Faith Tsao expected to start a new life and a new job after immigrating to Toronto from Hong Kong. Instead, Tsao, a registered nurse, was told her credentials were not valid due to her weak command of English.
Six years later, she is fluent in the language.
“I came across The Northwest Scarborough Local Immigration Partnership (NWS LIP) and attended ESL programs and my life changed,” she said.
Newcomers like Tsao shared their stories at the NWS LIP meeting on Sept. 28 at the Centre for Information and Community Services in Scarborough.
The second annual event kicked off with traditional Chinese, Indian and Tamil dances.
While programs like NWS LIP help make services for newcomers more accessible, project manager Mani Mahadevi says there is still work to be done in the Northwest Scarborough communities where 71 per cent of the population are immigrants.
There are a lot of immigrants who have little access to newcomer settlement programs, most of which are based in downtown Toronto.
Mahadevi said many newcomers like Tsao have degrees but still undergo a hard time settling into Scarborough.
“Many newcomers end up becoming taxi drivers or factory workers,” Mahadevi said.
“If the government can create new opportunities for newcomers based on their skills, that would be great.”
Having arrived in Toronto in the early 70s, Soo Wong knows about the difficulties of settling in.
Currently the Liberal candidate for Scarborough-Agincourt, Wong says she wants to help immigrants in Scarborough become familiar with settlement programs like NWS LIP.
“When you [newcomers] succeed as a new Canadian, we all succeed,” she said.
NWS LIP was established in 2009 and serves the neighbourhoods of Steeles, L’Amoreaux, Agincourt, South Malvern and Milliken.
The organization partners with programs such as ESL, education boards, health institutions and many other programs aimed at helping immigrants adjust to life in Scarborough.