Lucy, holding an additional letter she wrote for her dad.
Yesterday, Torontoist visited the Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF), a Weston-based community centre that caters to recent immigrants, for the Toronto launch of Canada Post’s letters to Santa program. The event, which was an offshoot of LEF’s regularly scheduled children’s arts program, equipped kids from the neighbourhood with paper, markers, crayons, candy, cookies, and hot chocolate—everything necessary to write a letter to Santa.
Brianna (left) and Cadence, hard at work on their letters to Santa.
For many of the kids, several of who were recent immigrants, this was the first time they had ever written a letter to Santa. Of course, video games, phones, and laptops were the hot items in almost every letter, but we were particularly impressed by the wish of five-year-old Cadence: “I want a map of the world,” she told us, “so when I grow up, I can be an explorer.”
Since 1982, when the Canada Post program was first established, volunteer elves (current and former employees) have answered 17.4 million letters on Santa’s behalf. In 2008, Canada Post responded to 1.4 million letters and sixty-three thousand emails, in more than twenty-seven languages, including Braille. And unlike the U.S. program, which has been dogged by security concerns, there’s no threat that the Canadian program will end anytime soon.
Security has never been a problem, according to Jennifer Arnott, a Canada Post communications officer. “With the Canada Post program, we’re very careful about making sure that all the people that answer letters are Canada Post employees or former employees.”
Vin Heney, a LEF youth leadership worker, talks to the kids about proper letter-writing etiquette.
Before they write any letters, volunteers are screened and trained, and they are never given access to the children’s addresses. Canada Post also uses a computer tracking system, so it knows the author of each and every letter.
As always, letters to Santa can be addressed to:
Santa also responds to emails, which can be sent from Santa’s Corner on the Canada Post website. Although, if you send an email, Santa and his elves can only reply via email.
(Fun fact: although H0H 0H0 is reserved for Santa Claus, the H0-prefix is actually associated with a rural area of Montreal, and only the Akwesasne Region (H0M) shares the same prefix.)
All photos by Stephen Michalowicz/Torontoist.