PEI Community Navigators assist newcomers from other countries and Canadian provinces, advocating for inclusive and welcoming communities and assisting with challenges newcomers face in rural communities by providing settlement services.
This Island-wide organization, in collaboration with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the provincial Office of Immigration, also provides in-person and virtual sessions to employers about the different immigration streams available to recruit international workers.
PEI Community Navigators hosted a panel discussion about hiring and retaining immigrant employees in rural PEI during Small Business Week in October.
The event was facilitated by Lindee Gallant, Eastern PEI Community Navigator. The panelists, who are all immigrants to PEI, included Eamon Dooley of Ireland, Geraldine Pagbilao of the Philippines, Nisha Varghese of India, and Jasmine Huang of China.
When prompted to share their job search experiences, the panelists voiced frustrations and concerns because their credentials, knowledge, and skill sets are not recognized when applying for positions on PEI. They talked about being unaware of community resources and social programs that assist with job searching and being unprepared for cold and stormy Canadian winters.
“If you are hiring a newcomer, help them through the process of transitioning to the community,” says Lindee. “It takes a community for immigrants to navigate through the system because they lack knowledge about weather conditions, childcare services, and job searching methods.
“When employers write a job description, they should think about what skills they are looking for that could be transferrable. Many immigrants who are qualified and experienced work in jobs they are overqualified for. Employers need to take advantage of the skill sets of immigrants, which will help their business.”
Geraldine arrived on PEI in 2021 through the Atlantic Immigration Program, which is a pathway for skilled foreign workers to immigrate to Canada. She is now working with an after-school program in eastern PEI.
“PEI is very peaceful, has a low crime rate, and is where we want to raise a family.
“Before arrival I used the job search sites but did not understand the application process very well. So, I went to YouTube and connected with other Filipinos to ask about the process of employment searching on PEI and to learn about their experiences.
“We struggle with transportation, housing, and childcare, and were not prepared for winter weather.”
Nisha arrived on PEI in 2016 and is a Registered Nurse at Dr. John M. Gillis Memorial Lodge. She lives with her husband and three children in Stratford.
“It took two years of struggling with the immigration application process before my husband and children could join me in Canada. It was a very isolated and lonely time without my family.
“It took almost five years to meet the eligibility to become a Registered Nurse here because my nursing credentials were not recognized in Canada.
“We have no family support on PEI so it was a great challenge for my husband and I to take care of the children and work. We work at the same place so the employer arranged our work schedules so one of us could be home with the children.
“We immigrants have strong work ethics. We want to work long hours so we can sponsor our families to come to Canada and to build a good future for our children. We believe Canada is better place for us.”
Jasmine arrived in July of 2021 and loves living on PEI. “My purpose is to start a business and a new life. I still had my job as a regional digital marketing manager for a company in China when I arrived on PEI. I continue to work remotely for the global company.
“I don’t want to give up my work experience and knowledge. I want to continue with a marketing career. I am told I must take marketing jobs below my expertise because employers don’t recognize my credentials. I have 13 years in marketing but there was little availability for a position with my skill sets.”
She decided to open a marketing business and received direction and advice from service providers including The Employment Journey publication.
“I also struggled with getting used to extreme cold weather. I lacked knowledge about winter weather. I didn’t know there was a service for snow removal. It was hard to deal with homesickness because of isolation and not knowing people on PEI.”
Jasmine has closed her storefront business and remains on the hunt for a full-time job or self-employment.
Eamon was working for a company in Bermuda that was opening a head office In Toronto, Ontario. “I got a work visa to work in Toronto in 2011. My wife is Canadian, and the goal was always to move to PEI and start a family.
“I continued working with the company from home until 2021, and it was a struggle dealing with the isolation. I am now employed with SkillsPEI in Montague.”
When searching for employment, Eamon used online job posting sites and then reached out to local service providers such as CDS, SkillsPEI, and PEI Community Navigators.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Lindee Gallant, Eastern PEI Community Navigator
902-969-5989 – Lindee.Gallant@cbdc.ca
Scott Smith, Western PEI Community Navigator
902-853-3636 – Scott.Smith@cbdc.ca
Peggy Miles, Central PEI Community Navigator
902-598-7560 – Peggy.Miles@cbdc.ca
Maxine Rennie, Project Lead, Executive Director of CBDC
902-853-3636 – Maxine.Rennie@cbdc.ca