Newcomers Overcoming Challenges
by Jamila Kyari
Despite obstacles facing immigrants in Canada, usually bordering around recognition of foreign credentials, employment, language needs, education, culture-shock or changes in economic and social status, many continue to achieve success. Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Programs (ISAP) such as Newcomer Services for Adults are one of the many initiatives funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada providing effective services to empower clients become independent and successful in the country. The stories speak for themselves as various newcomers share their experiences with others who are on the journey of settlement.
She came to Toronto, from Morocco in November 2008 with her husband and 1.5 year old daughter and had three major hurdles – namely; finding a house, job and affordable daycare for her daughter. She explains, “After staying in a guest house upon arrival for a week, we moved into a room in a house that was shared with the landlord for fifteen days and eventually into the basement. Finally, we decided to look for an apartment. This was challenging because most building owners require a guarantor and if you do not have a job, it is very difficult.” However, with a lot of determination and a bit of luck she managed to find her way to an apartment.
The next hurdle was finding a job, and that was very difficult because she could not afford to put her daughter into a private daycare. She was unable to attend schools or workshops since there was no one to take care of her young daughter. She was happy when she realized that Newcomer Services for Adults (NSA) at Morningside offered childminding services. There, she attended workshops that acquainted her with life in Canada and helped her with job searching, résumé writing, guidance in choosing schools and more.
“Eventually, I applied for subsidized daycare and soon was called for an interview. Finally I could secure a spot for my daughter in a daycare near to my house. This was a big step for me. I was able to attend training programs and start my job search in full swing. NSA referred me to an ELT program and after attending it, I ended up in a placement with an airline company for 6 weeks. At the end of the co-op placement, I had two work related references. I could now use these in my job search.”, she says.
On September, 2009, Sihame L. obtained her first position in Canada as a Bilingual Assistant at a Montessori School in Scarborough. When asked about her job, she looked thrilled and said “I feel very satisfied because this is the kind of job I wanted and dreamed of.
I have no regrets in moving to Canada. It is a country offering many opportunities to immigrants. My husband and I are very happy to have made the right choice.”
Manishkumar P. was very excited when he first arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport with his son and wife. He says that it was like a dream come true, from the good mannered people and a well managed public transportation system with its TTC buses that kneel for the kids, elders and physically challenged people. “It was beyond my imagination. Even though there was an initial culture-shock, I gradually understood the multiculturalism of Canada. It takes time for anyone to adjust in a new country with different weather but once you start trying, things flow easily.”
He was introduced to Newcomer Services for Adults – Malvern on his second day in Toronto by a relative.
“Initially, I thought it was a centre for free internet, printing and fax services but NSA provided very systematic ways of helping newcomers. This includes the “to-do” checklist, effective résumé writing, interviewing, warming up to cold-calling and much more. It presented a thoroughly planned schedule of activities for a newcomer. The staff from this centre were very helpful and I was referred to other agencies for assistance,” he says.
According to him, getting a job within his field of Electrical Engineering has been the toughest challenge, especially due to the lack of Canadian experience. However, there were opportunities where his career could take a new direction. The statistics on Canadian labour market trends provides a guide towards choosing a career path.
Praveen who immigrated from India through the Skilled Workers Class describes Canada as a safe, friendly environment with an excellent education system. He explains that while most new immigrants have done some research and have a pretty good idea of what to expect, the reality of joblessness and “odd jobs” is still a cruel shock especially to older well-established professionals. “Starting at the bottom twice in a lifetime is not often a welcome prospect and it’s much harder, both physically and psychologically when you are older. Many employers don’t want to hire an employee who might not understand how things are done in Canada because there are Canadian work and cultural expectations. The workshops run by NSA helped me reshape those practices and it is definitely helping me realize my dreams,” he says.
Staying positive and focused led to the successes you’ve read above and many more. Immigration Settlement and Adaptation (ISAP) Programs are designed to provide extra support, assistance and referrals to community resources in housing, legal, employment, transportation and more. Newcomer Services for Adults is one such program funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, operated by the Toronto District School Board.