“‘You don’t have Canadian experience. Your accent is hard to understand. You don’t know the community.’ This is the type of feedback I received when I started looking for a job as an immigrant. In Venezuela I was a professor and we had a good life, but political instability made it hard to plan a future for my family. But how was I going to find a job and create a good life in Canada with these obstacles?
I felt very disconnected, discriminated against, vulnerable, and frustrated that there was lack of recognition of my credentials, even though I had a master’s degree from McGill – a Canadian University. It was clear to me that I did not have the same options to find a job as others but also, I lacked community connections and a way to network.
So, I choose to take action. I went back to school and upgraded, gained some internship experience and exposure to local community agencies, and volunteered. I also reached out to immigrant agencies. They encouraged and helped me build a network to help me get contacts and experience in my field of community development. It started there and now I have fulfilling work and the opportunity to share my experience and advocate to help others.
To me, poverty means not having control of your own future. Vibrant Communities Calgary, and agencies like Alberta Network for Immigrant Women, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, Calgary Immigration Services, Direction for Immigrants, the Immigrant Education Society, CIWA, and Carya, give immigrants back that control. I am so proud to work alongside them.”