GGP is providing remote document assistance during COVID-19

Global Gathering Place is here to support you remotely. We can provide information, answer questions, and guide you through your documents.

  • Housing challenges and applications
  • Service Canada benefits (Canada Child Benefit, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security, Employment Insurance)
  • Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS)
  • Tax information
  • Applying for tests (CELPIP, IELTS)
  • Citizenship eligibility and requirements 

Please contact kateryna.bryzh@globalgatheringplace.com. You will receive further instructions as soon as possible and will be helped in a timely manner.

Newcomer youth build valuable skills in computer coding course

In partnership with the CyberLaunch Academy, the Global Gathering Place recently wrapped up a multi-week Youth Computer Coding course for 10 to 14 year-olds from newcomer families. Tailored to the newcomer community, the course makes building valuable tech skills more accessible. In addition, it provides an opportunity for youth to meet new friends and learn from each other.

Offered on Saturdays in February and March at the Global Gathering Place, youth got a crash course on electronics and coding by working with Arduino microprocessing boards. According to the Arduino website, the boards “are able to read inputs - light on a sensor, a finger on a button, or a Twitter message - and turn it into an output - activating a motor, turning on an LED, publishing something online.”

Although it sounds complicated, CyberLaunch Academy specializes in helping young people with no coding experience develop Arduino and circuitry skills. The CyberLaunch Academy is a non-profit that launched in 2016 with the goal of developing a training program that would encourage children and youth - particularly females - to pursue a career in science and technology. The training program gradually builds digital literacy through a natural progression from concepts to techniques, from play to skills, and from idea to completed project.

Every Arduino class is designed by the CyberLaunch Academy instructors, who are current University of Saskatchewan computer science faculty and students. Youth build circuits using electronic devices which are routinely embedded in toys, remote controls, microwaves and thousands of other things that are inseparable part of our daily lives.

Then, with the assistance of Arduino microcontroller, they “teach” these devices to “listen to the outside world” and to “talk to each other” to produce intricate patterns of colorful LED lights, to play out catchy tunes, or to display messages like, “We love coding!” on Liquid Chrystal Displays (LCDs). Through hands-on and engaging processes, youth are immersed in the world of electrical engineering and coding, learning the principles of electronics and fundamentals of programming languages.

Carlie Russell, GGP’s Program Facilitator, says that while other programs that build tech skills exist in the community, the newcomer population may not know about them or face obstacles to participation. “Offering Youth Computer Coding at GGP allows us to both promote it directly to clients and ensure that the program is accessible,” she explains.

For youth who may not otherwise get exposure to thriving areas of tech, a course like this can broaden their skillset and widen their career possibilities. Carlie says, “It’s great to have programs where youth can get together to build tech skills in a fun and engaging way. We want newcomers to have equal opportunities to learn and develop an interest in coding.”

This blog post was written with the input of CyberLaunch’s Dr. Natalia Stakhanova and Global Gathering Place Program Facilitator Carlie Russell.

Alumni spotlight on Abe Eazadi: The Canadian dream is alive in Saskatchewan

Abe has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. In Iran, he was a mechanical engineer and business owner, as was his brother-in-law Abbas. Together with their families, they decided to emigrate and began searching for a ripe climate to start a business. Researching opportunities in Australia, Europe, and Canada, they found the promising Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program for entrepreneurs. Abe says an added benefit was, “We talked to people and they said Canadians are kind and welcoming to new immigrants.” 

After visiting Saskatoon in 2011 and completing an immigration interview, Abe’s family moved in 2013. Per their immigration requirements, they needed to start a business. A complicated process for anyone, newcomers face additional challenges like language, which Abe says is the main barrier. Despite taking English lessons for a few years and feeling prepared before arriving, he says they were shocked by the difficulty of understanding and speaking in real time. 

Beyond the language barrier, it’s challenging for newcomers to start a business “because you don’t know the culture, you don’t know the nature of the economy,” Abe said. “Starting a business is not just a matter of doing a job, you have to have connections with people, and building those connections is a huge challenge for a newcomer. And where to start, what kind of business to start, it takes time to do research and find that.” 

To start this complex process, Abe and Abbas came to newcomer organizations for guidance. Lori Steward, a manager at GGP, assisted with their initial research of the business landscape in Saskatchewan and introduced them to business owners like Joseph Bourgeault, President and Manager of Bourgeault Tillage Tools. Abe and Abbas also connected with organizations that help entrepreneurs, including the Chamber of Commerce. Abe says, “Everyone we asked for help showed us something.”

Getting to know the community through the Global Gathering Place

As Abe’s family navigated the many aspects of settlement, Abe says, “Global Gathering was one of the places that kept us busy with English. Coming to new country you have to be busy, otherwise I think you get depressed for the first two or three months. You’re busy getting an ID, driver’s license but still you need to be involved to not feel lonely in this city. We had a great experience learning English here and also Coffee and Conversation was one of the best experiences. We made friends and are still with those friends.” 

Abe especially appreciated all the lessons on Canadian culture, both explicit and implicit, he learned at GGP. He remembers a volunteer at Coffee and Conversation explaining cultural norms in Canada, such as showing up to meetings five minutes ahead of time and shaking hands. Abe says, “If you’re coming to a country and learn this stuff ahead of time, you will be more successful in your relationships and in your job or whatever. It’s simple but very important.”

Abe’s fondness for Canada and Saskatchewan is apparent. He speaks with gratitude about the many people who helped him and his family when they arrived. While researching the hydraulics industry, many local business owners allowed Abe and Abbas to tour their shops and openly shared information about the industry. Their last tour was at Mike’s Hydraulics, a 15-year-old company that primarily serviced farm equipment. A few months later, Abe and Abbas ended up purchasing this business from owner Mike, who Abe calls “a great gentleman”. 

"Canada is equality and freedom"

Nearly six years later, the business has expanded greatly, employing 10 people and earning 8x its original revenue. Abbas built a machine that allowed the company to expand into construction and mining, and once word got out about the machine, companies started requesting them. Since November 2019 Abe and Abbas have built and exported eight to Canada, the United States, Germany, and Hungary. They are also in the process of opening a Regina branch. 

Saskatchewan has also proven to offer a lot of outdoor activities for Abe and his family. During the winter they visit Ebb’s Trails to cross country ski (15km a day!). In the summer, Abe enjoys riding his bike to towns like Delisle and Outlook, and hanging out at a café there before biking back.  

Two years ago, Abe and his family experienced an unforgettable moment: becoming Canadian citizens. About life in Canada, Abe says, “Above all it’s freedom. There is no limit for everyone, whether you’re a landed immigrant, a second or third generation immigrant, it doesn’t matter. You’re a Canadian. You have the same rights as someone whose great-grandfather came here, and not just on paper. It gives us this sense that we’re Canadian, and a sense that I want to contribute as much as I can.”

Abe's advice for new immigrants

When asked about advice for immigrants who are either newly arrived or coming soon, Abe has plenty. “Take advantage of the programs that exist here. The first thing is to work on your English, and there are free programs at Global Gathering and other places. There you can learn about the culture and language and make friends, so you can be involved with the community.”

Abe also emphasizes the importance of having a certain mentality: “I tell all immigrants who come to me, ‘We came here. Nobody invited us to come. We have chosen to come to Canada so it’s our responsibility to adapt to this country and to learn.’ Some people come with a mentality that everybody should help them. In Canada everybody is going to help you, but you have to forget about that mentality.”

“It’s our responsibility to prove ourselves as new immigrants. This community doesn’t owe anything to us, we owe something to Canada because they opened the door to us. This mentality will help immigrants to try hard to find their position. It might take 2-3 years or six months. The basic things are to learn English, learn the culture, send credentials for assessments, and patience.”

“If you build up on your potential, work on yourself, and work on your capacity and don’t blame anyone but yourself, that mentality will help you. Moving to a new country is a major change and change is stressful. But with a little patience you’ll get there. We are now ahead of where we were back home.” 

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