Finding a home, away from home

by Zunera Buttar, CCS Marketing Lead

A lot of us take for granted a trip to the doctors, bank, or even the supermarket. For newcomers whose first language is not English, it’s challenging to find a job, somewhere to live, or simply their way around.

Arezo Mohiby is a newcomer to Canada now living in Caledon. Originally from Kabul, Afghanistan she moved to Canada because she was seeking better opportunities for her future. Arezo remembers really struggling when she first arrived. “I came Canada the first thing I saw here is I couldn’t communicate with people. It was very hard for me. When I wanted to talk to someone they just turn their face. It hurt me.” Feeling frustrated and scared is just part of what many describe as the newcomer experience.

Caledon Community Services started the LINC program in 2007 in Caledon and it was in direct response to the community needs. There were newcomers and older immigrants in Caledon struggling to speak English. Francesca Bernadowitsch the Coordinator of LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) remembers her own struggles with communicating in English. “My parents were immigrants from Italy. My first language is not English even though I was born here. I didn’t learn English until I was in grade 1, and I struggled with it. So I’ve always had a soft spot for immigrants.”

For newcomers to Canada, learning English is the first step in building self-esteem as well as acquiring a sense of community and belonging. The LINC team encourages their students to take ownership of their own learning by having frequent interactions with others and by becoming involved in the community.

“When we first came here we felt ashamed for talking. The teacher and the community forced us to talk. They say just don’t be quiet. Listening and writing is not enough you have to have conversation with others,” Arezo says.

Talking to Arezo, you can hear how determined she is to learn English. For her, learning the language means being self-sufficient and unhindered in her daily tasks.

“I want to open up my beauty salon one day”, Arezo gushes. With her English skills continuing to flourish at LINC, Arezo is well on her way to making her dream come true.

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