Archway Community Services in Abbotsford is playing a key role in welcoming newcomers into Fraser Valley communities.
Through a variety of different programs, Archway helps newcomers learn English, find employment, and integrate into the community.
One program, Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC), had more than 500 students studying English, Canadian history and culture in 2022.
“LINC has helped folks from all over the world improve their language skills so they can integrate into the local community and workforce,” says Paula Mannington, Archway’s manager of English language training.
The Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants (CPSI) program helps newcomers to continue their career in Canada and find employment related to their experience abroad.
Staff provide career planning and ongoing support; practicum and mentorship opportunities; and connections to local employers. The program supports clients in obtaining Canadian licensing for regulated professions such as dentistry, legal services and teaching.
“Newcomers often have in-demand skills and just need some one-to-one support in navigating the Canadian job market,” says Mila Aberten, Archway’s CPSI program coordinator.
New Canadian Ashima, who immigrated from India, said that although she came here with with high hopes and expectations, there are difficulties that a new immigrant encounters.
She said the most painful part was that her dental degree was not recognized in Canada, and she would either have to write three or four exams to gain a licence to practise, or apply to an advanced standing program in Canadian dental schools to gain a Canadian dental degree.
Ashima said that she felt alone and confused while trying to navigate her career options.
“My Archway program coordinator was very kind, encouraging and knowledgeable,” Ashima said.
“The first thing she did was send me a list of Canadian dental schools that actually accepted foreign-trained dentists in advanced placement programs. I was amazed by her enthusiasm and, with the emotional as well as financial support Archway provides, I was able to clear the examinations I had to write to secure an admission interview.”
Ashima is now furthering her education at McGill University in Quebec.
With ongoing labour shortages and almost 100 per cent of Canadian labour force growth coming from immigration, newcomers like Ashima are playing a key role in Canada’s recovery from the pandemic.
Archway programs to support newcomers are largely funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), a branch of the federal government, which facilitates the arrival of immigrants, provides protection to refugees, and offers programs to help newcomers settle in Canada.
Additional IRCC funding in 2022 enabled Archway’s LINC program to offer two new workplace classes that focused on language skills for training and job placement.
The LINC classes arranged for new immigrants to gain volunteer experience and exposure to different types of jobs, as most did not have community work experience in Canada.
After taking a LINC class, Echo Hong Tian was hired to work with children with diverse needs. She had previously been a stay-at-home home mom for eight years.
“The LINC program has played a crucial role to get this job,” Tian said. “I joined LINC for language learning purposes and, in return, I learned much more than the language. I learned about Canadian culture and values, labour demand, workplace, Canadian geography and history, and other cultures from my peers.”
Tian said LINC improved her communication skills through group discussions where respect-based opinion expressing, problem-solving, and facilitating group discussions are practised often.
“The LINC class boosted my personal confidence and helped me deal with challenges in the workplace and beyond,” she said.
Other Archway programs for immigrants include tutoring, conversation circles, a youth homework support club, settlement support, parenting classes, and training for careers in the retail and customer service industry.
In Abbotsford, the number of landed immigrants or permanent residents grew 31.7 per cent from 2016 to 2021, from 33,390 to 43,910. The number of immigrants accounted for 28.6 percent of the total population in Abbotsford in 2021.
Visit Archway.ca/Newcomers for more information on Archway’s immigrant settlement programs.