Getting to Canada as an immigrant or refugee is the first part of a journey, but it can take a lot more work to set up a life here. Programs like the Global Welcome Centre (GWC), which is located on campus but also serves the greater community in Winnipeg, are here to help.
People who use the resources and supports offered by the GWC come from all walks of life, according to Miranda Santolini, program co-ordinator for the GWC.
“They may be internationally educated professionals who need communication training, they might be professionals who are upgrading or transferring credit to institutions here, and need additional support services and guidance,” Santolini says. “And they may also be individuals who are doing post-secondary for the first time, and need support transitioning into post-secondary.”
The GWC offers programs specifically to permanent residents of Canada, but they often partner with other agencies as well. On Sept. 12, they’re bringing in a speaker from SEED Winnipeg for a workshop about their financial programs. SEED (which stands for Supporting Employment and Economic Development) offers a savings matching program, as well as support in starting and maintaining small businesses.
Laurel Daman, who will be running the Sept. 12 workshop, says there are many barriers that permanent residents could face while getting established in Winnipeg. They may have little support before they get here or right after they arrive, and face challenges finding housing or negotiating language barriers. Financially, permanent residents may not yet have an established credit or employment history, which is where SEED can help.
“I usually tailor my talk to match the audience,” Daman says. On Sept. 12 she plans on discussing their Business Development Program and their Saving Circle. Through the Saving Circle, people who are living on a low income can make a plan to save towards something that will improve their life. SEED will match every dollar they save three to one.
While the upcoming workshop will be focused on resources for permanent residents, SEED’s programs can be accessed by others as well.
“At SEED, we do not differentiate between newcomers that have become Canadian citizens or permanent residents, so all our programs with the exception of Recognition Counts are accessible to newcomers or mainstream Canadians in the same manner,” Daman says.
GWC will be offering another workshop in collaboration with Youth Employment Services on Sept. 15, which will focus on interview skills.
“All those organizations do work with all sectors of people facing income barriers or employment barriers, or barriers to education,” Santolini says.
These issues aren’t limited to the permanent resident community and exist on and off campus.
“We do have permanent residents that are part of the general public who may not be registered students with us, that do come and attend and register into those programs,” Santolini says.
For the GWC workshops, however, participants need to be permanent residents, and can either register in advance or bring their permanent resident card to the workshop.
Visit uwinnipeg.ca/gwc for more about the Global Welcome Centre. Go to seedwinnipeg.ca for SEED Winnipeg’s programs. The GWC and SEED information session on Sept. 12 will be held in 2C13 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., and you can RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.