas! 

Ife and her husband chose to move to Canada because for them, it meant a chance for more opportunities. What she loves most about Canada is the freedom and the diversity, which she specifies includes not only the people and cultures but also the geography of the country.

Since Ife and her family received their citizenship, they have used Canoo as a tool to help them discover what’s around them, and even have a new favourite place – Banff! After exploring the town, enjoying a picnic at Lake Minnewanka, and cooling down by the lake while taking in the beauty of the mountains, Ife was pleased to see how much her sons enjoyed their time together. Her eldest son especially, who declares that Banff is his favorite place to go and asks everyday, “Are we going to Banff today?”

Ife says that Canoo has helped her and her family explore all things Canadian, and she really appreciates the suggestions about the places close by and far to visit, especially for parks for the kids. “Canoo has been like a map to tell me all the places that I need to visit without a whole lot of research.” 

For Ife, raising her family in Canada, inclusion is very important. It means “feeling accepted, and accepting everyone no matter their race, religion, gender, or background.” Ife explains that “you feel a sense of pride about how so many different people live here and belong here and those differences unify the country and make Canada such a great place to live.”

Ife strives to be an active citizen, by not only voting in local and national elections, but also by “learning and experiencing as much Canadian culture as possible whether by travelling around the country or visiting all the local parks, museums and historical sites.” Ife hopes to continue using Canoo to explore and find more places that her and her family can enjoy together.

Canoo gives new Canadian citizens and their families access to more than 1400 arts and culture spaces and parks across Canada. While Canoo is free to use, it’s not free to operate. As a charity, we rely on donations to help keep Canoo available and free for new citizens. With your generous support, we can help thousands of new Canadians and their families feel like they belong. Give the gift of Canoo! Become a monthly donor today.

Meet Canoo member Harish Kashyap!

Harish chose to come to Canada because “Canada is one of the most outstanding countries in the world where dreams come true.” He says that he could see himself and his family growing together, and living and sharing happy moments for the rest of their lives here in Canada.

“The most important thing I love about Canada is the diversity of people, where I can exchange cultural interests, grow in my career, and also provide a healthy and safe life to my family.”

Harish typically visits venues with his family; he says that sharing these trips means sharing happiness and making their family bond stronger. His favourite places that he has visited with Canoo are Banff National Park and Jasper National Park over the summer. “I went with my family and friends and their family,” Harish says, “ We experienced the breathtaking moments of Banff National Park, and we were so close to the wildlife. Being so close to the wildlife and sharing the same road while driving was the best part. It’s great to see wildlife in their real habitat! Canoo is a great app which provides hands-on information to visit the places no matter whichever part of Canada you are in. ”

Harish believes that cultural venues, including natural spaces like national parks, are important parts of building inclusion and belonging in Canada. “These are places where we learn about other people and culture closely,” he says. “Making cultural places available to everyone brings respect to other cultures while learning something new everyday.

“I can feel proud that I am representing one of the most respectful countries in the world. Inclusion to me means the feeling of being an important part of cultural diversity.”

*Some quotes have been edited for length and clarity.

Canoo gives new Canadian families access to 1400+ arts, culture spaces and parks across Canada. While Canoo is free to use, it’s not free to operate. As a charity, we rely on donations to help keep Canoo available and free for new Canadian citizens. With your generous support, we can help thousands of new Canadians and their family belong. Give the gift of Canoo! Become a monthly donor today.