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New Roots wants to help newcomers build connections in New West

“My dream is to have people moving to New Westminster really feel like they are home.”

Jeremy Perry wants to help newcomers to New West put down roots and break through feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Perry is the founder of a newly launched business, New Roots, which will be hosting events and providing welcome gifts that aim to help people integrate into the community. He believes it’s crucial for newcomers to make connections with other community members.

“I think it’s the difference between feeling like you are sleeping somewhere and feeling like you are living somewhere,” he says. “When you are connected to the community, whether that is having some businesses that you like to frequent who recognize you as a regular customer to people who you see on the street who smile, and you can stop and chat with, to friends you can call up and do something with, that’s what really makes it feel like your home. And my dream is to have people moving to New Westminster really feel like they are home.”

Perry, who moved to New West a decade ago, had a really positive experience when he arrived in the city, but he says that’s not an experience shared by all newcomers.

“I am quite a social extrovert so I actively sought out ways to meet people. The community is quite welcoming when you show up and want to be involved,” he says. “However, other people in my life, when they moved to town, if they are not driven to actively really seek out everything, I have seen them take a lot longer to start to build those local connections. But when they do, the people in New West are great. It’s just trying to encourage those initial connections to occur sooner rather than later.”

New Roots is hosting its first three events in June – a pub social at Union Jack Public House on June 1, a walk through Queen’s Park on June 11 and a Meet People Over Pizza at Boston Pizza on June 20.

“I am hoping to have a variety of different sorts of events so people really find something that will meet what they are looking for,” he says. “As these are our first three events I plan to solicit feedback from all of the attendees and make changes and come up with new opportunities, really based on what the people coming to the events are telling me what they want to see.”

The initial events are open to all newcomers, but Perry anticipates he’ll be hosting some demographically focused events in the months ahead.

“In the fall I will likely have something that is geared toward university students that have recently moved to town. I also hope to periodically have some events that might be geared towards seniors. I am considering some events that might be geared toward young families,” he says. “I am really open to feedback from the community about what they’d want to see. Some are going to be very broad, but the hope is that some in the future will be targeted so that it’s a better chance that people will really meet some people that they want to form some friendships with.”

Perry says the focus is to create connections for folks who have moved to New West since 2020, as there’s been “a vacuum of opportunities to meet people and build connections” because of the pandemic. But New Roots won’t turn away longer term residents who are search of new connections.

“The events are geared toward people who are new to the community but if there are others who are looking to expand their social circle or make some new connections, we are not against them coming as well,” he says.

New Roots finds its roots

Prior to the pandemic, Perry participated in a social impact business incubator course, with the aim of creating a business that’s wanted and needed by local residents. New Roots blends combines his love of community building and giving back with a need to address the challenge some newcomers have in building connections and meeting new people in the community.

“People spoke about how welcoming New West was once they had broken into some connections, but actually building those initial connections was a real struggle,” he says of his research.

It was also through that social incubator program that the business’s name, New Roots, took shape.

“We are helping people dig new roots in the community,” Perry says. “It has the word ‘new’ in it which feels like it’s a part of New West, and it just really embodied the nature about what we are trying to do. It also, we are trying not only to support new people coming to town but also new businesses that are in town. So any new business that opens can participate in the welcome gifts at whatever price point will work for their budget because we are really committed to help them dig new roots into the community as well.”

Perry hopes New Roots can help newcomers make connections with other residents and to local businesses.

“The plan is to have multiple events each month where people who are new to town, whether they are coming from another city, another province, another country can get together, meet each other, have some conversation prompts and try to find some common connections, get their questions answered about what’s available in town,” he says. “They’ll and then also get sent home with a welcome package that will have information about the community, as well as some free samples or introductory offers that the different businesses and organizations around town can provide to really introduce them to what New West is offering.”

Through the welcome packages, New Roots will distribute schwag and coupons that have been contributed from local businesses.

Perry said the welcome packages are a great way for businesses to reach people who haven’t yet become attached to particular services and products around town – and a way of New West to be a warm and welcoming place for newcomers.

Perry chose a “fascinating” business format with which to launch New Roots.

“New Roots is a community contribution company, which is exciting incorporation style that ensures that the needs of the community are put ahead of profit. This corporate structure is only available in B.C., Nova Scotia and the U.K.,” he says. “We chose this structure because I feel strongly that being a good corporate citizen should be more than just a promise. Having it embedded into the legal structure of a company is a future that I want to see more of. I want businesses to be built who are legally mandated to put the needs of the community first. So I am happy and excited to be part of that revolution.”

More details about getting involved in New Roots events or supporting the welcome packages can be found at

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus