This must be a busy time for you! But in the rush of getting your finances, clothes and other baggage ready, don’t forget to prepare the most important part of this journey – yourself.
The following activities will get you in the right frame of mind for moving to Canada. They will equip you with the necessary information to help you plan better and help you start acquiring the right skills ahead of your arrival:
Attend pre-departure orientation seminars
Orientation seminars provide general information about settling in Canada. These usually cover Canadian culture, employment, and getting the right settlement supports, among others. There are three Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)-funded programs:
- Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) – It is delivered by International Organization for Migration (IOM) and provided in over 40 locations. Eligible clients include Federal Skilled Workers (FSW), Provincial Nominees (PN), refugees, members of the Family Class (FC) and their spouses and working age dependents, and Live-in Caregivers (LC). COA will enhance your knowledge about Canada and the various supports available to you upon arrival.
- Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP) – CIIP is offered by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) in India, China, the Philippines and the United Kingdom. Eligible clients are FSWs and PNs and their spouses and working age dependents. CIIP helps economic immigrants prepare to meet foreign credential requirements and achieve labour market integration.
- Active Engagement and Integration Project – AEIP is delivered by S.U.C.C.E.S.S. in Seoul, South Korea and Taipei, Taiwan. Eligible clients include FSWs, FCs, PNs, business immigrants and their spouses and working age dependents, and LCs in Taiwan. AEIP supports the settlement, adaptation and integration of newcomers into the Canadian society and promote community and labour market integration.
Those in the final stages of immigration (those who have a medical notification letter, visa pick-up notification letter, or visa but have not yet landed in Canada) are usually sent an invitation letter and/or email inviting them to attend the orientation seminar. If you have not been invited but are eligible, go to their respective webpages or contact their regional offices to inquire.
Learn job-ready English
One of the most important skills that will help you succeed in Canada is your ability to communicate in English (or French, although English is more commonly used). You will need English to communicate in your everyday life. It is also essential for getting a job and staying in your job.
You should start improving your reading, listening, writing and speaking skills in English, either formally (through lessons) or by practicing daily before coming to Canada. Pre-arrivals are currently not eligible for English Online’s services but our Self-Study materials are open to everyone. Check out English Exercises, Canadian idioms and iEnglish resources to get started. Contact us as soon as you land in Manitoba and we’ll help you access more free learning options to help you improve your English and get settled.
Learn about living and working in Manitoba
Pre-departure seminars and online research provide general information about Canada. To know more province-specific information, you should:
- Read Live & Learn articles – This website has more than 500 articles on 12 settlement themes that are mostly Manitoba-specific. Learn about the standard of living in Manitoba, how to get essential documents like your health card or SIN, job search strategies, even tips on parenting, culture-related topics and more. Many articles have simple English versions as well as language quizzes so you can practice your vocabulary and comprehension.
- Sign up for SOPA – Settlement Online Pre-Arrival for Manitoba is an IRCC-funded program that provides personalized pre-employment guidance to help you become job-ready before you arrive in Manitoba. It is free and delivered online. To check your eligibility and register go to Entry Program or SOPA. You can also inquire by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Join online groups and forums – Members of online groups and forums ask questions, share answers, tips, opinions, advice, as well as helpful programs and resources. Since they are applicants or immigrants themselves, you can learn from their experiences. However, since the members are not experts, always verify answers and advice on technical or legal matters. Check the IRCC and Government of Canada websites for the latest official information. Groups to join:
- CanadaVisa Forum
- Life in Manitoba Facebook group
- Manitoba Immigrant Community (Facebook group)
- There are also Facebook groups for specific immigrant groups/nationalities. You can search for them on Facebook and ask permission to join (if it’s not an open group).
- Watch YouTube videos – New immigrants share their experiences and tips through vlogs on settlement issues like surviving winter, getting a job, making ends meet, etc. YouTubers can share good tips but since personal views and experiences vary, some may not be applicable to your situation. Use your discretion when taking their advice and compare with other views when possible.
Connect with your professional association
Find out the requirements to become certified or licensed if your profession is regulated (read 5 steps to credentials assessment and licensing to know if it is). This will help you prepare and plan your career better. Also, check if some of these requirements may be done or acquired while still in your home country. This will help lessen expenses and shorten the amount of time it will take for you to be licenced and ready to practice your profession in Canada.
Connect with SPOs
Settlement Provider Organizations (SPOs) are agencies that assist immigrants in various aspects of settlement. There are SPOs that concentrate on providing English language instruction, family services (like parenting, child-care, counselling, etc.), housing, or job/career orientation and placement. Many are funded by IRCC or by the province so their services are usually provided for free to immigrants (permanent residents and refugees).
As you plan for your first few days, start checking SPO websites to see which services you can avail (check their respective websites) upon arriving. You can even contact some of these agencies while you are still in your home country. For example, you can contact New Journey Housing to ask for help on housing options. They can connect you with legitimate agencies and landlords to help you arrange for accommodations before you land in Manitoba.
Sources: Evaluation of the Overseas Orientation initiatives, Government of Canada and Immigrate to Canada, Government of Canada.
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