The Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre (NWC) held an information session in Shaunavon last week to help inform residents, including newcomers and immigrants, about what the centre has to offer.
The Welcome Centre, which is based out of Swift Current, has a wide variety of resources that can be accessed by newcomers.
“We have seven programs of service and can provide assistance to people from the moment they first arrive and need help with applying for things like a health card, getting a SIN number, child tax credit, finding a doctor . . . anything and everything,” smiled Rebecca Anderson, the Community Connections worker at the NWC.
The programs that NWC offers are divided into areas that include community engagement, employment services, gateway services, settlement services, settlement worker in schools (SWIS), information services and local immigration partnership.
Anderson's role is focused on helping establish and operate programs that link and involve newcomers and their communities.
The information event in Shaunavon last week was held at the Grand Coteau Centre on the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 22.
It's all part of a bigger effort to help create awareness about the Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre in communities around Swift Current.
The Welcome Centre serves clients in many different communities across the Southwest.
In fact, it covers an area that stretches from the US/Canada border up to Elrose and from the Alberta border all the way east to Ernfold.
“We split the region into 12 trips," explained Anderson. "And we've been making our way around and making sure people know what the Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre is and what we do. So that if they have someone move to their community, people can point them in our direction as a place where newcomers can get support.”
Gabriel Lantican, a SWIS worker, highlighted the importance of these programs and how they can help children and parents.
“The SWIS program is a school-based outreach program," he stated. "Our goal is to help newcomer families and children - school-aged children to be specific - to settle and integrate within the school system, as well as the community where they reside in. In contrast with the other programs, we focus more on the integration and settlement of the children, the school-aged children, rather than the adults. We also work alongside the parents, as well. We do a lot of things in terms of our services.”
Examples of where SWIS can offer support include school registration, transportation and busing, getting a school schedule and timetables, arranging school tours, and much more.
“Even just making sure that the students have the appropriate materials for them to succeed in school can be important," said Lantican. "Of course, we also follow up and refer clients to other services where they need it. Our involvement and assistance really depends on the case and the situation.”
SWIS can also help students once they are finished high school, whether its applying to university or setting up workshops to help prepare teens for life after school.
The Welcome Centre also hosts programs for kids, like the painting class and the past field trips where children got to tour businesses and services in and around Shaunavon.
“If you've ever traveled to another country, where the culture is very different than your own, it can be very overwhelming," said Anderson. "That can include everything from just buying groceries or knowing where to go for a medical situation. Everything is new and foreign to you. If English isn't your first language, it becomes even more daunting. So having people to support you with that just makes for an easier transition. It can make you feel more accepted or welcome. And our main goal is retention, making sure that when people come to the community, they have such a good experience that that's where they stay. We want the southwest to be the place that people stay.”
For more information contact the Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website newcomerwelcomecentre.com.
Jacob Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shaunavon Standard