What's New? March 2014
In this issue: 100 days in Canada, Next arrivals, Employment update, Tibetan New Year fun, Be a mentor, Housing needs, Volunteer opportunities
This issue is longer than usual because we did not publish last month.
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100 days since the first group of Tibetans arrived in Canada
Adapted from content provided by Project Tibet Society, TRPO’s parent organization that manages the overall program to settle 1,000 Tibetans in Canada.
Seventeen stateless Tibetans became new Canadians when they passed through the doors at Toronto's Pearson Airport last November 29th. On arrival in Ottawa a few hours later, Tenzin Tsangyang, commented that the welcome was so warm he didn’t even feel the cold outside.
Since then, more than 60 Tibetans from Arunachal Pradesh have passed through the doors of Pearson Airport to settle in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Victoria, Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast. And wherever they've landed, there's always been a special welcome from volunteers who have stepped forward to provide support for the newcomers’ early days in Canada.
Today, just over 100 days since the first arrivals landed in Toronto, most of the newcomers are gainfully employed in their communities. This is a remarkable success and no small feat.
The Tibetan resettlement effort is unique in that it receives no public funding. Everything accomplished so far is the result of volunteers and donors in local communities. With the second round of Citizenship and Immigration interviews scheduled for later this month, your support is needed more than ever. Your gifts of time, goods, services and money are what make it possible for the Tibetans to start their new lives. I want to help!
We will receive our first family in April -- the father is already here, and will be joined by his wife (a nurse's aid) and three children -- a daughter 18, and sons 17 and 13. There will also be two single men, 23 and 25, with some experience in the hotel and spa sector. And 7 women, aged 22 to 26, one with experience in hotel management, 4 beauticians, a teacher and a waitress.
Special Appeal! We are making a special appeal to help us find jobs. All our newcomers have found work of some sort, thanks to several local employers, but most of this work is temporary, with variable income and hours per week. Please contact us if you can help in any way to transition our hardworking newcomers to more stable employment!
Imagine heading out to drop off your resume at a workplace in -20 degree C weather. That is exactly what members of our first group of Tibetans had to do to find work in Ottawa during their first three months – and they met with some success. With previous experience in the hotel industry, all members of Mag 11 (short for Magnificent 11) have been able to find work in restaurants, hotels and residences. In February, eight Tibetans attended their first Canadian job fair hosted by YMCA Ottawa. Prior to the job fair, staff from the Y met with the Tibetans to share information about what they might expect at a Canadian job fair and how to network.
Making connections with others is very important – and we would like to thank the many individuals who have provided job leads or opened a door for an employment opportunity.
While some struggle with the challenges of balancing part-time work or trying to find other work while they work shifts, our recent arrivals from Tibet recognize the importance of gaining Canadian workplace experience.
Securing jobs for the current and upcoming group of Tibetans is a priority for TRPO. If you would like to help us work to secure meaningful employment opportunities, consider the following options:
Become an Employment Mentor – working with 2 or 3 Tibetans, you will act as a valuable point of contact, and provide guidance and support as the Tibetans explore job opportunities
Send us Job Leads - if you know of an employment opportunity, send us information about the company or introduce a Tibetan to the application process.
Tibetan New Year celebrated with enthusiasm
On February 21, about 110 TRPO supporters joined the first eleven Tibetan arrivals in a celebration of Losar, the Tibetan New Year. The Unitarian Church provided a welcoming venue for Tibetan wares, food, music, dance, and fellowship. A festive atmosphere where Canadians and Tibetans, board members and supporters, learned more about each other. Following a feast of momos and accompaniments, the Tibetans treated their guests to a colourful and beautifully choreographed traditional dance. Small children darting about in traditional dress, a poignant rendition of a Tibetan song by Tenzin Chonzom and the staging of a typical family on Losar morning all contributed to a strong sense of community. The evening was organized by the Tibetan Resettlement Project Ottawa, Ottawa Friends of Tibet and the Ottawa Palyul Sangha with all proceeds going to our project. Our deepest thanks to the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa for offering their worship hall and meeting room for this event.
Dawa Norbu writes on behalf of the Tibetans:
“On behalf of Group of 11, I would like to extend our heartiest thanks toTRPO, OFT, Payul Sangha and all members and individual who were involved directly or indirectly to make this event a successful Losar event last night.
We have less in words and actions to express our gratitude but more in silence and prayers for all your unconditional, undying and magnificent supports for us and for our brother and sister those who are yet to come to their new home.
This Losar event has not just provided us moments of togetherness with connected peoples but also got a great chance to chat and meet many new peoples who wants to know more about us and everything.”
Be a Mentor
Would you consider becoming a mentor for one of the Tibetans arriving next month? As a mentor, you have the support of a team that assists one another and provides backup as needed. Mentors help newcomers to meet their settlement needs during their first year in Canada, acting as a personal link to each single person or family, providing information on how to navigate Canadian culture, discussing work opportunities with the newcomers, and building confidence through communication. Mentors meet the settlers on arrival, and ensure that orientation meets their needs, that the move to permanent housing is successful, that they develop links with the local community, and that they are getting the services they need from the Catholic Centre for Immigrants (applications, registrations, enrollments, etc.) and from TRPO (interpreter, medical care, school costs, etc.).
“I was fortunate to be able to act as a mentor to Tsechu Dolma since her arrival in Ottawa in late November 2013. Being a mentor to her has meant becoming her friend: suggesting places to apply for work, lending her a book about Canadian geography, and checking in by phone and email for a few hours a week. In general, I offer my perspectives, my interest and my admiration for her as she learns about her new country and makes a new life here in Ottawa. I would encourage anyone who has time to offer and interest in Tibet to consider volunteering as a mentor.” (Mentor Cheryl Sutherland)
“My husband Warren and I have been mentors for Dawa Norbu. We have taken him to the Canadian Museum of History, on an exploration of Ottawa imported clothing shops to get a sense of what the market for these kinds of items is, and to an orientation seminar about renting Byward Market stalls. We are keen to mentor again!” (Mentor Ann Taylor)
Housing needed for next arrivals
We are now looking for three month’s temporary accommodation for the next arrivals expected in April and August. If you can be a host family or have a spare apartment, this would be a substantial contribution because housing is our biggest cost. Call Dawa Ghoso at 613-716-9527 or email@example.com
We urgently need four dynamic volunteers to fill the following key positions:
Housing Lead – works with a small committee on all matters pertaining to housing needs for Tibetan newcomers
Mentor Lead - works with a group of mentors to assist Tibetan newcomers with their settlement in Ottawa
Fundraising Lead – works with the Board and event coordinators on the planning, managing and executing fundraising activities
Treasurer - works with the bookkeeper and advisors on issuing financial policies and agreements, budgeting, overall cost estimates, banking, collection and disbursing of funds, and reporting.