What's the Buzz at Next Stop Canada?
Doing What We Do Best: Connecting Virtually With Immigrants Before They Arrive to Canada
Next Stop Canada had the great pleasure of joining Prepare for Canada’s annual Virtual Fair from July 18-19. We were given our own booth under the YMCA of Greater Toronto, which gave us the opportunity to promote our services to over 50 participants. The overall experience of helping clients in a virtual fair setting is something new for us, but overall being able to help clients in this setting is something is invigorating and felt great. As we move towards an increasingly digital era, it gave us a sense of how people may prefer to utilize settlement services in the future. This is a great option for individuals who cannot visit an in-person location due to various reasons, including distance, time, finances, and family life.
Participants of the virtual fair “approached” our booth with an array of different questions. Topics ranged from settlement concerns, such as applying for important government documents, to accessing employment services. Once people realized how efficient and reliable we were in answering their questions, they became more receptive to learn about Next Stop Canada’s services. So we took the opportunity to encourage participants to register for our services so they could ask questions beyond the two days that were allocated for the virtual fair. They were ecstatic to learn there were people in Canada that were readily available to assist them through their immigration journey. Some of them even registered for our program! All in all, it was a great learning opportunity and hopefully Prepare for Canada will have us back next year.
Client Success Story
Immigrating From the Busy Streets of the Philippines to the Calm and Quiet City of Miramichi in New Brunswick
For many migrants looking for opportunities abroad, living and working in Canada is a dream come true. The Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) program is one of many ways immigrants can make this dream come true. Meet one of Next Stop Canada AIP clients, Virginia Tottoc, as she shares her experience about her journey to Canada and her life in the beautiful town of Miramichi, New Brunswick.
- What are your reasons for coming to Canada?
I’ve been away from my family for so many years as an Overseas Foreign Worker in the Middle East. Settling in Canada [provides more stability and] will give me the opportunity to be with my children permanently and work at the same time.
- How was your landing in Canada? What were your first impressions as soon as you landed in New Brunswick?
I would say that because of the proper application and well-supported documents, my entry to Canada went smooth and I had a positive experience. My first impression upon arrival in New Brunswick is that the locals are very approachable and friendly. The place is very quiet and simple, which later on I can say is a better place for a newcomer like me to stay and adjust to the simple and complex life here in Canada.
- During your first few days/weeks in Canada, what did you do? Did you avail any settlement agencies to help you?
During my first few weeks here in New Brunswick, my friend introduced me to some of the few Filipinos who had been in the province for quite some years now. They were with the multicultural department, who assisted and directed me on important documents/cards to apply for (New Brunswick ID, Medicare), how to open a bank account and what I should do to better integrate with the community.
- How do you find Canada so far?
I would say my first 4 weeks in Canada was tough for me. Everything from lifestyle to adjusting to a new work environment was difficult to get used to. I felt alone and but also independent, as I had to tackle certain things along such as dealing with finances and taxes. This being said, Canada so far is a bittersweet experience, however, overall I don’t feel as stressed as I was back home and other countries we previously worked in. There are many great opportunities, it is safe and the laid-back lifestyle of the Miramichiers’ is so inviting it inspires me to keep going, know the adjustment will get better.
- Can you let us know what your typical day like in Miramichi is? (Describe your work, after work etc.)
With my job, I am on an on-call basis, however, there are times that duties are pre-booked. I work anywhere between 8 to 12 hours. I love my job and I have already adjusted to it. After work I like to go for a walk downtown or I simply relax at home.
- What are your hopes and dreams in Canada? What do you want to achieve?
My dream is to bring my family to come to join me in Canada. I wish to continue working and contributing to the country.
- How did our program, Next Stop Canada, help you?
Next Stop Canada was a great help for my immigration process. Receiving the settlement plan from the YMCA was quick, diligent and prompt. They also responded to my urgent needs by giving me the information and referrals necessary for my settlement in New Brunswick. The people I corresponded with were very friendly and easy to connect with, as they always responded to my emails in a timely manner. The settlement plan was very helpful in preparing me for life in Miramichi and what I needed to do in order to integrate within my new community. They provided information on everything from health care, how to open a bank account and free services available to newcomers in the region.
Dedicated and Eager: How One Newcomer Youth is Passing on His Wisdom to Others Like Him
Su Sung immigrated to Canada six years ago from South Korea with his family. He was sixteen years old, so he was both nervous and excited to leave his home country where all his friends were. Remembering all the mixed emotions he felt when he first moved to Canada, anxiety and fear included, Su Sung thought it would be great to give back to other people that are going through a similar situation. This is why he decided to volunteer for Next Stop Canada’s Youth Program as a mentor. Since joining, he has been able to help other newcomer youth through their experience of immigrating to Canada. He does this by being a guide, mentor and a friend. His experience thus far has connected him with other like-minded youth who are just as driven to find success in Canada. Additionally, he’s made friendships and acquired skills that are valuable to his future, which he is eager to pass on to other newcomer youth. Su Sung feels good that he is able to help newcomer youth feel more confident and safe about moving to Canada.
He is a great source of inspiration for our youth clients, having successfully completed high school in Toronto and now studying Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto. The future is bright for Su Sung, who may continue his studies in Graduate school in a subject related to his field. However, he will keep his options open, considering finding a job that will give him the experience to gain new skills. For now, he will focus on getting through his undergraduate studies and continue to motivate other newcomers to do great in Canada. It’s safe to say Su Sung is a shining example of all the opportunities and support that is available to newcomer youth here in Canada.
Volunteering with Next Stop Canada
A Seasoned Veteran Volunteer
Riyan Mody began his volunteer journey with Next Stop Canada two years ago, contributing as a guest blogger for our website. His insights as a newcomer (he had only been in the country a few months before connecting with us) were valued and appreciated by the team. Before immigrating, he had a lot of questions and anxieties about how life in Canada was really like. These were often triggered by various sources giving him different accounts about what to expect. Some provided a positive outlook, while others were more gloom. When he finally did settle in Canada, he quickly learned that people presented a distorted idea about the newcomer experience in Canada. This is why Riyan wanted to contribute to Next Stop Canada’s Pre-Arrival Services to assist other likes him, making their journey to Canada.
He has been incremental in the growth of Next Stop Canada’s pre-arrival services. Apart from writing two blog posts about his experience as a newcomer in Canada (‘Mentor Stories: One Volunteer’s Immigration Journey’ and ‘Develop French Language Skills in Toronto’), he manages various tasks to ensure our clients are benefited by his range of skills and expertise. He continuously provides helpful advice and guidance on our Mentor’s Forum for clients with a background in Human Resources and IT, he researches events across Canada that can be included on our Events Calendar, and most recently he contributed to our panel discussion at the NSC Presents Final Stop Ontario: A Community Connection Event. Apart from all that he does for us, Riyan is a highly energetic person with a passion for flying, travel and music.
Next Stop Canada in Action!
How Pre-Arrival Programs Are Collaborating to Ensure Best Service Experience for Newcomers
On May 9th, 2018, the Pre-Arrival Frontline Working group had their first meeting. This group is comprised of staff members representing various pre-arrival settlement service agencies funded by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). These agencies have shared interests in working together to provide supports and services for immigrants prior to their arrival to Canada. The purpose of this committee is to provide an opportunity/environment for communication, discussion and collaboration between front line staff members. As a committee, monthly meetings are held to achieve various objectives, with the ultimate goal to improve service delivery for pre-arrival immigrants. As a committee we:
- Share best practices
- Provide/come up with solutions to improve cross-referral and collaboration
- Discuss the challenges experienced by frontline staff and devise solutions
- Provide input and feedback to add value to pre-arrival services
- Discuss and create innovative solutions to improve sector impact and reach
The committee will be working on two projects in the upcoming months. The first will be to lead a join service providers newsletter that can be shared with all stakeholders; the second is a collaborative webinar to promote the different services. This committee is an excellent demonstration of collaboration, teamwork, and support.
Final Stop Ontario: A Community Connection Event
On August 25th we held our first ever post-arrival community connection event at Toronto Central Grosvenor St. YMCA Centre. ‘Next Stop Canada presents Final Stop Ontario’ was designed to connect and support newcomers in their transition into living in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Participants of this event were able to connect with community programs/services (i.e.settlement, employment, and education), connect with other newcomers, and be motivated and inspired by mentors and panelists. The day started with a heartfelt message from the YMCA of Greater Toronto’s CEO Medhay Mahdy, sharing his own immigration journey to Canada and encouraging newcomers to persevere through challenges. This set the tone for the day, which was followed by a panel discussion of established newcomers from a range of different professions. Their knowledge and expertise was well received and greatly valued.
The day continued with a Community Fair with partners from the following organizations:
- Afghan Women’s Organization
- ACCES Employment
- Agincourt Community Services Association
- CPA Ontario
- Humber College
- Immigrant Access Fund
- Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto
- Ontario Society of Professional Engineers
- Catholic Cross Cultural – Mississauga
- Toronto Public Library
- Toronto Catholic School Board
- Volunteer Toronto
- YMCA of Greater Toronto’s Immigrant Services
This allowed attendees to learn about programs and services available to them in the city. Many of them did not know about such services before attending the event. They also had a chance to meet with an employment counsellor to receive advice and feedback on how to create a Canadian style resume. With many of the newcomers having arrived a few months ago, finding a job was their priority, so this was very helpful for them. We ended the day by drawing prizes sponsored by Brita, CampTech and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Next Stop Canada hopes to make this an annual event and continue bridging the gap between pre-arrival and post-arrival services in the city!
Feeling Empowered at the Immigrant Women's Small Business Expo
The Canadian Small Business Women was established by Dwania Peele, who wanted to help bridge the gap between dreams and reality. As an immigrant herself, she aims to help other immigrant women find the resources and information they need to realize their dreams of having a profitable business. One of the ways she does this is through the Immigrant Women’s Small Business Expo, an annual event where immigrant women, leaders, community service providers and professionals from various backgrounds come together to share their knowledge and expertise in a supportive environment. Next Stop Canada had the opportunity to attend this year’s event, which was held on September 16th at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto.
The Expo hosted expert panels, including one with inspiring newcomer women holding positions in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and another debunking common myths about ‘Minimum Wage & the Impact on Small Business.’ The participants not only gained incredible knowledge and resources, but felt motivated from the inspirational stories of the brilliant immigrant women and their success stories.
There were also workshops to inform participants about ‘Cyber Security’, ‘Starting a Business in Canada,’ and ‘Essentials of Networking on Social Media.’ In addition to all this, there was an Exhibitor Hall, where we were able to make valuable community connections with various organizations. We also successfully recruited a mentor who will be able to share her advice on how she became an engineer in Canada, which will help other newcomers looking to find work in the same field.
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