David Cox Learning to integrate and wanting to contribute

The Centre d’accueil et référence sociale et économique pour immigrants (CARI) St-Laurent is a gateway for immigrants and new arrivals to find a place in the work force and a sense of belonging through workshops, support services and networking evenings. They are here to join the society, adapt and make a contribution to the communities they live in.

On the networking evenings, the room is filled with faces of all shades, shapes and sizes, with all eyes on the table up front. There, four business representatives prepare to discuss the opportunities that lie within their industries to the captive audience. A networking portion follows the presentation.

The host organization, CARI, invites their immigrant clientele to meet with the employers in this casual atmosphere. The goal is not necessarily to find a job that night, but to help the new Quebecers to be comfortable when meeting a prospective employer.

« They learn interpersonal communication skills in our workshops and can put them to use here. The employers will also give them advice on presenting themselves and their CVs. The employers reinforce the lessons we have given our clients, and that helps them with confidence and being more at ease in interviews, » explains Employment Counselor Mourad Taleb.

CARI offers their clientele employment counselors who help them develop strategies and approaches for getting a job. Through one-on-one meetings and group workshops, they build a network with guidance from the counsellors. CARI has eight, five-week long workshops per year with 15 participants each session.

More than just business

Many new immigrants not only face a challenge to find work, but they must also adapt to a different culture and Quebec weather. CARI provides family-oriented workshops to help with these often stressful adjustments.

To help with the coming of winter, they presented a morning gathering called « Célébrer le temps des fêtes autrement » in early December. It was an information session providing an overview of the customs observed in Quebec and a chance to share traditional recipes, learn about winter recreation and other ways to enjoy the winter, and not wither inside.

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