Pembina Valley – Cooperation Integral in Supporting Immigration Services
January 28, 2020
For many communities, immigration plays a vital role in economic growth, with newcomers filling vacancies and needs within the workforce.
However, moving from your home country and adjusting to a new community and atmosphere can be a challenge. That’s where organizations such as Regional Connections come in. During 2019, the immigrant service was busy providing settlement, employment and language services for newcomers to South-Central Manitoba.
Around 1,200 new clients applied to use their services, meaning over 4,000 newcomers used Regional Connections between Altona, Morden, and Winkler offices and off-site programs this past year.
Executive Director Steve Reynolds says the success of their programming is the collective efforts of community partners.
“One of the great things about living and working in this region is partnerships with other organizations in town — community partners, and with people on a very practical level, to deliver activities like financial literacy with Access Credit Union. Family Resource Centres, Rec Departments, and Municipalities’ collaboration is really amazing.”
Collaborative efforts include Settlement Workers in Schools in Western and Borderland School Divisions, ensuring newcomer children and families are supported through the school system. Eden Health Care Services also provides a mental health counsellor once a week to aid clients during the transition process and pre-migration trauma they may have experienced.
The binding agent for all these elements is the Pembina Valley Local Immigration Partnership. The group which allows voices and community leaders to connect, and to identify and reduce barriers within communities for newcomers.
Reynolds says there has always been a small amount of the collaborative efforts between community leaders and municipalities. However, now with a group dedicated to that incentive to focus on issues such as transportation and improving mental health services region-wide, it allows for more organic and efficient problem-solving.
Overall, Reynolds says they continue to see the uses of the services increase, leading to Regional Connections to expand the number of programs and initiatives.
“We believe strongly in our programs, and we see the benefits, so you always wish there were more people there, and there could be more. The adult literacy program is really good, as it helps people with their reading and writing skills, especially for those who’ve had an interrupted or incomplete education.”
Reynolds says they are working on making their services available to communities that currently don’t have access, such as Morris, Carman, Lowe Farm, and Rosenort. He adds Regional Connections is working with some potential partners within those areas.