Hundreds of Ukrainian newcomers hand out resumes at Calgary job fair

·3 min read
Saturday's job fair was held at St. Vladimir's Ukrainian Orthodox Sobor in Calgary. (Nick Brizuela/CBC - image credit)
Saturday's job fair was held at St. Vladimir's Ukrainian Orthodox Sobor in Calgary. (Nick Brizuela/CBC - image credit)

Hundreds of Ukrainian newcomers handed out resumes to employers during a job fair Saturday at a Calgary church.

The event, co-organized by the Centre for Newcomers and St. Vladimir's Ukrainian Orthodox Sobor, proved to be a success for jobseekers and employers alike.

"It's fantastic. The turnout is amazing," said Kelly Ernst, vice president of vulnerable populations with the Centre for Newcomers. He said more than 400 newcomers and 30 employers turned out for the event.

"The interaction that's going on inside right now is just overwhelmingly phenomenal," Ernst said.

The event aimed to help Ukrainian newcomers to Calgary find jobs ranging from office administration to retail.

For some adult immigrants like Olha Akhmedova, who has only been in Canada for a month, one of the greatest hurdles in finding a job in Calgary is the language barrier. There's also the issue of having to retake years worth of education.

Nick Brizuela/CBC
Nick Brizuela/CBC

Back in Kyiv, Akhmedova was a head nurse with more than 20 years of experience. But because of differences between the education systems here and in Ukraine, Akhmedova is not qualified to work as a nurse in Canada.

"She still wants to keep doing her job, but she obviously cannot," Akhmedova said through an interpreter.

"She cannot study for an extra seven years. So she's just trying to find herself something else right now. But she could contribute as a nurse."

A long road to Canada

Although the current situation for many Ukrainians is smothering, newcomer Hanna Chepurda from Kyiv is optimistic about the future. Chepurda attended the job fair on Saturday in search of an office administration position.

Chepurda said she worked as an economist for about seven years before she was forced to flee her home country.

"It was a hard way to leave Ukraine," she said.

Chepurda said she fled her home in early March and travelled through several countries in Europe — Romania, Poland, Austria and Ireland — before arriving in Calgary.

Nick Brizuela/CBC
Nick Brizuela/CBC

Even though she's now here in Canada, Chepurda said she hopes to reunite with her family in Ukraine when better times come.

"I dream about it because I miss them so much."

Successful event for employers

Cole Millen, general manager at Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire said the job fair was very successful.

"The turnout has been tremendous. It's been a bit of an onslaught quite frankly," he said.

Millen said Sheraton hired 12 new attendants and a front desk agent at the job fair. He said English language skills are not a huge barrier for certain jobs, such as a hotel room attendant, as basic communication is all that's necessary.

"A willingness to work, a positive attitude, a good smile will get you very, very far with us," said Millen.

Nick Brizuela/CBC
Nick Brizuela/CBC

The success of the job fair went beyond just providing newcomers with jobs, according to Millen.

"It's obviously a terrible tragedy that many of these people have had to cope with, and so, if we're able to help them land and settle in Calgary, we're very pleased to be able to do that."

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