Caring for our community – Making Montreal home

By: Ekaterina Oursegova

My story is similar to many of my compatriots from the former Soviet Union, who left their country in search of a better life for themselves and their families. I immigrated to Canada with my husband and daughter four years ago.

Our immigration was not an easy one.

We discovered that our education and over 20 years of experience in our related fields did not count for very much towards obtaining Permanent Resident status. This reality was devastating and depressing to accept.

It was a hard time for our family.  We had to find work immediately to provide for our own basic needs. We were faced with having to learn French – an absolutely new language for us – and try to get by with English, which we studied at school 20 years ago and never practiced.

During all this difficult time, we didn’t have any family in Canada. We turned to Ometz (formerly known as JIAS and JEM) for support.  Our contact was Natasha Sosunov, an integration worker, whose professionalism; warmth and compassion helped us survive and eased our integration into the community.

She provided us with opportunities to meet new people and learn new skills.

I tried to attend all events, and there were a lot of them!  I was able to attend several employment workshops which helped to prepare me for my job search. My daughter joined a language acquisition camp which helped her make new friends and learn French.

My experience with Ometz made me feel welcomed and supported. I always thought that the people who work for this wonderful place are so lucky. They have an opportunity to help others by providing warmth and support.

In 2008, Natasha told me about a job opportunity at Ometz, replacing her as an integration worker in the immigration services department. It was an opportunity to give back and do what I had admired. She encouraged me to apply.

Today we have Permanent Resident status in Canada, my husband is one of the leading specialists at CAD Inc., and I continue to work at Ometz helping new immigrants to integrate and settle in their new lives, overcoming all barriers that I had to overcome myself. It makes me happy to be able to give back to the community that helped me and my family to feel that we were not alone.

Visit Ometz online: http://www.ometz.ca/

Agence Ometz delivers services to low-income families, those individuals seeking employment, families in need, as well as assisting new immigrants to establish themselves in Montreal.
Federation CJA allocated $4,412,000 (includes poverty relief fund)

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