Healthy Communities YMCA Newcomer Programs

How our immigrant services change lives (part two)

By Victoria Alvarez

The YMCA’s wide range of immigrant services aim to help newcomers effectively transition and feel settled in their new home. Whether individuals need information about their new community, or help finding the tools to begin their new lives, our services focus on helping people ensure that they feel welcome — at the Y, and in Canada.

This post, the second in a two-part series, takes a look at two more of our most vital immigrant services.

 Coordinated Language Assessment & Referral Centre (English + French)

When Riyan came to Canada from India, he was interested in learning the French language. “I decided to learn French,” he says, “not only because it’s a beautiful language with a great culture attached to it, but also because it opens doors to numerous opportunities here in Canada.”

Riyan visited the Y’s Coordinated Language Assessment & Referral Centre (CLARS) to get things started. With over 400,000 assessments since 1992, CLARS provides immigrants with English or French language assessments that measure speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Individuals must schedule an appointment beforehand, where a certified language assessor will determine their level of language skill. Clients are then referred to an appropriate partner organization for language training.

Riyan appreciated the flexibility of the CLARS classes offered, with weekend and weekday classes available, as well as the diverse range of lesson strategies. “Videos, songs, news programs, classroom sessions and group activities were all methods used during the learning process,” he says. “At the end of each level, you were tested to measure progress and then moved to the next level of learning.”

It’s important to the YMCA that our clients find the appropriate class suited to their needs and training that will facilitate their success. CLARS is a great option for newcomers because they are also given the choice to study full- or part-time.

Next Stop Canada (Pre-Arrival Online Info & Orientation for Adults + Youth)

Planning a move to a new country can be a source excitement, but also great amounts of stress. Next Stop Canada (NSC) helps dispel this fear of the unknown through a friendly exchange of information. Launched in 2016, NSC provides adults and youth with online, personalized settlement information prior to their Canadian arrival.

Sarah, 28, was quite stressed prior to her arrival from United Arab Emirates, was given a personalized settlement plan informing her of specific pre- and post-arrival services. “The information provided to me was very thorough, which made it easier for me to transition and lessened the stress,” she says. “The best part was that it helps new migrants feel at ease and supported even before landing in Canada. As someone who landed on my own, and without a friend or family member in Canada, it was overwhelming — but the support given made me feel that I was not going through everything on my own.”

Clients as young as 12 from all across the globe can access NSC services. Immigrants receive the support, mentorship, orientation, and information needed to feel confident upon their arrival to Canada.

In the first post in our series, we highlight two other Immigrant Services the Y offers: Newcomer Information Centres, and our Newcomer Youth Leadership Development program.