Moving to a new country is not easy. Even if you did your research before coming here, you probably still have a lot of questions about your settlement. This is why newcomer serving agencies exist. They have staff who could answer your questions, refer to you to the right programs and resources, and generally help you have a smooth settlement in your new home.
What are newcomer serving organizations?
These are agencies that focus on newcomer needs. They are also called immigrant-serving organizations or settlement service agencies. They help you get settled by providing information, training, education, or connections. Some even help you access material or financial assistance to spur your growth and success.
Most newcomer agencies help all newcomers, meaning Permanent Residents (PRs), refugees, temporary foreign workers, international students, even Canadian citizens who present as newcomers. However, others serve only PRs and refugees (or only refugees). They can also focus on serving specific ethnocultural groups, age groups, or areas or communities. Agencies outline their eligibility requirements so you’ll know if you can sign up with them.
What can they help you with?
There are many types of newcomer serving organizations. Some focus on a specific needs like housing, language training or employment, and have programs that help newcomers get homes, learn English/French, or get a job. Others provide a wide array of services and programs that anticipate most newcomer needs. They can provide:
- Orientation – Newcomer orientation will help you get over culture shock in your new home. You will learn basic facts about Canada and Manitoba, ways to integrate into your new community, and other useful information to help you settle smoothly.
- Needs Assessment – Agencies can also determine what kind of services will be best for you. They can refer you to partner agencies and recommend programs that best fit your needs and goals.
- Career Coaching – Job search and application can be vastly different in Canada compared to what you’re used to. Career coaches can help you navigate the job market by teaching you everything from planning your career and creating your Canadian-style resume to acing your job interview.
- Employment services – Employment services range from job referrals to job preparation for those who already have been hired. They can provide trainings on workplace culture, communication, as well as industry-specific trainings.
- Language training – Language is an important element to your success. Agencies can provide formal or informal training on Canada’s official languages, English and French. These programs can be delivered in-person (classroom) or online, in a group or one-on-one.
- Others – Other services can range from family programs (child-care and parenting) to mental health and other supports.
How much do these services cost?
Most newcomer serving organizations are funded by the government (usually Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) so services are free to eligible clients. Meanwhile, other organizations such as charities, educational institutions, or social enterprises may provide settlement help too. They may be funded by foundations or other entities that allow them to offer services for free or at a low cost.
Can I trust them with my information?
They will ask for your full name, date of birth, and immigration number or immigration document when you register to government-funded newcomer programs. This is done for reporting purposes. Such data is also used for studies that create or help improve programs for newcomers. You will be assured that your information will be protected and will be shared only with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). If you want to know more about how your information is protected and used, read Gathering information to better meet the needs of newcomers to Canada from the Government of Canada site.
How can I find a newcomer-serving organization?
There are several ways:
- Register with Manitoba Start – They conduct initial needs assessment and referral. MB Start can also provide career coaching and job matching as well as employment preparation workshops.
- Use Manitoba 211 – Click on the Newcomers icon, write in your zip code, and check the services you need. You will be given a list of agencies, their contact numbers and their distance from your place. You can also speak to someone by dialing 211 or 1-855-275-1197 (toll-free).
- Consult the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) in your area – SWIS are usually housed in the schools nearest you. They provide information and orientation as well as referrals to other programs to help newcomer students and their families integrate in their community.
- See our list here: Immigrant-Serving Organizations
- Check MANSO – Learn more about each settlement agency and the services they offer by reading their profiles at the Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations (MANSO) website.
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