by Heidi Riley
IRSA is a non-profit organization that started in 1993. The staff of 53 works with newcomers to Canada and has a need for volunteers to support their programs.
The EAL Volunteer Tutor program involves tutoring newcomers in English. “Our biggest number of volunteer opportunities are with this program,” says Sayaka Takizawa, Program Coordinator. “Volunteering with this program requires a commitment of two hours per week for six months.”
Volunteers must undergo a criminal record check, sign a confidentiality agreement, and take tutor training, which can be done online or in person. Training for volunteers includes three in-person sessions followed by a group tutor match meeting.
The Canada Connects program is based on friendship activities such as going on a hike or meeting for coffee. Volunteers commit to two to three hours per week for six months, and are matched with newcomers based on gender, age, and interests, and could include single people, couples, or entire families.
“Currently, we have a real need for young male volunteers to be matched with young male immigrants,” says Suna Houghton, Volunteer Coordinator.
“Volunteers need a criminal record check, and those working with a family also need a vulnerable sector check at no cost to them.”
Cultural Inclusion Training program is for volunteers who are Newcomers. They learn how to design and develop a 60-minute presentation about their country and culture. Presentations are scheduled across PEI with different community groups.
The program helps newcomers develop presentation skills and take advantage of networking opportunities with various groups. “Countries we would need most as subjects of presentations include the Philippines and Mexico, but other countries may be needed too.”
Short-term events needing volunteers
The DiverseCity Festival is held from the end of June to July in Charlottetown, Summerside, and Montague, and is a showcase for new immigrants to share their food, dance, and other cultural activities. “We always need a lot of volunteers for that event. It is a great way to meet people from other cultures and to celebrate local PEI culture.”
Volunteers are also needed for women’s groups, men’s groups, and for the Fresh Air Fun program, where newcomers visit different places on PEI and get to know their new home.