by Stacy Dunn
Immigrant and Refugee Services Association PEI (IRSA PEI) – formerly PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada – offers numerous programs and services to international students, permanent residents, work permit holders, and others who have immigrated to the Island.
The core program is Newcomer Settlement Services, which offers newcomers direct services to help them settle and integrate into Canadian society. IRSA PEI provides assistance with translation, guidance on a wide variety of issues, a comprehensive needs assessment, and interpretation. They can make referrals to services such as doctors, immunizations, and government programs.
“From this program, they are referred to other programs and services within IRSA PEI,” says Lisa Chiasson, Employment Specialist. “If the client is a temporary foreign worker, they may want information on how to become a permanent resident and Settlement Services can provide them with that.”
The Employment Assistance Services program assesses clients’ employment strengths and skills and explores options to address any employment barriers. Staff help to identify employment or volunteer opportunities and offer one-to-one career counselling.
“We help with resumés, cover letters, applications, interview preparation, how to present yourself, and many other services,” Lisa says. “We also help employers connect with qualified candidates. We receive calls quite often from employers who are looking for workers, so we promote these opportunities in IRSA PEI’s newsletter.
“We encourage our clients and other newcomers to subscribe to our newsletter to learn about these opportunities, our job search workshops, our networking events, and more.”
Cultural inclusion training
Inclusion training bridges cultural gaps and fosters welcoming Island communities. IRSA PEI delivers workshops and presentations on cultural diversity and inclusion to workplaces, post-secondary schools, and community organizations across PEI to show the impact of culture on our interactions with each other.
“Networking and looking good on a resumé and adapting to Canadian norms can be a challenge,” Lisa says. “It’s not about necessarily adapting to Canadian culture as it is about everyone adapting to each other and learning about everyone’s different cultures.”
Employment opportunities to work at IRSAPEI
“Last year, the Association created a talent pool and encouraged people to apply for future positions within IRSA. They will be accepting applications to the pool at different times throughout the year, but in the meantime, any openings at IRSA will be posted on their Facebook and LinkedIn pages and can also be found on their website at www.irsapei.ca.”
“Positions could be short-term or long-term,” Lisa says. “To get your foot in the door, it may be good to take a short-term position here, because it may lead to a long-term position.”
Other IRSA PEI programs and services
- English as an Additional Language Tutor Program
- Youth Settlement Services
- Family Counselling
- Canada School Program
- Community Engagement
IRSA PEI offices are located in Charlottetown and at Summerside City Hall. At the Summerside location, employment assistance and settlement services are provided, along with a dedicated Youth Services worker.