St. Thomas Journal

St. Thomas Journal

St. Thomas Journal, 23 March 2012

ST. THOMAS – Over the next three years, one area group will be hard at work making the transition to the region easier for immigrants.

Since last summer, the St. Thomas-Elgin Local immigration Partnership — funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada — has hosted roundtable discussions, distributed surveys and conducted in-person interviews to gauge newcomers’ needs.

Those efforts culminated in an open house Tuesday evening at CASO Railway Station in which organizers, participants and other guests were given the Settlement Strategy, a detailed report with statistical information on the area’s minorities and a blueprint for enhancing services and opportunities for them.

“Everything we heard was interesting in the sense that the county is so diverse….You hear different voices and different perspectives so we’re always learning,” said project co-ordinator Alfredo Marroquin who emigrated from El Salvador in 1984.

“The more resources that we provide to newcomers, the more integrated they feel. The sense of belonging that they experiences is increased when they see our services that are meant for them.”

The priorities identified by participants included increased language training, opportunities to get housing and orientation programs.

The immigration partnership came up with about 50 action steps to be taken over the next three years to help newcomers more easily access the Canadian employment market, acclimate them to Canadian norms, and create more opportunities for language training, among others.