Humber College joined the annual Newcomer Day at Nathan Phillips Square to support newcomers to Canada and provide free educational services.
Christopher Imecs, the project coordinator for the IT Infrastructure Bridging Program for newcomers at Humber College, said the school sets up a booth at the Newcomer Toronto event every year offering educational opportunities to newcomers.
“Career pathways, education, but more finding out about their needs and what they are looking for, and let’s see how we can help them with Humber; if not, we refer them to other organizations,” he said.
“For newcomers, we have the language training program, the bridging program, which is about employment with a very high success rate, technical skills training, workplace culture and helping them find employment,” Imecs said.
Humber offers bridge training programs starting in September for Engineers, Architects, and I.T Professionals, who are newcomers or recent immigrants to Canada.
Peta-Gaye Nash, project coordinator for Occupation-Specific Language Training at Humber, said the college offers a plethora of English as a Second Language (ESL) courses, some for academic English and others for conversational English.
“I do occupational-specific language training. So we have so many language training courses here to help newcomers,” she said.
“Our department is very community-oriented, so we’re in community outreach and workforce development, and there is educational advising and employment advising,” Nash said.
Every May, Nathan Phillips Square hosts Newcomer Day to welcome immigrants to Toronto, assist them in understanding and accessing a variety of services and recognize their contributions to the community.
Many organizations participate in an information fair promoting newcomers’ knowledge of programs available to them.
Mitra Mohseni, a service navigator at Strides Toronto, said their agency provides mental health services for families and their children from birth to age 29.
“The main goal is helping them with work and providing services and resources to improve their mental health and well-being. Most of the services are 100 per cent free,” she said.
“They are not asking for the status, they are not asking for the health card or any ID,” Mohseni said. “And the information is 100 per cent confidential. If you need to talk with someone and you don’t feel comfortable sharing your feelings with family members, we are here to support you.”
Anna Jasinska, Fund and Community Relationship Specialist at the Toronto Centre of Learning and Development, said they offer free training and educational programs.
“We’ve been at Newcomer Day for a few years now, and it’s just a great way to kind of connect, network, and learn about all the resources because there are a lot of them available.” she said. “They’re free, and everyone is here and willing to help all the newcomers in any way that they need.”
Jasinska said they have academic upgrading programs for people who want to upgrade their communications and digital technology skills, including a section specifically about digital technology that people can take on their own.
“We also have a six-month immigrant women’s integration program that includes mentorship, placement, and certificate courses for immigrant women who are interested in boosting their independence, working in the social service sector, or volunteering,” she said.
Statista reported 159,679 immigrants settled in Toronto in 2022 and all of them need support, information and community.
Svitlana Zhuhan, a newcomer from Ukraine, and she couldn’t visit the Newcomer Day because she has a newborn baby, so she had to find all the information alone.
“I searched for everything myself through Telegram channels and Facebook groups, did everything myself, filled out the visa application myself, called myself, wrote myself through a realtor and looked for an apartment in Toronto while we were still in Poland,” she said in the interview conducted in Ukrainian.
Zhuhan said that there is enough information online, but people need to spend time finding it.
“When we arrived at the airport, we were met by the Red Cross, and they gave us information, phone numbers and addresses of different organizations,” she said.
“Such events like Newcomer Day are needed in order to somehow establish contacts and thus look for a job in Canada because, even in our experience, it turned out that it is quite difficult to do.”