1. How did you get involved with newcomers?
I became actively involved in assisting new commers to our area in 2015. Our community saw an increase of families coming to our area. I was and still currently am working for the Employment + Education Centre. Our organization and other partners which included St Lawrence Rideau Immigration Centre, TR Leger Adult Learning (ESL) and First Presbyterian Church worked together in providing many different services and wrap around supports. Our services included providing individuals new to our area with career development, pre-employment training, skill development, job search assistance, interview preparation, on the job coaching, mentoring and guidance.
I have continued to work with newcomers through the Employment + Education Centre, not only assisting with employment but educating employers on creating an inclusive workplace environment. It is important for newcomers to feel at ease not only in their community but the work environment.
2. Has your involvement with newcomers changed your perspective on anything? If so, what, and how?
I personally had never worked with newcomers until 2015. This was such an honour and humbling experience. I got to better understand different cultures and help create a welcoming community by offering support and making the transition into the workplace easier for them to adapt and learn.
I became more aware of the challenges they face when coming to a new community. Such as discrimination, finding an adequate job, access to childcare, missing support and family from their homeland as well as adapting to new culture.
3. What do you think makes a good community ally to newcomers?
I think what makes a good community ally to newcomers is first learn about the experiences of marginalized groups of people. Build relationships with them. Get to know the people and their cultures. Be a welcoming, accepting and friendly community. Brockville needs to show people we are here with open arms and ready to support new community members.
4. What impact do you think newcomers have had on the region/Canada?
Immigrants contribute to our economy and to our city. Our national population is retiring, getting older, our birth rates are low. These demographic realities will create economic and fiscal challenges in the years to come. Immigrants coming to Canada will have positive impact by making our workforce stronger, bring new skills and ideas, help our economy be more resilient, vital and competitive globally.
5. Is there anything you’d change about Leeds and Grenville?
I would like for our Leeds and Grenville communities to become more aware of other cultures, diversity and become a more welcoming and inclusive community. When I say to become a more welcoming community, I mean for us to listen and learn from newcomers, be interested in their life experiences, religion, and background. Welcome them, listen, show empathy, make them feel safe in Leeds and Grenville and make no assumptions or judgements. We want newcomers to feel welcomed and comfortable for who they are. Make them feel belonged and part of our community. I would challenge our whole community that next time you see someone of a different culture, smile and say hi.