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Woolwich Community Health Centre

10 Parkside Drive
St. Jacobs, Ontario
N0B 2N0
St. Jacobs
(519) 664-3794

Program Description

Woolwich Community Health Centre (WCHC) has had a long standing relationship with the Low German Mennonite community. Low German families are, for the most part, newcomers to Canada and the vast large majority are Canadian citizens. They are at risk due to literacy challenges in both their language and in English. Low German Mennonite adults have limited access to literacy classes due to their citizenship and are not able to attend programs such as the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program at Conestoga College. Some Low German Mennonite adults do attend literacy classes and especially those which are separate classes for their cultural group. Staff at WCHC has identified that poverty; literacy and employment are three inter-related factors or determinants of health that greatly affect this population. Most recently, there has been more openness among the Low German Mennonite men and their families to share their experiences and some have expressed an interest in further developing their literacy and skilled trades.

A group of stakeholders came together in December 2007 to discuss the issue and potentially work in collaboration. The included: Low German clergy, Woolwich Community Health Centre staff, Wellesley Township CAPC Outreach Worker, Woolwich Community Services, Mennonite Central Committee staff and Low German Mennonite men. The group developed a partnership with Conestoga College and met with three representatives from Conestoga College to learn about their ESL programs, Job Connect and skilled trades programs. The cultural sensitivity of implementing such an initiative was felt to be of high priority.

  • To improve employment opportunities for Low German speaking families through literacy and skills development.
  • To develop linkages between the Low German community and educational institutions, programs and supports.


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