Matthew Ritchie, Community Integration Coordinator at YMCA Immigrant Services in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
For over 25 years, YMCA Immigrant Services has supported the settlement needs of newcomers in Nova Scotia. We offer programs and services that help newcomers and their families in schools and communities across the province.
Supports for Newcomers in Nova Scotia
At the YMCA, we help newcomers understand the systems and support available to them and their families. Settlement organizations like YMCA Immigrant Services and Immigrant Settlement Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), provincial and federal government departments, and other community organizations offer programs and services. The YMCA helps newcomers navigate what supports may be needed and provides opportunities for newcomers to connect with other newcomers, long-term residents, and Canadians.
Crisis Prevention, Intervention, and Integration Services at YMCA
For the past four years, the Crisis Prevention, Intervention, and Integration Team at the YMCA have been supporting newcomers to Nova Scotia who are at risk of crisis due to low language/literacy in English, low computer literacy, or challenging life experiences. The Crisis Team works with newcomers who may need extra support and work together with community partners and newcomer families to navigate difficult crises. Some examples of crises include:
- Police involvement
- Eviction/pest control/landlord issues
- Conflict, physical or verbal
- Support in understanding laws, rights, and responsibilities in Nova Scotia
- Child Protection involvement with Department at Community Services
- Personal relationship challenges
- Financial crisis
- Car accidents
- Health concerns
- The Crisis Team can also prevent crises by connecting newcomer families with support systems, including Canada Revenue Agency/Canada Child Benefit, Nova Scotia Department of Community Services- Income Assistance, Nova Scotia Health Card, Language Assessments, and many other programs and services.
Finding an Apartment in Nova Scotia
One of the first steps for many newcomers to Nova Scotia is searching for an apartment. Nova Scotia is small compared to larger cities in Canada, so speaking with someone in person or on the phone and being polite can increase newcomers’ chances of finding an apartment. Being friendly and upbeat can help a lot!
Some of the strategies listed below can help build networks and pathways for newcomers to find their first apartment:
- Joining public Facebook groups and posting what type of apartment is needed. Examples of public Facebook groups include Welcoming Intercultural Newcomers Association, Indo Canadian Association of Nova Scotia, Halifax Muslims, Syrian Friends in Halifax.
- Driving/taking the bus/walking in neighbourhoods and calling the Property Manager/Resident Manager/Superintendent listed outside buildings to ask about apartments that may be available
- Connecting with faith groups/community leaders to ask if they know of possible apartments
- Searching on Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace
- Calling/Emailing/Texting large apartment companies like Killam, Universal, Capreit to ask about available apartments