Helping Other Newcomers to Integrate (too) Brings Personal Rewards

Winnifred1Winifred Marks echoes what many new immigrants to Canada experience: “The hardest part is getting yourself settled into a job that is appropriate for you, your skills—and that is to your satisfaction.”

Born and educated in Guyana, Winifred has a BSc. Sociology degree and post graduate diploma in education; she has taught for more than 23 years. She and her husband Anthony had been living and working in Botswana for thirteen years before immigrating to Canada in April 2012 to join Anthony’s parents and siblings.

Winifred’s education was recognized by the Government of Alberta’s IQAS (International Qualifications Assessment Service) as two degrees. However, securing a teaching role in Canada proved difficult. To help support the family she began working at Walmart and volunteered at Edmonton’s Grey Nuns Community Hospital as a way to integrate into the community. “I became familiar with the role of medical receptionists during the volunteer experience and believed this could be a good alternate career for me,” says Winifred.

A loan from IAF helped Winifred complete the six month medical receptionist diploma program while she still worked part-time. After her studies, Winifred chose to bring all her skills and passion to her role as Early Childhood Program Facilitator with the KARA Family Resource Centre. She delivers workshops for parents together with their preschoolers.

Many of the mothers attending are new immigrants too. “I find my work very rewarding,” says Winifred. “Often the newcomer families I am working with feel disconnected and uncertain about life in Canada. I am able to share my experiences and my insight. I tell them to be open to possibilities and to utilize all the government and agency services available to them.”

Winifred is thankful to the initial immigration officer who welcomed her, Anthony and their nine year-old son Colwin to Canada. “He directed us to settlement services and it was through these I learned about IAF too,” says Winifred.

“I have referred many people to IAF. I tell them if you want to continue your career and want to study but don’t have the finances, this is the place to come. You must be focused on what you want to do and IAF will help you.”

Every year, IAF helps hundreds of immigrants by providing loans to help them pay for the licensing or training they need to work in their field in Canada. Now more than ever Canada’s newcomers need our help. Please consider a donation to IAF today.