Paris Retreat Hosts Migrant Workers Through Pandemic

BRANT COUNTY – Five Oaks Retreat Centre in Paris usually hosts private, corporate, small groups and couples for quiet stays in nature. This year, the 117-acre property along the Grand River and Whitemans Creek has been host to migrant workers.

Five Oaks ceased their normal operations in mid-March when they were unable to welcome guests, non-essential staff, and volunteers to the site due to the pandemic. However, the facility quickly found another way to serve the community as an isolation centre for migrant workers arriving in the area.

Executive Director, Michael Shewburg says they have been working with farms in both Brant and Norfolk counties since April to support the area’s agricultural growing season as an isolation centre.

Shewburg explains, upon arrival in Canada, the workers travel immediately to Five Oaks. The property is arranged to ensure the appropriate physical distancing and isolation amongst the workers.

While the retreat is now offering day camps in a separate section of the property, Shewburg says they will also continue to accommodate migrant workers into the fall.