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“For many newcomers and immigrants, all they need is an opportunity to start. And for employers who support diversity in the workplace, all they need is a chance to connect.” — EOE Victoria

Presented by Construction Foundation of British Columbia (CFBC) and Here In Canada, the Employment Opportunity Exchange (EOE) is an annual event that gathers employers, newcomers, refugees, and immigrants in one space, to understand and discuss job-seeker needs and assets. This is to create meaningful and sustainable job opportunities, which are not often extended to newcomer and immigrant communities. EOE is a new kind of employment event that provides an opportunity to build relationships as well as participate in facilitated discussions to share experiences, and address barriers and misconceptions. It has been designed to facilitate an accessible and inclusive exchange between newcomers to Canada and prospective employers.

Since 2018, through the collaboration of different organisations, the EOE has expanded its reach to different audiences. It has allowed us to support people of various backgrounds to find and develop what they need to be employed. Moreover, employers are also enlightened on the current realities of the labour market in relation to newcomer and immigrant communities. Through this event, collaboration between employers and the community is made possible, working from a commitment to foster a more welcoming and inclusive job market.

Hosted on the unceded Coast Salish Territory of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ nations, this year’s virtual event includes a Panel Discussion, Engagement Tables, and small group Q & A sessions with employers. The panel discussion features newcomer and immigrant panelists sharing their employment experiences, e.g. the struggle to find a job in their new community and the existing barriers in the labour market in Victoria. This moderated discussion and subsequent facilitated Engagement Tables are spaces for the community to voice their experiences, and for employers to understand more the realities for newcomer-immigrant job seekers and work on how they can support and accommodate them. This is great to way to connect and learn more about one another’s needs and expectations. This year’s virtual event will end with opportunities for job seekers to have small group, and, if desired, one-on-one informational sessions with local employers actively hiring.

“It is important to identify the difference between lacking competence and lacking confidence. Most of the time, we are competent enough for the job position, but frequently uncertain about our capacity.” —Mariana Franco

The first EOE was held in November 2018, in partnership with Your Entrepreneurial Society (YES) Victoria and Comfort Inn and Suites. Read participant Lara Costa’s article entitled, Employment Opportunity Exchange: Finding Myself Before Being Found. Her story shares the details of the event, as well as testimonials from both job seekers and employers who found the exchange worthwhile and unlike any other.

In May 2019, a second EOE was organized, in response to the positive reviews from previous participants. YES Victoria and Comfort Inn and Suites partnered again with us in creating a space for newcomers, immigrants, and local businesses to connect and engage. Read Mariana Franco’s article on her experience as a panelist and newcomer here: To Get A Job in Canada, Be Willing to Learn.

“I participated in the Employment Opportunity Exchange and found the experience incredibly rewarding. Made multiple connections and found that the characteristics of an entrepreneur are very similar to those of people starting a new life in a new country.” — Calen McNeil of Big Wheel Burger, one of the participating employers in 2019

One of the prevailing challenges that we found in our EOE discussions was the barriers faced by many international post-graduate students breaking into the Canadian labour market. Royal Roads Afro Heritage Association, now Black Speaks Victoria, thought that perhaps we could create a student-specific EOE event that will help address this problem. The idea gave birth to an EOE offshoot called EOE on Campus. Prior to organizing the event, a Table Talk was hosted in September 2019. The table talk was a focus group discussion that explored the different barriers that lead to the fact that many international students fail to secure paid internships or part-time jobs that correspond to their academic qualifications. The main EOE on Campus event has not been scheduled yet with the current Covid situation, but we are already envisioning a great event coming out of the table talk. You can find Ruth Nakalyowa’s article about it here: EOE on Campus: Bridging the Gap Between Employers and International Students.

The EOE continues to provide opportunities for newcomer and immigrant communities to connect and engage with different employers. This year, EOE will be done differently, considering the pandemic restrictions. To make it more engaging and welcoming, EOE 2020 will be part of a bigger event called the Welcome Exchange.

The Welcome Exchange initiative is a community comprised of people and organizations who are committed to helping newcomers to Canada as they build employment connections and adapt to their respective home community through specialized services. It includes Cultural Connection Workshops, connecting newcomers and immigrants to local First Nations; Welcome Exchange Orientation sessions; and the first Welcome Exchange EOE.

The program kicked off with a beading workshop facilitated by local First Nations artist Sarah Underwood. Read more about it here. The EOE follows next, happening virtually on Tuesday, November 17, 2020. This is a special virtual edition for Permanent Residents and other eligible participants in the Victoria, Nanaimo, Comox/Courtney, B.C. areas. See below for complete list of eligibility requirements.

We are working on an amazing online programme for you, so stay tuned for details! Make sure to follow the EOE 2020 Facebook event page to be updated.

If you’re interested in participating, please contact Neha at neha@heremagazine.ca and she’ll guide you through the process.

Or REGISTER NOW via Welcome Exchange page.

Eligible participants:
– Permanent Residents of Canada located in Victoria, Nanaimo, Comox/Courtney, B.C.
– Protected persons as defined in section 95 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
– Individuals who have been selected, in Victoria, Nanaimo or Comox/Courtney, to become permanent residents (pending verifications) and who have been informed, by a letter from the Department.
– Convention refugees and protected persons outside Canada who have been selected for resettlement in Canada by the Department.
– Live-in Caregivers: Temporary foreign workers who hold or received approval of a work permit under section 112 or received initial approval for permanent residence under section 113 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) are eligible for all settlement services with the exception of language training.

 

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