Unless you’ve been living in the same town and same neighbourhood, working at the same place for your whole life… chances are you’ve got some experience as the newcomer to a situation. You know what it’s like to be unfamiliar with the lay of the land, the way things are done… and who to go to for help with getting established in a new location.
Newcomers need a helping hand and the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL) wants to encourage the whole community to help them get it.
According to recent trends the West Kootenay region is the destination for about one per cent of immigrants to Canada. The diversity they bring is a benefit to all of us. Cultural variety makes our communities more vibrant and interesting.
Megan Read (pictured below), CBAL’s local settlement worker paid a visit to the Castlegar News on Thursday, Sept. 12 to spread the word about services available to new residents.
Providing verbal and written information, Read outlined the program.
“Certainly there are services for anyone who is learning English,” Read began. “There’s a one-to-one tutor program, there are English classes at the library… and they’re all free.”
But frustrating roadblocks can likely exist, even for the immigrant who is fluent in English.
“Coming into a new country is pretty overwhelming,” Read pointed out. “We forget that everything is still brand new… how to get your health insurance, or where to go for a driver’s licence, for example… all these things are new, not done the same way as where the person is from.”
The CBAL plan for easing the transition of newcomers has a part that you and I can play. It’s called First Contact Training and it’s designed to allow each of us to be helpful to someone making this their new home. There’s a class coming up toward the middle of next month, Megan can let you know the details if you’re interested. She’s fully prepared and eager to respond to all queries.
As one of four settlement workers (based in Castlegar, Nelson, Trail and Grand Forks) Read can:
• provide information to individuals or small groups about housing, banking, shopping, transportation, daycare, schools… volunteer and mentoring programs;
• acquaint people with services relating to employment, health and various other points about adapting to life in Canada. She can also provide referrals.
Those eligible for these services include permanent residents (or those with a letter of approval), live-in caretakers, new Canadian citizens, refugees, or those in the Provincial Nominee program.
Printed information on how to access details of the Settlement Services is available at numerous locations in Castlegar, and online as well, but the most straightforward link to share here, now, is Megan Read’s contact information. Call her at 250-687-4714 or email firstname.lastname@example.org