Our new “Elevate” program addresses the pivotal role employment plays within the settlement process for refugees. Christie launched the Elevate program this year with a 3-year Grow Grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to provide employment and settlement services to refugee claimants.
Some may find it surprising that many refugees do not name recovering from past traumas as the sole most challenging part of resettling. Elevate’s Employment Settlement Worker, Megan Wilkinson explains that, “Over and over again, I hear one of the most difficult parts of life here is actually finding housing and employment that can pay the bills. If you don’t have those things in place, there’s no way you can even begin healing from all of your trauma and pain. Finding meaningful employment is essential to being able to move forward with one’s life.”
Whether it be someone wishing to improve their computer skills, or an internationally trained professional needing to reconnect to their career in this new country, individuals enter the program at vastly different stages from one another. For this reason, Megan likes starting clients with a self-assessment whereby they identify their own strengths and needs.
“I’m someone who helps them get connected to opportunities and to people,” Megan states, “I’m there to teach skills and provide tools that help them grow, develop, and make informed decisions for themselves.”
For example, a client was interested in enrolling in a pharmacy assistant training program. Megan helped her research programs and explore what being a pharmacist assistant looks like in Canada. Doing so helped the individual realize the average salary in the profession was too small for her needs and since this was meant as a temporary position, with her long-term goals being in media and television, she decided to go a completely different direction. She found an amazing digital office administrative position offered through Humber College where she was able to simultaneously receive credits.
Megan urges people to remember that, “The families that we serve here at Christie are talented, brilliant, driven, hardworking people. We need them, our economy needs them. There’s so much more that they can offer and give if they are able to be moving forward in their career.”