My decision to move to BC was primarily because of the milder winter conditions and higher employment opportunities in BC for my husband’s trade. Also, we love the outdoors and there are so many things to see and do especially in the summer time!
When we moved to British Columbia, I found the Career Paths Program for Skilled Immigrants through Avia Employment Services. I feel so blessed to have found this organization, and my Career Counselor Miriam Mares, as she is the one who introduced me to the Library Champions Project. As a new immigrant, with no Canadian experience, finding an employment opportunity in BC was hard. The Library Champions Project (LCP) became an opportunity for me to gain my first Canadian “work experience” as a volunteer for the Fraser Valley Regional Library.
What I appreciated the most about the LCP is that beyond giving me the opportunity to gain Canadian work experience, it has provided me with a support system in dealing with the challenges of being a new immigrant. Coming to a new country, I didn’t realize how challenging it could be until we made the move. Listening to the stories and the experiences of other new immigrant volunteers made me realize that the challenges I was going through where normal phases of immigration. Further, LCP gave me a better understanding, respect and appreciation for different cultural backgrounds. LCP also allowed me to immerse in my local community.
While volunteering for the LCP, I reflected that the libraries I have gone to in my home country where only the ones I had in my school. Public Library resources can be a bit limited and this is why I really appreciate how much library services I am able to enjoy and access here in Canada. The services have helped me a lot especially with my daughter who has developed a love for books. We regularly visit the library and borrow books and I love how I can do a lot of things online such as renew or reserve items. I also enjoy all the community information resources which allows me to know what fun activities are going on in my local area. Needless to say, my favorites of the library are the children’s books and resources. I also enjoy the workshops and seminars organized by the library. And it’s all for free!
I wish I had known in advance how comprehensive the government services and supports are for new immigrants. It would have saved me time and effort if I knew which organizations could support me in my needs and straightaway was able to go to them for assistance. I have also come to appreciate the extent of government support and benefits. For instance, a maternity leave of 18 months with maternity benefits is amazing, as are child care benefits, free education and health care.
In my personal experience, the best advice I can give to future newcomers is to network. I realize how important it is to invest time in finding and building a positive network by going out there and meeting new people. There are many benefits to doing this but the top two for me would be that you get less homesick when you are meeting new people and you get easier access to helpful information for new immigrants. I learned from others who have “been there and done that”. Networking led me to Avia Work BC, the LCP project and eventually my first job in Canada. My family also found a community through the local church, which has a lot of Filipino families. Also, I used to take my daughter to Strong Start where I have met Filipino moms and their kids.
I am currently working as an Office Coordinator for Back In Motion which is a part of Avia Employment Services (WorkBC). The role is to be the primary point of contact for activities related to facilities, purchasing, health and safety, new hire orientation, security and coordinates administration and other requests that impact the centre as a whole. My involvement in the Library Champions Project helped me prepare for this role in that I was able to practice my social and interpersonal skills in a multi-cultural environment.