From the Journal Pioneer:
If you’re an Islander, you’re probably familiar with the term CFA, or “come from away” to describe someone who wasn’t born in this province.
But there’s a new term that may soon replace it: IBC, or “Islander by choice.”
Carol O’Hanley, co-chair of the Islanders By Choice Alliance, says IBCs are anyone who lives on P.E.I., whether they were born here or not.
The alliance has become a rapidly-growing movement on the online social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.
It began when O’Hanley and her co-chair Heather Wilson discovered many newcomers to the province often find it difficult to make lasting relationships with native Islanders.
“I was really surprised by the response I got on Twitter from people who said, ‘Actually that’s the truth.’ Either they knew someone, or they live here themselves, and they had run into obstacles when they came here,” said O’Hanley.
“People find it hard to break into communities because most people are just too tied up with their families or they’ve had friends that they’ve known forever. It’s not that they intentionally block people out, it’s just that they’re so wrapped up in their own lives that they don’t think to include other people.”
The Islanders By Choice Alliance is intended to be a “support group” of Islanders helping newcomers to feel more welcome.
In a few short months, the group has amassed hundreds of followers on Facebook and Twitter.
The organizers thought Monday – Islander Day – would be the perfect time to hold the group’s first meet and greet in Charlottetown. O’Hanley promises similar events in Western P.E.I. soon.
“We have huge plans for this group. We have a director in (Prince County) and we’re looking for one in the east end because we want this to be Island wide,” she said.
The alliance will operate as a non-profit, and the board of directors will soon set out its mandate. The IBCA plans to meet with as many potential partners as possible in the coming months, including the provincial government.
O’Hanley said most Islanders she’s talked to aren’t surprised that CFAs often have a difficult time fitting in, and she suspects people from larger areas have more social venues to meet like-minded people.
But if the alliance has its way, many new networks will grow out of the Islanders By Choice initiative.
“During the summer, we plan to have events in each county in the same month. We also hope to form smaller groups and have them be their own entities, like book clubs or dinner clubs, and we’ll organize it and let them run it on their own,” said O’Hanley. “It’s really to put a face to those people we’ve been talking to on Facebook, because everyone’s really anxious to meet the people they’ve been making connections with on there.”
The group’s first meet and greet takes place from 7 to 10 p.m., upstairs at the Old Triangle restaurant in Charlottetown.
Find the group on Twitter @IslandersBCA, on Facebook, or visit the website: peislanderbychoice.wordpress.co