The next sessions of the pilot project for newcomers to Canada offered by Aurora Public Library and Catholic Community Services of York Region will take place on September 15 and October 18.
A new pilot project for newcomers to Canada has proven to be a huge success for Aurora Public Library (APL) and Catholic Community Services of York Region (CCSYR).
Launched last month, the APL Program Settlement Worker sees a CCSYR counselor stationed in the library lounge once a month to answer questions about careers, employment, housing, healthcare, l education, public transport, etc. in several languages.
In communities like Aurora without a formal welcome center, newcomers used to have the option of going to similar centers in Newmarket and Richmond Hill – but libraries like APL are often the first point of departure for new Canadians at home. search for answers.
The APL’s Settlement Assistance Program was designed to help new residents get those answers and, after heavy use in July, is expected to continue through the fall.
“Sometimes people come to the library because they don’t know where to go to get information,” says Sara Meghdadpour, CCSYR settlement worker. “As we provide services to newcomers, many don’t know much about the system and the biggest barrier is language. When we announce that different languages are available, they are more comfortable talking to the person who speaks their own language.
“I speak English and Farsi and the community is growing in Aurora. It helped them get in and they wanted to know how to find a job, how they could rent a house, the roles of tenants and landlords and…how they could find English lessons and assess their language level. Many other things bring them; they don’t even know how to open a bank account, which banks to go to. Many of them are not even familiar with searching online and they receive help to find the way.
Seeing this unfold has been “very rewarding” for Claudia Olguin, Community Initiatives Manager for the PLA.
“For this kind of program, it doesn’t matter if you’re helping one client or 50, as long as you’re helping a person settle in Canada, find a new job, find a home or whatever their needs are, that’s enough,” she said. “It gives us the energy to continue this work. Even if you help one person, you make a difference in a family and sometimes, with these families, you make a big difference in the community.
“It’s very rewarding when you see them months later and their English has improved, or they’ve found a job or a career because a lot of them who come here come and their degrees aren’t not recognized, they have to go back to school, but when you see them again and see that they have succeeded, that is the best reward these types of jobs give.
Given the success of the program from the start, Aurora Public Library is looking to continue and expand the program in the future.
The next session will take place from 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 15. The lineup will change to a different monthly rotation beginning Tuesday, October 18 from 1-4:30 p.m. All sessions will take place in the library lounge.
“Helping people has always been my passion,” says Sarah. “I was always trying to update myself with new information and [when I can make a difference] I feel happy and this confidence is very important. When you provide services, you can build that trust and that’s a very important first step we can take with people. I can’t explain how happy and happy I am to be in this field!
Olguin adds, “Having a settlement worker for APL means connecting with newcomers and directing them to the settlement information and referrals they need to successfully integrate into their new communities. All are welcome for this walk-in program. We hope to see them there and if they have any questions, I can also help them learn more about the library and how the different systems work.
For more information on the program and future initiatives, contact Claudia Olguin at [email protected]
Brock Weir is a federally funded Local Journalism Initiative reporter at The Auroran