The Calgary Herald
October 29, 2008

Alex Frazer-Harrison
For The Calgary Herald

For newcomers to Canada, navigating the complexities of Canadian culture, the language and the laws can be a challenge. For those seeking to establish careers, the challenges only increase.

That’s why Youth in Motion established the New Horizons Mentoring Program, an initiative to give newcomers access to support and mentoring as they look for jobs and careers.

“We’ve been running the program since 2003, but we’d always run it for women, and this year for the first time we’re offering the program to men, also,” says project manager Lynn Berry.

Berry says the program is in two parts: first, participants attend a series of monthly workshops covering job-preparation topics such as informational interviewing and how to dress for the Canadian workplace. Then, starting in the new year, a four-month mentorship program begins, in which participants are paired with professionals who act as sounding boards for concerns and questions the “mentees” may have.

“(The mentors) provide that ear and gives them the opportunity to ask questions,” says Berry, adding the mentors can sometimes make the mentees aware of issues that aren’t immediately evident.

“For instance, going into a team meeting, in many cultures the boss talks and you don’t ever contradict the boss or point out any flaws in reasoning. In Canada, in our team meetings we expect people to participate and share their knowledge.”

Programs like New Horizons are vital to helping address the ongoing labour issues faced by many Calgary companies — while also acknowledging the fact we’re seeing increasingly diverse workforces, says Sharon Blackwell, spokesperson for Alberta Employment and Immigration.

“With the immigrant population increasing in Calgary, it’s one of the solutions to the workforce shortages and it’s an important part of our business to make sure new Canadians can get quickly off to work, integrate (their) international education and training, and contribute to the workforce and really hone up their Canadian work experience,” Blackwell says.

One way the province is helping in this regard is through the International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS), which examines the education of those who were educated abroadd and compares this to Canadian standards. “It’s one of the ways we can help people who’ve been educated overseas, where they can have a professional body look at what they’ve learned and align this with Canadian equivalents,” says Blackwell.

The province has also opened health career centres for immigrants, to help them find work in that field.

Berry says New Horizons benefits the mentors as much as the mentees.

“Mentors sign up thinking they’ll just help this person, but they’re learning so much about other cultures, and making relationships,” she says. “Once you get to know people and understand where they’re coming from, it becomes all the more interesting.”

For more information on the New Horizons Mentoring Program, e-mail

For information on IQAS and other provincial employment resources for immigrants, visit
© The Calgary Herald 2008

Reference: The Calgary Herald