Introduction to PEI
The Office of Immigration is here to help connect people who want to live on PEI with the resources to help build a career and a life in PEI.
PEI and Federal guidelines for the Express Entry Program
For more information, click here.
Access the Global Workforce on Prince Edward Island
Immigrant & Refugee Services Association PEI (IRSA PEI) works closely with employers across PEI to help them find qualified applicants to meet their labour market needs. Many newcomers are looking for work and are supported by IRSA employment services. Visit www.irsapei.ca/en/employment-assistance-service-for-newcomers
Skilled immigrants possess talents and accreditation in a variety of professional fields. They are primarily between 25-44 years of age and 69% have a university degree or higher. Newcomers have international experience and are often multilingual. They can help Island businesses create innovative solutions to business challenges. Is it time to reflect PEI’s changing clientele and communities in your workforce?
If you would like to find out more about how experienced, qualified newcomers can help your business grow, call 902-628-6009 or email [email protected].
Newcomers finding work, going to post-secondary, and starting a business on PEI
An Island apple farmer bonds with a Syrian olive grower
From the moment Geoff Boyle and Wisam Abou Assali started talking, it was clear they had a connection that transcended their different backgrounds.
The Grove Orchard and U-Pick is an apple and berry farm in Warren Grove, PEI. It is owned and operated by Geoff. His son Matt is an investor who works there when he can. In March 2016, Geoff was looking for an employee through the Employ PEI program.
Wisam Abou Assali, his wife Dima Mreesh and their two sons arrived on PEI in January 2016 as refugees from Syria. They were sponsored by Saints Peter & Paul Orthodox Church in Charlottetown. Wisam and Geoff were introduced by Amy MacLean and Lisa Chaisson, who are members of the Employment Assistance Services team at the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada.
Within days, Geoff invited Wisam (pronounced WisAHM) to join him in Nova Scotia on a training course on grafting and orchard skills.
“I had a feeling that Wisam was the person I was looking for,” says Geoff. “I brought him with me to take the training, but I was really trying to see if we could work together. It isn’t a big farm and I only need one employee. But we would have to spend every day working together. After two days of courses, eating meals, playing pool, and talking, I knew Wisam was the right guy.”
In April, Wisam began working at the Grove Orchard. Together the two men spent April and May preparing 5,000 apple tree grafts for planting, and then working in the fields on a diverse number of crops. Geoff is new to farming and Wisam is new to Canada, and so the two men are learning as they go.
The farm cultivates a variety of berries such as strawberry, raspberry, high bush blueberry, and elderberry. The orchard has at least nine varieties of apples, two varieties of Asian pears, five varieties of plums, seedless grapes, plumcots (plum-apricots), and chums (cherry-plums).
The men work eight hours a day or more, depending on weather and crop needs. Geoff says, “I am not a do-this, do-that kind of boss. I try to work as hard as or harder than Wisam. We work together.”
“Before the war in Syria, I worked in real estate and had another business,” says Wisam. “I also owned two farms. Both had olives, figs, and grapes. The one near the mountains had olive trees with big olives good for eating. At the other farm we used the olives for oil.
Between the trees we planted beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers. The beans were very good, very delicious,” Wisam raises his hand to his lips in the universal gesture meaning tasty.
“In Syria we had a very beautiful home. Now, everything is gone. I have left behind everything, including my parents and my brothers.
“I stay on PEI because of my wife, her family, and my children, Ibrahim and Andreh, and now, because of Geoff. Geoff… he is so good.” He hesitates, his eyes gone liquid with these simple but powerful words, and what this Canadian man means to him.
Geoff jumps in and fills the silence. He talks about the respect his family has for Wisam’s family and the courage it took for them to leave everything behind in Syria to come here. Geoff goes on to say how important family is to both men. “That makes us the same,” he says with emphasis.
For more information about the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada, visit www.peianc.com.
Submitted by co-authors Yvette Doucette and Tori Vail, PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada
Anja Salijević (Ališić) – Sharing Knowledge to Improve Islanders Health
Together with her parents, Anja Salijević (Ališić) immigrated to PEI as a refugee. After high school, she completed her education in the United States, obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Promotion and Education. She worked in the States within the non-profit world for several years, mostly in fundraising, until 2014 when she and her husband decided to move back to the island where Anja had grown up.
When Anja moved back to PEI she approached PEI ANC for assistance. Her Employment Counsellor, Dandan Wang, worked with her to first examine her credentials and build her resume. Anja says, “Dandan is a wonderful counsellor. She never gives up. She looked for possible opportunities for me, and suggested related careers as well.”
Anja’s credentials did not allow her to work in her field in Canada due to the occupation regulations. Dandan helped Anja assess her skills and develop a job search plan. Part of that plan included volunteering—a choice which led Anja to help out at several health fairs, illustrating her knowledge and excellent people skills to staff at the Canadian Cancer Society.
Dandan suggested a Career Pathways Program which landed Anja a five-month term of work with the Canadian Cancer Society, PEI Division as a health promotion assistant. Anja was able finally to show her aptitude for work in health promotion. She has been hired for a second contract at the Cancer Society and her supervisor, Director of Community Programs, Holly Smith, says, “Anja is a pleasure to work with. She works in Support Services and Volunteer Management and she is fantastic at her job. She also chips in on other work as needed. She is a true team worker and her education, training, and personality, make her a real fit here.”
Anja is so pleased to be utilizing her skills in health promotion and program coordination. She says, “So many people believed in me. I am so grateful to have found a job in my field contributing to this important local health organization.”
Yemi Olusoji – Persistence and Hard Work
Yemi Olusoji, her husband and three children (now 15, 14, and 7), arrived on PEI in March, 2013. She met with Employment Counsellor Lisa Chaisson at PEI ANC Yemi is an accountant and quickly began working towards her CPA certification for Canada. Yemi received her Canadian certification in September 2013, and started looking for work in her field.
Lisa helped Yemi update and rework her resume for the Canadian market; she scanned job sites and mined her contacts for a suitable position for her. Yemi provided Lisa with updates on her progress. She conducted her own research and compiled an extensive list of accounting firms, and sent them all her resume. Lisa reviewed her cover letters, and Yemi attended a two-day Employment Workshop at PEI ANC to learn more about Canadian work culture. Yemi discovered that many companies on PEI use the program, Simply Accounting, so she signed up for a 16-week evening course at Holland College to improve her use of this program. She also applied for a “Letter in Good Standing” from the International Accounting Body, ACCA, and she took a law and tax course online. In this way Yemi proved to be an ideal employment client: proactive, diligent, and self-directed.
Still, despite both Yemi and Lisa’s best efforts, no volunteer placements or jobs were forthcoming. Yemi was understandably getting discouraged. Finally she was asked to interview for a position of bookkeeper for a local company. To assist her, Lisa arranged for a mock interview with PEI ANC’s own accounting person, Barry Ansems, as one of the interviewers. Lisa and Barry interviewed Yemi and recorded the interview. They worked with her to improve her answers where necessary, and indicated where her strengths were evident. While Yemi was unsuccessful at being hired for that position, she had met Barry Ansems who was impressed with her, and he gave Lisa a contact to approach at Arsenault Best Cameron Ellis (ABCE) accounting firm.
After all of her hard work, Yemi was given an opportunity to interview with ABCE for an accounting technician position. With the approval of Skills PEI for the Employ PEI Program, she began working there in December 2014 on a six month contract. That contract was extended for two months, and then in early July of this year, the partners at the firm informed Yemi that she was ‘just too good at her job’ for them to let her go. She is now employed in a full-time permanent position, and says, “I couldn’t be happier. I am so grateful for the support from Lisa and from PEI ANC in helping to ease transition to Canada. Along with employment support, ANC helped with contacting schools for the children, and suggested integration activities for us. We are all settling in. I am so hopeful for the future.”
Shan Ying Wang and Torsten Kutterer – Making Connections
One of the greatest challenges for newcomers is to find that first job to can gain Canadian work experience. The Enhanced Employability Essential Language Skills (EEELS) class that is offered at Holland College through its LINC program, for newcomers with Level 6 and above English skills, is instrumental in helping its students gain their first work placements in various companies and businesses. PEI ANC referred both Shan Ying Wang, who arrived on PEI in December, 2013, and Torsten Kutterer, who arrived in April, 2014, to the LINC program. It was there they became friends and gained their first Canadian work experiences.
A PNP client, Shan Ying’s obligations under the program were to open, buy or invest in a business. He discussed these options with his ANC Employment Counsellor, Etta Esler. As the owner of a factory in Ningbo, China, Shan Ying was advised by Etta to gain some Canadian work experience, before opening his own company. In July 2014 he opened Reito Industrial Products, Ltd. Reito creates precision castings from metal as well as plastics, mainly for furniture and the auto and construction industries.
In the fall of 2014, Shan Ying and Torsten met again in the Newcomer Entrepreneur program (NEP) offered by the PEI ANC in partnership with the PEI Connectors program. They studied the components of a business plan and received fi rst-hand information from local experts on business topics. They made vital connections with other newcomers and established Islanders. Before moving to Canada, Kutterer had worked as sales and marketing manager of a family-run wine business in Germany. Shan Ying decided to hire Torsten to market his company.
Shan Ying emphasizes the importance of making connections. “If you are a newcomer you have to go out and meet people. When I came to PEI, I went fishing, I played soccer, I volunteered. The more people you know the better.”
Torsten agrees. “Building a network is vital. Joining Holland College and taking a class like the EEELS class lets you meet people at once.” When Torsten and his wife, Anja, came to PEI, they signed up for Employment Services, volunteered for different community events, took Mandarin classes, and attended local concerts and PEI ANC events.
Both men feel the Island is an excellent place for Reito to grow, as there are numerous export opportunities and room for innovation. Shan Ying is looking to expand into North America, while Reito’s primary market is currently Germany — a decided asset in Torsten’s favour given his knowledge of the language and culture. “We have recently hired an established Islander, on contract, to enhance our work on Prince Edward Island,” says Shan Ying. “Things are starting to move in the right direction for Reito.”
Nan Chen – A PNP Business: The Chinese Grocery
“As a newcomer, when I first arrived, I did not know what to do,” says Nan. “Dandan Wang, my Employment Counsellor at Newcomers Association helped to reorganize my resume, and showed me useful websites such as the Job Bank. We investigated companies on PEI that were in my industry, like Sun Life Financial. My English is good, so I took interpreter training and I do that for the PEI ANC. I also participated in the Employment Workshop offered by ANC on Canadian workplace culture. I studied for two months for an exam to upgrade my insurance credentials to Canadian ones. Now I am an insurance agent in a pre-contract program with Sun Life.
Living on PEI exceeds my expectations. It is not a big place, but I like that. I love the clean air and the friendly people. The weather is so nice, even though the snow was so deep last year! I went to DiverseCity Festival and was so impressed and surprised with how big it was, and how much fun. My parents were visiting and they were amazed that this festival was on a tiny Island. We went to the Summerside festival also.
As a PNP client, I had a short time to invest in a business, buy, or start a business. In China my husband was a General Insurance Re-insurance agent. Neither of us had experience in retail but we did know the products Chinese like to eat and cook. I saw there was a Chinese specialty store for sale and we purchased it. Immigrants can adapt to change, but everyone likes to eat the food and dishes they grew up eating in their homes!”
Dandan Wang says, “Nan is a smart and skilled young woman. She attended the Alternate Career Event organized here at the Association to look at new careers. She also obtained her license to sell insurance in Canada. Just this August, Nan opened her own business with her husband Zhihui Tong—the Chinese Grocery at 237 University Avenue in Charlottetown. I believe Nan has the ability to attain her dreams.”
Chen goes on with her story. “There are several Asian food stores here. But competition is ok! We want to build something that is good for customers. Island people know of some Chinese products that they like, and they come in and shop too. If our store provides products for Chinese Islanders so they can buy what they need right here, maybe they will stay and help this Island. This is a sort of obligation we have, to be part of helping PEI, our new home, prosper.”
Helping to promote the hiring needs of new Chinese businesses
My name is Jing Zhao. Currently, I volunteer for The Employment Journey on PEI.
This newspaper provides job information across PEI, and I have heard about it from many friends. I have wished to be a member of this newspaper team since then.
Now, as a volunteer, I will interview new PEI businesses owned and operated by newcomers from China, and report their job opportunities to benefit local job seekers. My goal is to build the personal inter-relationship between Chinese businesses and the local workforce.
I am an international student from China, and my major is English. I took my first two years of study at Southwest Jiaotong University in China, and then transferred to the University of Prince Edward Island in 2014.
During my two years of study, I have enjoyed my academic experience at UPEI. I have gained many valuable skills, such as time-management, critical thinking, professional writing, and public speaking. I worked hard, and all my professors at UPEI are so great, and they have given me a lot of help. I was on the Dean’s honour list and won The MacLauchlan Prize for Effective Writing in 2015.
Apart from academic study, I have worked some part-time jobs. I work as an on-campus editor in The Cadre, the UPEI student newspaper. I aim to spread Chinese culture and report news to other students. I am also an editor for the Canada & China International Business Newspaper. I translate between Chinese and English to allow Chinese immigrants to more easily understand the information.
As for volunteer experience, I am a member of Chinese Knot, the UPEI Chinese Association, and I volunteer at PEI Chinese School, teaching children Mandarin, and conveying Chinese culture. Also, I am an English as a Second Language tutor for the PEI Newcomers Association. I help other newcomers improve their English and get involved in their new country.
PEI Immigration Partnership: When Prince Edward Island needed help during COVID-19 many cultural communities stepped forward to support PEI.
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