Q&A with Don Boddy, Settlement Services Coordinator:
Portage la Prairie Newcomers’Welcome Centre
October 20, 2016
English Online (EO): Does Portage la Prairie have a large newcomer population?
Don Boddy (DB): You can say that we have a large newcomer population in the city. Newcomers make up about 8 to 9 per cent of the total population (based on the number you mentioned below). Our top immigrants are Filipino, Indian and German. Many come to Portage la Prairie to work in a variety of jobs in our thriving industries here. Right now, we are anticipating the arrival of two Syrian refugee families in Portage la Prairie. We are making the necessary arrangements to welcome them and help them settle in the province.
EO: Do you project a steady increase in the newcomer population in the coming years?
DB: Yes, I can see it rising with the continued family reunification efforts underway. People come to Portage la Prairie to work and once they get established, they petition for their spouses and children back home. We help them out in this process. Even prior to the application, we assist them in various ways, like in improving their English language skills. Gaining proficiency will make it easier for them to successfully apply and petition for their families to come to Canada.
EO: Who are eligible to receive settlement services?
DB: We assist Permanent Residents and Refugees.
EO: Do you have other service offerings that are not listed on your website or new and upcoming projects?
DB: We do our best to be client-centered and responsive to the needs of our newcomers. In addition to those listed on the website, we prioritize on providing other services if we see a need. We are constantly working on various activities and events for community integration. You can see many of our current activities on our Facebook page.
EO: Do you have any other message for incoming immigrants (pre-arrivals) and newcomers looking to move to Portage la Prairie?
DB: I want them to know that Portage la Prairie is a welcoming and inclusive community. We have a wonderful environment and our city is full of wonderful opportunities for families to grow and thrive. We don’t have public transportation in Portage la Prairie, but they will find that it’s manageable once they get here. I do advise those about to come to be prepared for the weather. They would need to be prepared for winter especially in the coming months.
About Portage la Prairie:
Portage la Prairie is part of Manitoba’s Central Plains Region and is located 70 km west of Winnipeg. It has a population of about 13,000 (2011 census). The city is considered as an important regional service centre for the surrounding Portage Plains.
The region’s main industries are agriculture and related processing services. It is known as the world’s strawberry capital and the North American potato processing capital. Many flock to its u-pick strawberry and Saskatoon berry farms in summer. Aside from berries, Portage la Prairie’s food processing industry handles the district’s traditional grain and field crops as well as a diverse line of food products.
Portage la Prairie is also considered a major transportation centre due its location. The Trans-Canada Highway runs past the city and it is one of the few places in Canada where two railways (Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railways) meet. This has attracted many tourists, visitors, as well as businesses.
The city has numerous attractions, ranging from historic buildings, art galleries, and sports and recreational facilities. Events abound, especially in the summer months (July-September) like Portage Ex (one of Western Canada’s oldest running fairs), Portage Potato Fest, Concerts in the Park, Farmer’s Markets, and many others.
Portage la Prairie Newcomers’ Welcome Centre:
- Employment assistance services
- Master/target resume development
- Cover letter assistance
- Career coaching/employment counseling
- Employable skills identification
- Job search assistance – tips on accessing the hidden job market, networking
- Support with preparing for interviews, including mock interviews
- Help with filling out online applications or with emailing applications
- Facilitation of workshops covering all areas listed above
- Portage Work Experience Program
- 12-week youth employment program (ages 15-30 years old)
- It is a paid employment skills training opportunity
- Money Management Training
- Community Economic Development
- Building Assets
- Setting Goals and Solving Problems
- Money Choices
- Gathering Information
- Basics of Banking
- Introduction to Credit
- Managing Credit and Debt
- Savings and Investments
- Power Up
- 15 hour introductory computer course for women
- Includes word processing, sending and receiving email, using the internet
Contact persons: Cathy Dowd
Email: email@example.com; phone: 204-857-6304 ext. 229
Miriam Turyamwijuka, Program Assistant
Phone: 204-857-6304 ext. 268
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