Newcomer Stories

Newcomer Story: Ramtha Gawrieh

Ramtha and her familyRamtha and her family were living in Lebanon before they moved to Manitoba. Originally from Syria, they fled the country to escape rising hostilities. Facing the harsh realities of war while caring for and travelling with a newborn child was hard for the family as anyone would imagine. This is why, above everything else, they are most grateful for their peaceful and safe life that they now have in Manitoba.

Unlike most Syrian families who came to Canada by way of refugee sponsorship, Ramtha’s family immigrated through the sponsorship of her brother-in-law who was living in Winnipeg. She remembers their arrival on July 4, 2016: “When we arrived, we found that everything was ready for us. My brother-in-law had rented a house and he bought all the furniture. It was good at first,” Ramtha said. After a year, her brother-in-law moved to a different province leaving them to fend for themselves.

“Learning with EO is “very useful because there is grammar, there is writing, vocabulary and expressions. The teachers are very professional. Teacher Blaine and Amrita are very helpful. Even in the Coffee Chat and workshops, there is a kind of discussion and it’s very nice. I like the articles and the kind of materials that we use because everything is useful. It’s excellent service for us.”

Starting from scratch and setting goals

Despite this setback, the young family knew that they had to adapt. They did not waste time and started working on their settlement in Manitoba.

“Our next concern was to learn the language. After we took our tests from WELARC, we had to wait for our placement in a school because I had a daughter and needed childcare. So I waited until January 2017,” Ramtha said. She started learning English at Mosaic and aimed to earn CLB 6 so that she could enroll in a course at Red River College. Ramtha was waitlisted at Red River so she continued her studies at Enhanced English Skills for Employment (EESE) while waiting.

After studying at EESE, Ramtha delivered her second child. It was at this point that she learned about LINC Home Study. “This was the first time I’ve heard of it,” Ramtha said. “If only I had known about this earlier, I would’ve started LINC with English Online (EO) on my first year. But I’m happy that I’ve joined EO. Online learning works for me. You can do a lot online. You can have a job and study online. In my case, I have kids to take care of,” she said.

Ramtha adds that learning with EO is “very useful because there is grammar, there is writing, vocabulary and expressions. The teachers are very professional. Teacher Blaine and Amrita are very helpful. Even in the Coffee Chat and workshops, there is a kind of discussion and it’s very nice. I like the articles and the kind of materials that we use because everything is useful. It’s excellent service for us.”

Earlier, she had finished a short course on Early Childhood Education. But Ramtha wants to get more education and training to boost her career options so she is continuing to set language goals. Through LINC, she is well on her way to achieving a CLB 8 which will allow her to enroll in a Certificate in Adult Education program in one of the universities in Manitoba.

Still adjusting

After living in Winnipeg for two and half years, Ramtha feels like they still have a long way to go before she can say that they are settled. “We had my brother in law only on the first year. We don’t have friends or family here. But we are trying to adapt,” she said. “We still don’t have jobs yet, I just work for a few hours at Mosaic. After I attended their program, I had the chance to work at Mosaic as a volunteer. And now they are giving me a few hours to work in their family programs. But after I gave birth to my second baby I had to stay at home,” she added.

Ramtha says that their adjustment to Manitoba is made easier by the friendly people and the opportunities immigrants are given to get an education. “I like the people here. They are very helpful. When we go to any organization, any place, we find that people just want to help. They call this place ‘Friendly Manitoba’ and I say that this is true.”

“Another thing I like is that they give you a lot of opportunities to study. Even after they help you learn the language, they give you a chance to complete your studies or maybe finish what you started back home. Most people I meet want to study. Because when you earn a certificate here, it increases your chances to have a good job,” she said.

Tips to newcomers:
Ramtha was a little hesitant when I asked if she had some advice for newcomers saying that “I myself I need a lot of tips because we are still adjusting,” she said, laughing. However, she shared the following:

  1. Come with family. “When you come to Manitoba, I think the best is to come with family. It will be very hard if you are alone. When you come with family, you have their support. There a lot of challenges here and you will need their help. Especially in winter because a lot of us have the winter blues. It’s important to have someone talk to or someone to visit. I myself miss our church community. We haven’t found our church here so we go to different ones when we need to. We usually to the Coptic Church because they speak Arabic and Egyptian people are very nice. They help us a lot.”
  2. Take advantage of educational opportunities. “Like I said, it’s a good thing that we are given many opportunities to study. Immigrants can take courses and trainings. They even have it online. This is a good thing because we can use this education to have a better career here.”
  3. You need to adapt. “Adapting is hard. It takes years and for me I’m still adapting. But we need to continue adapting and learning.”

Newcomer Story: Amandeep Kaur Sidhu

Amandeep KaurTwo days after school started, Amandeep’s daughter came home from school weeping. She said “Mom I don’t understand what they are saying. They are not playing with me. I’m not going back to school, I’m going back to my grandma!”

This experience was heartbreaking, not only for her six-year old but for Amandeep as well. This was her foremost concern when they arrived in Manitoba. “My greatest fear was for my children. I was worried that they will feel homesickness. They are very close to their grandparents. They used to live with them when we were in India. My two-year-old son always walked outside with his grandfather,” Amandeep said.

This is a problem many newcomer families face. But Amandeep’s experience also shows how resilient and adaptable children are. Today, barely five months from arriving in Manitoba, her daughter has adjusted well in her second grade class. Amandeep also credits the teachers for giving her child full support. “They are always encouraging my daughter by giving her toys and activities so that she can enjoy school,” she said.

Amandeep breathes a sigh of relief and now focuses on her own settlement journey. She has attended the four-week program at the Entry Program in November despite having issues with childcare. This is why she was so thankful to discover online learning with Live & Learn.

“Through this program I have learned things like the bus route, how to check the schedule, how to get the bus pass. I’m learning about stores also – where we can purchase things, how to get there… We get a lot of information about how we can protect ourselves and our kids when we are outside. I learned that when it is cold, we should cover the neck. Before, I didn’t know how important this was.”

Learning at home when the baby is asleep

Amandeep has been actively participating in the Coffee Chats and Drop-in Workshops since December. “I think it’s very good. If I didn’t learn about English Online, I would not be learning anything because I will be at home taking care of my two-year old son. And now I’m learning a lot every day even if I’m just here at home,” Amandeep said.

“Through this program I have learned things like the bus route, how to check the schedule, how to get the bus pass. I’m learning about stores also – where we can purchase things, how to get there. Another important thing is learning about the weather. We get a lot of information about how we can protect ourselves and our kids when we are outside. I learned that when it is cold, we should cover the neck. Before, I didn’t know how important this was,” Amandeep added. “Our e-Facilitators Amrita and Blaine help us learn a lot of practical things. Other students also ask questions. So we learn from them too.”

Her positive experience with Live & Learn has led her to recommend it to friends. “I have a friend who has been in Manitoba for four years. She had a baby shortly after arriving here. So she was a stay-at-home mom for a year and a half. I told her recently about these classes and now she has also joined. She said that if only she knew about English Online before, she would not have wasted a year and a half. We have another friend who is a firetruck mechanic. My husband told him about my classes online and now they (the friend and his wife) are asking me how to join,” Amandeep said.

Recently, Amandeep has also taken classes from an English Online e-Tutor who she meets every Tuesday and Friday. “I take these classes while my son is asleep and I can study. I have conversations with her and she helps me with my pronunciation. I’m also reading books and she told me I can ask her questions and tell her if I have problems,” Amandeep said.

Studying and other future plans

“I am thinking that when my child is a little bit bigger, I can study a course related to my field and then get a job here,” Amandeep said. She has an MSC degree and worked as a network technician for a school back in India. “I am also looking to get my mother a visitor visa so that she can come here for six months and help me with the kids. I would then be able to take a course,” she added.

But for now, Amandeep is learning more about Manitoba and improving her English before she explores her career options. What is important to her is using her time productively while at home. She is also looking forward to spring and summer when she and her kids can go outdoors and play. As it is, she is very careful about letting her kids run around indoors as the noise irritates their neighbours downstairs. This is another situation newcomer families with young kids need to be careful about when living in an apartment.

Tips for other newcomers:

  1. It is important to have a relative or friend in Manitoba. It would be good to have someone who can help you. When we arrived, I was nervous and afraid. I was not sure if anybody can help us or not. We had relatives here but they had to move to Brampton. It was good that I have a friend who offered to help us. She picked us up from the airport. She actually took a week off from work just to help us settle. Our friend helped us get important documents like our SIN, heath card and other documents that we needed. We also stayed with her for month before we found an apartment.
  2. Starting here is very hard. But don’t make it hard on yourself. Start slowly, learn when you can. Take it easy especially during winter.
  3. Take courses at English Online because it saves you time and you can learn while you are at home. Even after you get a job, you can still take classes here because they have classes in the morning and the topics are repeated in the evening so you can still join. All the information I get here is very beneficial for me and my family!

Newcomer Story: Irkan Nur

IrkanIrkan has been studying with English Online since July this year. She is Somali-born but was living in Kenya before moving to Canada. Irkan used to work as an article writer for a local radio station in Somalia (where she had also published two books) but left due to the instability and unrest. She fled to Nairobi in 2013 where she earned her diploma in Development Studies. After graduating, Irkan realized that the life that she was living in Kenya was not the one she wanted. However, she was not looking forward to going back to Somalia since the climate had not changed. Instead, she set her sights for Canada where her half-sister was living.

“We reached our home from the airport at 10 pm and still the sun was shining. I was surprised that people were calling it evening!”

First impressions of Canada

It was a dream come true for Irkan when she arrived in Winnipeg last May 2018. She was so thankful that she wrote: “I arrived at the Winnipeg airport at around 9:00 pm where my sister Nimo, my brother Mahad and refugee coordinator Gail were waiting for me. That evening was the greatest evening of my life!” Like any newcomer, she was eager to look around in her new home. She noted everything she saw on the trip on the way to their house. What actually surprised her were not the streets, buildings, or even the weather. “We reached our home from the airport at 10 pm and still the sun was shining. I was surprised that people were calling it evening!” Irkan said.

Help from settlement agencies

Irkan hit the ground running. A few days later, she signed up with Manitoba Start and attended programs and workshops with Entry Program. She also took the language benchmark test at WELARC (she scored CLB 6/5/6/5) and learned about the various orientation and language training programs she could avail for free. Ikran started applying for jobs and thought that it would only take her one to two months to start working. But when she started applying, she realized that jobs here are highly specialized. “For instance, if you worked in an IT role, there is no such thing as a general IT person here. It should be specific, such as computer programmer, network manager or software developer. There is no generalization in the workplace, you should have specific experience in a specific role.” This led to several unsuccessful applications. But despite this experience, Irkan appreciates that there are a lot of organizations that help newcomers figure out this process. “There’s Manitoba Start and there’s WELARC. They gave me a career coach and they sent me to EESE (Enhanced English Skills for Employment) for some free courses. And now I’m learning with Live and Learn. It’s amazing, I can see people are helping immigrants. It’s a wonderful thing” Irkan said.

“I’m always with Live and Learn. Sometimes I’m in the sessions and sometimes I’m just reading the articles. I’m always here, morning, lunch time, dinner,” she said. “I really like e-learning.”

Learning English and planning for a career in human rights

“A relative told me that I should just look for work. Never mind those programs, because it’s a waste of time,” Irkan shared. “But I think that life is more than getting a job. It’s also about the experience, it’s about getting an education. And you can get that here in Manitoba,” she added. So aside from learning with EESE, she signed up with an EAL e-tutor at Live and Learn to supplement her learning. She liked that her e-tutor Pamela asked her about her learning needs and priorities. “I had the four skills but she focused on my pronunciation and I really appreciate that. My pronunciation was so poor before and now I can confidently talk and talk,” Irkan said. After she was done with her 10 sessions with Pamela, she started joining the Coffee Chats with Amrita and Blaine. “I’m always with Live and Learn. Sometimes I’m in the sessions and sometimes I’m just reading the articles. I’m always here, morning, lunch time, dinner,” she said. “I really like e-learning. With Live and Learn, I also increase my vocabulary, I like that,” she said.

For now, Irkan is taking it easy and focusing on improving her English. She plans on applying for jobs again, but even then, she plans to work only part-time so that she has time to take up a course. She is interested in child development and developing a career in human rights. “I want to think about things that will benefit people. We are in a country that is respectful and welcoming to immigrants so we should give back and support it,” she said.

Tips for newcomers:

  1. I recommend that newcomers use settlement supports like Manitoba Start and WELARC. I learned good information from these agencies. Don’t just sit at home, waiting for a job, or asking relatives to give you a job.
  2. The weather is unimaginable! It’s truly a wonder. They will see and experience a lot of things. But they will love living in Manitoba.
  3. Some people stop learning when they get a job. They should make an effort to learn. Continue to learn the language and learn new things. We should also be innovative and helpful. This is how you will succeed in Canada.

Newcomer Story: Walter Galvarino

If you ask Walter why he and his family moved to Manitoba he will say that it’s for their children. During their exploratory trip to Winnipeg, he saw that his three kids would thrive in this city with its pleasant and open spaces, parks and good schools. Today, two years after they made the decision to move, Walter is finding that not only are his kids thriving, but himself and his wife as well.

Walter, his wife, kids, their dog and cat arrived in Manitoba in 2016 from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He remembers his initial encounter with the city’s climate. “When came out of the airport door, it felt so cold. It was two degrees then. After our first winter here, I can now say that two degrees is just like summer,” Walter said laughing.

Learning English

Aside from the weather, there were a lot of other things the family needed to get used to. He worried about how his kids would adapt to the culture and the language. He also worried about finding a doctor, buying a car or getting a job. He recalls a time in their first few months when they were trying to decide which milk to buy. “I saw that there are a lot of options here! There was 2%, 5%, 5.5% . . . so we tried each one and threw out what we didn’t like until we found the right one,” Walter said. “I realize that you start from zero here. Not only in finding a job or learning English, but in everything, like food, culture, friends,” he added.

He quickly realized that that not knowing enough English was a challenge when he actually lived here, rather than just visiting. “When I arrived in Winnipeg, I could only say “hello”. It was so hard for me because I love to talk. I love knowing people. The only way I could talk was through my wife. That part was very hard,” Walter said.

“Studying with EO was perfect for me because I could study in the evening, in my home, in my couch, without shoes. I am in the basement and I could hear my children in the kitchen.”

He started studying English at MITT but later on, he saw that he needed to spend more time with his family. A friend told him about English Online and he decided to register. He emailed English Online’s volunteer coordinator Tatiana Nedelko and asked to be paired with an ESL e-tutor. He was first paired with Michael from Vancouver, and then later with Mary from Toronto, an arrangement that Walter liked. “I think is important to have different tutors from different cities. This way I hear and learn different accents,” Walter said.

“Studying with EO was perfect for me because I could study in the evening, in my home, in my couch, without shoes. I am in the basement and I could hear my children in the kitchen” he added. He also likes the fact that EO has so many volunteers from all over Canada who could teach at different levels. He now shares this positive experience with every newcomer that he meets so that they could benefit from learning from English Online as well.

Take little steps every day. Never stop

Walter worked as a project manager back in his home country. He was a quality services and procedures supervisor and was in the process of earning a counsellor diploma before he left Argentina. Today, Walter works at a flower company that imports from Ecuador and sells to cities all over Canada. On the day of our interview, Walter nearly begged off because he needed to take over his boss who had to leave for Europe. It’s evident that he loves his work. He is grateful that he gets to communicate daily with a lot people in his job because he can continually hone his English skills.

One thing that Walter advises to newcomers is to take advantage of job opportunities however small. He sees that it’s a great opportunity to learn Canadian work culture and English skills. He himself took a job in housekeeping at Delta Hotel and found that the close contact with the customers and other workers helped him improve his language and people skills. “I know it’s hard. You will not always feel happy. But as I always say, take it one step a day. Today, you work in housekeeping, but it is a step so that tomorrow you may get a better job. You never know,” Walter said. “My wife is a psychologist. She studied for a lot of years in Argentina and has lot of experience. When she got here, she worked in a call centre. And now, she has found a perfect job as a counsellor. She is very happy with her job,” he added.

Walter and his wife are already planning their next small steps in the following months. He will take his IELTS test in December and perhaps finish his Counsellor diploma. He is also looking to volunteer with English Online to add to his current volunteer job with the Argentina Manitoba Association helping new families who want to apply to immigrate to Manitoba. His wife on the other hand is preparing to start school to earn her Master’s Degree.

“I know it’s hard. You will not always feel happy. But as I always say, take it one step a day.”

Walter’s other tips:

  1. Never stop learning. Use all the resources the province is offering. There are a lot of programs you can get for free and there are institutes all over Manitoba. You can even study by yourself in your home.
  2. Take your time. It is not mandatory that you have a house and everything on your first year. If you feel pressure, you will lose your focus. Take little steps every day. In this country, everything is possible. You can work, study, you can aspire for anything that you want.
  3. It’s more comfortable to speak with people from your own culture. But I know from experience that if I speak only with Argentinians, my English will never improve. So I always talk to other people. I speak to my neighbours. And then I say, oh no, they speak very fast! But I try and practise. Maybe talk to people on the bus, or go by yourself to see the doctor.
  4. Open your mind and think that you could do it. Be true to yourself. Don’t feel afraid. Don’t feel ashamed. If you make a mistake, just say sorry. Or ask if you don’t understand. There are so many immigrants in Winnipeg. People are used to someone trying to learn English.

Finally, Walter shares this with other newcomers: “Winnipeg is special to families. So take things one step a day, make short term goals. Listen to all stories, not only the success stories, but stay positive. Always think about the future, always saying “I can do this” and work hard to reach your dreams.”

E-Volunteer Story: Samir Hammad – Taking every opportunity to give back

Samir Hammad was a young man when he went to Turkey for a holiday. He was on his own and excited for his 10-day spree. But as soon as he got there, a thief stole all of his money. Stuck as a tourist with no one to turn to, Samir felt lost in a foreign land. When the family who owned the hotel learned about his predicament, they offered to return Samir’s payment for his entire stay. They told him that he can send the payment later after he gets home. This act of trust and generosity made such an impact on Samir that he resolved that from then on, every time that he is presented with a chance to give back, he will do so. And this is what Samir has been doing to this day. This is the spirit that powers the amazing volunteer work he has been doing for newcomers to Canada.

Giving is in his blood

Helping others is actually in Samir’s blood. His grandfather served as a mayor of a city in their home country in 1948. It was his legacy to his family of educated professionals, engineers and physicians to serve and give to whomever was in need. Today, many new Canadians owe Samir a debt of gratitude for his tireless service.

As one of English Online’s most active e-volunteers for five years now, he dedicates 3-5 hours every week to teach English to new Manitobans. Knowing that English proficiency is essential to a successful integration, Samir sees to it that he is responsive and accommodating to his students. His unique style of mentorship focuses on results, prioritizing on each learner’s most immediate goals. But aside from EO learners, Samir also takes on several students who are still in their home countries, sometimes teaching 2-3 learners during the weekends. He helps them prepare for life in Canada and to become proficient in English so that they’ll have a better chance of succeeding when they arrive. He does not limit extending his help to others – whether Arab, Jew, or whatever ethnic background or religion they belong to. He does all this for free.

When Samir started getting questions beyond learning the English language from immigrants, he began thinking of expanding his range and reach. Going on social media was the logical choice because this is where most immigrants are connecting and asking questions nowadays. Samir launched The Arab Immigrants Facebook Page, FB group and a YouTube channel where he posts useful articles, news and links; answers questions; and produces videos featuring anything from overcoming culture shock to the qualifications recognition process. Just recently, he produced a series of interviews featuring successful newcomer entrepreneurs in Manitoba to share their formula for success. He also interviewed professionals who have undergone qualifications recognition to provide information and inspiration to newcomers who are about to go through the same path. In just a month’s time, The Arab Immigrants has gained about 2,300 members and is growing each day.

“Canada is a wonderful country. It is truly a land of opportunity. I am happy to see that my children are thriving and learning to take charge and become leaders. So I want to see other people realize their goal to have a better life too. I consider it a privilege to be able to help out in any way I can and see more newcomers succeed in Canada.”

His newcomer journey

Samir came to Manitoba in 2009. Just like any other immigrant, his own journey had its own share of challenges. However, many serendipitous events made it clear to him that moving to Canada was meant to happen. Initially, as a successful engineer based in Dubai, immigrating was not something he was planning on.

At that time, Samir was at the top of his career with 30 years of experience as an electronics and communications engineer under his belt. His last job title in the UAE was Network and Operations Engineer at SamaCom Teleport Dubai, the largest teleport in the Middle East. He was also Technical Editor for a satellite and electronics magazine for more than 10 years. The only hitch was that, at that time, there were no opportunities for him and his family to become permanent residents, much less citizens in Dubai. As luck would have it, Samir met a Pakistani businessman who told him all about Canada. This started his research about immigrating and eventually, his application for a visa to Canada.

Samir and his family were actually planning on living in Toronto when one of his relatives received a scholarship in Manitoba. Curious, he visited Manitoba and immediately liked the province’s vibe. “The lifestyle in Winnipeg is not rushed. It has a good pace. Everything is accessible especially for someone who hates driving. You can reach any place in an hour and a half or less,” Samir said. So he returned to Dubai and together with his family, came back and settled in Manitoba.

Samir brought his expertise to MB Hydro International where he became a project consultant for four and a half years. Recently, with the downsizing at MB Hydro, Samir has taken a vacation (not really retiring, even when he’s in his 60s) and is now spending more time on his volunteer work.

Working with newcomers

Before working with MB Hydro, Samir had to go through the qualifications recognition process in order to practice his profession despite having decades of professional expertise. “Like other newcomers, I thought that once I had the visa, I can come to Canada and immediately work in my field. But I was surprised,” Samir said. This is why qualifications recognition is among the topics he focuses on in his social media channels today. He is also the current vice president of the Arab Engineers Chapter which is part of EGM, (Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba, the regulating body of the profession in MB), which aims to assist engineer newcomers. The group was formed last year and has been spearheading various activities and social work. “I would like to note that our chapter is open to everyone, not only Arabs. They can join us as long as they are not a member of other chapters,” Samir said.

According to Samir, the most common problem prospective immigrants and newcomers have is knowing where to look for information. He says that many are not familiar with the right website to go to and decipher which ones are reliable (like government websites). And when they do get website links, they need help in understanding the information. This points to the need for more accessible information as well as the importance of having a guide.

Aside from this, Samir advises newcomers to improve their English before coming here. According to him, newcomers should strive to reach an IELTS score of at least 7. “This will help you immensely when looking for career and educational opportunities. If you need to go back to school for advancement or licensing, most educational institutions in Manitoba will accept you if you have a score of 7 and up,” Samir said. He also advises newcomers to avail of government programs. “When you land in Manitoba, join newcomer programs to help you in your settlement and career. There are free programs that can really help you get settled and get a job. You should also join English language programs to continually improve your English,” Samir said. “I myself joined the local Toast Masters Club to learn public speaking”, he added.

Happy to help

Samir has already earned the right to take life easy and enjoy Canada’s sights and sounds. His children are well on their way to becoming successes on their own and as early as now, they are following Samir’s example of service. But Samir doesn’t seem to be slowing down as he continues to volunteer, create more helpful content on his social media channels, and explore ways to be of service to others.

“Canada is a wonderful country. It is truly a land of opportunity. I am happy to see that my children are thriving and learning to take charge and become leaders. So I want to see other people realize their goal to have a better life too. I consider it a privilege to be able to help out in any way I can and see more newcomers succeed in Canada,” Samir said.

Check out Samir’s informative videos here: The Arab Immigrants YouTube Channel
Join his Facebook Group to learn tips about settling in Manitoba: The Arab Immigrants.
To know more about the EGM Arab Engineers Chapter, email egm.arab.chapter@gmail.com or see their Facebook page.

Newcomer Story: Prabaharan Balasubramanian

Praba’s family immigrated to Thompson in 2014. Read how his positive mindset played a big role in his smooth settlement and getting employed within the first month of his arrival in Manitoba. Be inspired by his commitment to lifelong learning as it continues to propel him closer to his dream career.

Praba is brimming with positivity. I met him over Skype but one could feel the warmth and enthusiasm through the screen. I thanked him profusely for speaking to us on a Tuesday morning. You have to understand, many of our clients choose to learn online precisely because of their tight schedules. Praba is no exception. What was exceptional though was his willingness to share his story so that he could inspire other Manitoban newcomers.

From South India to Winnipeg (via Thompson)

Initially, Praba was not interested when a close friend offered to sponsor his family to come to Manitoba. He thought that he was already at a higher level in his career and didn’t really look forward to starting over. However, when he talked to his wife, she was all for it. The family discussed the possibility and eventually applied through MPNP. Their application went smoothly and in about a year’s time, the couple and their two children were bound for Thompson.

They landed in Thompson in 2014 and found the small town welcoming. Praba liked that there were a lot of Indian families there and in a small town, everybody knew each other. What was lacking, however, were social and educational opportunities for his kids. This led to him to set his sights on a bigger city. He started researching about Winnipeg and found some contacts there. In 2015, they eventually moved to Winnipeg.

Discovering settlement assistance and career opportunities

Praba connected with Manitoba Start immediately after moving. He was referred to the Entry Program, a settlement orientation program which he attended for four weeks. “Entry Program taught me so many things I needed to learn not only about Manitoba, but about Canada as a whole. I have attended pre-arrival seminars before we left but Entry Program provided more complete information,” Praba said.

Meanwhile, with the help of Manitoba Start, Praba learned how to craft a Canadian-style resume and cover letter. The Electrical and Electronics Engineering graduate had worked as a sales and marketing manager in his home country but when he saw a want ad for sales and marketing representatives from Shaw Communications, he didn’t hesitate to apply. His career counsellor registered him and coached him through the application process. In the same month, Praba got the job and started right away.

“I am truly thankful to Manitoba Start for their help. They really guide you and coach you from the time you create your resume until you get a job. In fact, they also helped my wife. She is now back in banking, working for Cambrian Credit Union. My wife is now the most motivated person in my family,” Praba said with a smile.

“I am a firm believer in the MPNP program. They give you all the tools to succeed. They hold your hand to guide you through the steps to fully adapt and integrate,” he added.

“When Praba joined English Online his CLB listening skill was 6, speaking at 8, reading at 7 and writing at 5. After a year, his CLB level moved  to 7 in most areas. Now he is working to reach level 8 so that he could start on his path towards earning his Engineering licence.”

99% attendance

Praba has impeccable English speaking skills. This is made more impressive based on the fact that back in his home country, they only spoke Tamil. He said he learned English by watching TV and movies. And now he is continuing to hone his English in preparation for his Engineering licensure. Because of his tight schedule at Shaw, he chose to enroll in LINC Home Study (LHS) with English Online. LHS is a language training program available to ESL learners who cannot attend a face-to-face class in Manitoba. Learners use both the EO and LHS platforms to practise language skills. Students receive a CLB certificate upon completion of the course.

“Learning with English Online has been great. First of all, it’s at zero cost and instruction is delivered to you at home via online means. If you ask my e-facilitator Yuliana, she’ll say that my attendance has been 99%! What I like about learning English with her is that I don’t only learn the basics, like spelling and grammar, but the hidden aspects of language as well, for example using the proper tone of voice, and writing in short sentences,” Praba said.

“Learning with LINC Home Study is enriched because of the available resources on livelearn.ca website. It provides information for every aspect of settlement and integration that newcomers need. It does not only teach you about English, it tells you how to live your life well, how to manage your family. Everything is there. All you need is to do is read and learn,” Praba added.

When Praba joined English Online his CLB listening skill was 6, speaking at 8, reading at 7 and writing at 5. After a year, his CLB level moved to 7 in most areas. Now he is working to reach level 8 so that he could start on his path towards earning his Engineering licence. He is optimistic that after his licensure journey, he’ll be able to get his dream job and become a practicing Engineer. With Praba’s commitment and positive attitude, we have no doubt that he’ll realize these goals.

“I meet many newcomers who are content with their English. After they get their first job, they settle in. They don’t know that having less English skills make them underemployed. Continuously improving your English leads to better career opportunities. It will lead you to have a better life in Manitoba.”

Great, great tips

Praba’s tips to newcomers:

  1. In life, many people will tell you that to be successful you have to be somebody else. But when I got here, they told me to be myself. That’s important. Just be yourself and everything will work out fine.
  2. When looking for a job, don’t think about levels. The important thing is to get your foot in the door. I started as a sales and marketing representative at Shaw and now I have moved on to Technical Support. This is getting closer to the technical side of things which is my line. I am enjoying my job because I am learning new things every day. Open your mind to possibilities.
  3. Networking is important. Get to know people. The hidden job market will open up to you.
  4. Just as our bodies and brains grow new cells every day, we should always keep growing and learning. For example, I meet many newcomers who are content with their English. After they get their first job, they settle in. They don’t know that having less English skills make them underemployed. Continuously improving your English leads to better career opportunities. It will lead you to have a better life in Manitoba. So keep on learning.
  5. Hang on and don’t lose hope. Just keep on persevering.