Arrival in Canada
When she arrived in Calgary, Almaz was greeted by a friendly immigration officer from a settlement organization in the city. The officer brought Almaz from the airport to a furnished apartment that had been prepared for her. As she adjusted to her new life in Calgary, settlement workers continued to help her with tasks such as setting up a bank account and grocery shopping.
Almaz’s experience with the Calgary settlement agency was positive. As she struggled to adapt to Canadian society, she appreciated the patience of the workers who assisted her settlement process. She acknowledges that with their help during her initial arrival in Canada, the Calgary organization left an impact on her settlement journey as a whole. In Almaz’s opinion, a good start in a new country will lay a strong foundation for an immigrant’s settlement. She says that “how you start determines what you will end up with.”
However, settlement processes are not always supportive for immigrants. “While I had a positive experience with the settlement agency, it does not take away the initial struggle, fear of the unknown, and isolation one encounters,” she emphasizes. “As a system, I don’t think the settlement sector is consistent or resourced for continued supportive services for all.”
Almaz eventually moved to Toronto and started volunteering at a non-profit organization. Her fond memories of early encounters with the Canadian settlement sector as well as the need for the sector’s improvement inspired Almaz to devote herself to this cause.