Salem, MA — The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association presents this year’s second community conversation of the season. Former Salem City Councilor William Legault will lead a discussion about immigration from the North. The event will be held in The Gables’ Visitor Center on Thursday, April 28, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. There is no admission fee, refreshments will be served and parking is available.
While the majority of Salem’s immigrant population has come to the United States from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, many hail from Canada. Legault will share stories about the French-Canadian experience of life in Salem’s Point neighborhood. He’ll describe, as well, how his early experiences shaped his own views about Salem and immigration. The frequently heard question, “Why can’t these immigrants be more like us?” is Legault’s provocative topic.
A frank, safe and open conversation about immigration, especially as this human experience unfolds in Salem and surrounding communities, is the aim of this series at The House of the Seven Gables. As such, these conversations are expected to be sensitive and compelling. Ana Nuncio, Manager of the Settlement Partnerships at The Gables and coordinator of this two-year series, supplies ground rules at the outset so that people feel comfortable sharing their viewpoints and concerns. The Settlement Association coordinates and manages the series, with support from Historic New England, the Salem Award Foundation, Catholic Charities and the North Shore Community Development Coalition.
Nuncio says that the Gables’ community partners want to develop a better understanding of the immigrant population, many of whom settled in Salem in the ’70s. They came to the Boston and Salem areas in response to their countries’ dire political and economic upheaval.
The mission of The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association, says Nuncio, “is to preserve our National Historic Landmark — The House of the Seven Gables — and leverage its power to engage diverse communities. Once all segments of Salem’s population are better integrated,” she says, “our city becomes more robust, and all residents feel they have a stake in it.”
“We’re very fortunate in Salem,” she says. “Here’s a city that consciously tries to correct the social wrongdoings of its past and tries to be very deliberate about treating people fairly.” She hopes that these conversations encourage a pattern of questioning in individual residents and among Salem’s various communities. She hopes to help broaden understanding within the community so that we can see each other through a more humane lens.
Those interested may contact The House of the Seven Gables at http://www.7gables.org or 978-744-0991.