1. How did you get involved with newcomers?
My parents are immigrants, and I grew up in Nunavut, so I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by a mix of cultures. I love to travel and am naturally curious about those whose lived experiences differ from my own. In my work in employment services, that translates to looking at how our systems work for those in need of them - including new Canadians – and aiming to make them more accessible and relevant.
2. Has your involvement with newcomers changed your perspective on anything/your workplace? If so, what and how?
It’s certainly given me more insight into how hard people have to work when systems are not set up in ways that align with their culture and values.
3. What do you think is most helpful for newcomers to know about working in Canada?
Canada is viewed as a multi-cultural land of safety and opportunity and that is true. But we still have a long way to go in terms of fair and healthy standards for all and people need to hear that they can be doing all the right things and it can still be a hard transition. It’s not a reflection on who they are as workers or as people.
4. What do you wish people knew about newcomer workers?
That they are just people. They have just as many individual differences as everyone else. Generalizations, even positive-sounding ones such as ‘they have such strong work ethic’ can be harmful because they create expectations that people may not be able to live up to.
5. How many newcomers have you worked with and in what capacities?
The EEC has worked with folks originating from over 35 countries. We work to coordinate employability training in different languages, to support the orientation process for their employers, to help them access all the community supports they can to ease the adjustment
6. Do you have advice for anyone looking to hire/work with newcomers?
Just do it! As with all new employees, strong communication is key in setting and understanding expectations. Investing the time in proper onboarding and establishing a healthy work culture is crucial. And if you have questions on how to do this, please call us at the EEC! We’re here to help.
7. What do you think Leeds and Grenville needs to do to attract/retain newcomers?
We need the infrastructure of course- housing, transit, internet- these can all be challenges for anyone looking to settle here. But this is a beautiful place to live with many wonderful people. I suppose I would ask us to appreciate newcomers for being exactly who they are and not some idealized picture of who you expect them to be. Stay curious and challenge your own biases as well as your inner circles’. And take every opportunity to share a meal with someone. The best connections are made through food!