Heva’s family came to Canada in October of 2016 as government-sponsored Syrian refugees. Their journey had been a long one. Heva, her parents, two sisters and a brother had escaped to Turkey and applied to come to Canada. It was three years before they received word that they would be coming to Canada and settling in Thunder Bay. They arrived here with hope and gratitude, but also with the challenges that come with adapting to a new country and a new culture. The Thunder Bay Multicultural Centre immediately stepped in to help with the family’s settlement and Heva sought out other community supports as well.
Heva is the eldest of her family’s siblings. She knew that the key to academic and employment success was learning the language, so she focused her energy there. She started school at St. Ignatius High School right away, and had the assistance of Guidance Counsellor Deborah Leschuk to help her acquire education in a completely new language. “Language was the most difficult challenge I faced”, Heva remembers. The school provided Heva with an iPad which she used for translation in all her classes. Ms. Leschuk also helped Heva find opportunities to practice her English outside of school and Heva rose to every occasion. She loved practicing her English with patients when she volunteered as a “Friendly Visitor” at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Health care was definitely the field she was interested in pursuing so she applied for, and was accepted into the pre-health program at Confederation College.
By June, Heva was set to graduate. She was incredibly proud to have achieved a grade of 80% in English. She was working hard outside of school as well. In addition to helping her younger siblings with English, she was also helping her parents with appointments and paperwork, including taxes. It was a lot of responsibility.
Heva also knew that she needed a job to help her pay for her post-secondary education. She turned to Ms. Leschuk for help. Ms. Leschuk contacted YES to ask if we could help Heva find a summer job. We thought that the Youth Job Connection – Summer program could help. We brought Heva in for an assessment and she was accepted in to the program. The Youth Job Connection – Summer program helped Heva address the barriers that she was facing as a newcomer and a new worker.
She attended 24 hours of pre-employment training that focused on workplace expectations and communications. During the workshops, we brought in local employers to talk about paid opportunities with their organizations.
Heva was interested in a few workplaces, but when Moffat Makuto came in to talk about the Regional Multicultural Youth Centre (RMYC), Heva was sure this was the summer job for her. We set up a meeting with Moffat and he found her to be an ideal fit for the job. She started her placement at RMYC the following week.
When we caught up with Heva at RMYC she was enjoying her position and already making plans for a part-time job during the school year. YES will be helping her update her resume and Moffat has promised a glowing reference for Heva. We are also helping her with job leads for September. The fall is looking bright for Heva who, along with her family, will be eligible to apply for Canadian Citizenship in October of 2019.
Congratulations on all you have achieved, Heva! We are grateful to be part of your journey.
Left to right:Curtis and Alex at Central Car Wash, Sam at RMYC, Jimmy and Jewel at Thunder Games and Gifts and Niklas at Community Clothing Assistance Mission.
YES offers programs to help individuals of all ages and all levels of need. September is just around the corner. We can help with your employment and training goals. Just walk in for service.