If you’re new to Canada, we cannot stress enough the importance of doing your due diligence to access settlement resources. These resources can help you with the settlement process, so you don’t bear the burden of it all on your own. You can be set on the path to success by accessing the right resources. While there are many resources available to help newcomers to Canada, there will be barriers along the way: waitlists for programs, waiting for credential evaluation, or lack of Canadian work experience to name a few. The more you can prepare yourself for this reality, the better off you will be.
1. Find a Settlement Agency
Throughout British Columbia, there are various Settlement Agencies. These agencies offer settlement services for individuals, families, and all types of newcomers. Many settlement agencies offer group programs as well as one-on-one support. Language support is often available through your settlement agency, so be sure to ask! They can help you understand how to look for work in Canada, how to make new friends, help you register for language classes, and generally answer most of your settlement questions.
2. Get a Library Card
Libraries have programs and events that help immigrants settle and connect with their community as well as each other. These public libraries offer conversation practice groups, activities for babies and children, help with career planning and job search, book clubs, citizenship test preparation, and much more. Settlement agencies and libraries often work together to maximize knowledge for newcomers to BC.
Libraries in BC also have collections of materials in many languages. Books, music, newspapers, and online resources are available in more than 66 different languages! Each library responds to the demographics of their community and so have materials that reflect their populations. You can ask for materials to be sent from another library to your home library if your home library does not have them. This is called an Interlibrary Loan. You can find out more about Interlibrary Loans by asking staff at your home library or reading about these loans on the website of your home library.
We have created information about libraries in BC to help newcomers. This one-page description of BC libraries has been translated into 26 different languages.
3. Visit the Skilled Immigrant InfoCentre
The Skilled Immigrant InfoCentre (SIIC) is operated through the Vancouver Public Library and is accessible to newcomers of all immigration statuses in British Columbia. The SIIC helps immigrants understand:
- job search strategies
- career exploration
- the local labour market
- the role of industry associations
- credential evaluation
SIIC’s friendly and knowledgeable staff offer free workshops and events which cover topics like accessing the hidden job market, starting a business, and exploring other careers. Additionally, they provide in-depth one-to-one help for newcomers who are exploring careers, looking for a job or starting a business. SIIC will answer all sorts of questions and refer users to other services, agencies, professional associations, and organizations as needed. All services are free.
4. Access Free English Language Learning Materials
Libraries in BC have many books, videos, and online tools to help immigrants learn and improve their English. You can search for materials by language level, by language skill (speaking, listening, reading, and writing), and by the type of material you are looking for.
Once you have found what you are looking for, you can search your home library or go online to see what library holds the material. Remember, if your home library does not have it, you can ask for materials to be sent from another library to your home library through an Interlibrary Loan.
5. Read Through Our List of Useful Settlement Guides and Websites
We know finding the right information can be hard. We have taken the guesswork out of this by compiling 45+ guides, videos and websites with current and comprehensive information that covers a range of topics important to immigrant settlement and integration. This list includes information ranging from pre-arrival services to legal information in BC, education to healthcare, and Newcomer LGBTQ2S+ to learning about BC’s First Nations and Indigenous Peoples, the sites listed are credible, reliable, and informative. We encourage you to review the information listed to help you get started on your own settlement journey.
As always, if you have questions, please ask. Our Librarians are a wealth of knowledge and can help direct you. Our settlement agencies work hard to help newcomers adapt to their life in Canada. And the above list of resources will be a good place to start. Welcome. Good luck.