“I have been in Calgary for six months and I have not yet found a permanent job,” said Kibreab Asmelash, an immigrant from Eritrea.
“My biggest problem is finding trustworthy information,” said Mohammed Nasir, a young immigrant looking to upgrade his accounting degree for the Canadian job market.
The Calgary Career Education and Settlement Immigrant Fair was held at the Telus Convention Centre downtown.
Many attended the different workshops, presentations and exhibits focused on better acquainting immigrants to the Canadian way of life.
“They are getting the ins and outs on becoming a Canadian,” said Sarah Bellman, a volunteer with the program.
“Here you see so many people looking to help people like me and that is a reason to feel happy,” said Nasir.
Educators, social service providers, and employers attended the event, allowing immigrants the chance to exchange information with them.
Presentations on preparing for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), starting a small business, improving English pronunciation and becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) were part of the program.
“The family that I am staying with helped me make my resume but when I showed them here, they made a lot of corrections for me,” said Natalia Černý.
Černý, a jewelry maker, aspires to one day have her own jewelry company.
“I learned a lot from the small business panelists. They gave me the confidence to try a few things I have had on my mind,” said Černý.
“I don’t have money but I now know how and where to look for it.”
“I take every opportunity to find work but it is really hard out there,” said Asmelash. A nursing and accounting graduate, Asmelash wishes to continue his nursing career.
“I am looking for a way to either find a job in that area or get on the right educational path to get me there as soon as possible,” said Asmelash.
Nasir, an accountant from Pakistan, is also looking for avenues to continue his career without having to go back to school.
“I find it hard to understand, but all I hear is that I have to go back to school to be an accountant here,” said Nasir.” “I just finished four years of accounting in Lahore and I was confident I would find a job.”
“This is a safe space for immigrants to get the chance to really assimilate with the Canadian way of life,” said Alice Onyango.
“Here they learn how to start their settlement process.”
Onyango is a Kenyan immigrant who volunteered her personal time to translate for two other Kenyan immigrants at the event.
“I help newcomers from Kenya with their resumes, various applications,” said Onyango.
“My operation is not this large. I only help friends or friends of friends as a way to continue the kindness shown to me when I first arrived in Canada 13 years ago.”
“With a three-pronged approach of settlement, careers and education, the fair brings to life our mission to inform, educate and motivate new Canadians,” wrote Gautam Sharma, group publisher of Canadian Immigrant, on the official website for the magazine.
But some participants expressed disappointment in the program.
“I didn’t think this is how a job fair is,” said Kevin Xie. “I want to start work so I can support my family. I came to the fair for a job.”
“I thought I was coming here to meet employers that had jobs for me,” said Alem Getachew.
What we need right now is jobs. – Alem Getachew
Getachew was recently laid off from her job as a janitor and came to the fair with the understanding that she was going to be interviewed by potential employers.
The website for the Canadian Immigrant Magazine lays out the event’s purpose as being educative and encourages participants to come with notebooks to write down useful pointers.
“I didn’t even take the time to really look into it, I just jumped at the opportunity because I am an immigrant and needing a job,” said Getachew.
“What we need right now is jobs.”