Breaking the isolation of temporary foreign workers is not easy. And this reality is even more important in the context of a pandemic with the health measures in place. Several organizations have therefore decided to organize activities to tackle this problem. These activities are funded with support from the Government of Canada, through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
Hike to Mount Pinnacle. Walk in the Coaticook Gorge Park. Fishing trip to the Nature Discovery Park. Visit to the Ayers Cliff rodeo. Collective cooking workshops. Soccer games. So many activities offered over the past few months as part of the “Ensemble on sème” project. An initiative that will have enabled the Actions interculturelles de développement et d’éducation (AIDE) organization to reach more than 80 workers in several farms located around Coaticook, in the Eastern Townships.
In addition to creating links between these newcomers, these various activities have also helped to promote their integration into their host community, by stimulating contact with the local population, notes the organization. In this regard, the “ Ensemble on sème ” project received interesting media coverage. For example, the newspaper L’Écho de Compton published a special edition completely in Spanish that presented the initiative and its activities. Articles that have convinced other farm owners to encourage their temporary foreign workers to turn to the organization. Several local actors, municipalities, deputies or stakeholders from community organizations, have also contributed to this project, which continues until December 15.
These field meetings also allowed the team to intervene with the workers and offer them personalized follow-up. Moreover, several participants said that they appreciated the fact that the speakers spoke both French and Spanish, thereby promoting ties between the workers and their environment. In addition, by introducing them to the region, the team from the AIDE organization was trying to increase the autonomy of the workers. In addition, seven bicycles were donated to help temporary agricultural workers get around.
In addition, the organization has also set up various communication tools, such as information sessions or informative videos, addressing practical issues, and intended for teams of temporary foreign agricultural workers as well as farm owners. So many activities that continue to unfold in the second phase of this project announced earlier this year.
Meeting around the football
In Shawinigan, it is through sport that we have tried to create links with the community. Residents of this Mauricie municipality faced temporary agricultural workers from the region for a friendly soccer match. Participants and spectators were then able to regain their strength over a typical Quebec meal. An initiative led by the Newcomer Reception Service (SANA) in Shawinigan, which has orchestrated various activities for this clientele in recent months.
Although SANA did not extend its services to temporary foreign workers beyond June 30, the first phase of the project funded by the Government of Canada, the team still planned to organize other matches of the kind beyond beyond this date. Similarly, the organization draws a positive assessment of its experience, which allowed it to approach a clientele of temporary foreign workers with whom the organization had had very little contact before.
This support will also have enabled stakeholders to create various very practical tools for this type of worker, such as a poster in Spanish illustrating how the ATM works and hung directly at the National Bank branch in Shawinigan. In addition to going to certain farms to meet the workers, the SANA also distributed around a hundred water bottles and caps to the teams deployed on the farms.
Among the good moves of the organization, the creation of a geographical map of the city presenting different businesses frequented by these newcomers, such as the grocery store, the pharmacy, the thrift store or the post office. The team has also designed a small French-Spanish lexicon presenting a few useful words in the context of their work and outside the farm. Practice !
Rebuild your network
For its part, the Bordeaux-Cartierville Immigrant Community Support Center (CACI) has also put on the schedule various activities promoting encounters. This has made it possible to forge lasting friendships between workers from different workplaces and members of the host society, observes the organization.
For example, the team took advantage of the organization of a conference to then invite the participants to a networking activity. In total, about fifty temporary foreign workers were able to learn about the legal issues surrounding the work permit, but also to share their experience and build relationships.
This activity was all the more interesting as the temporary workers affected worked in different sectors of the economy, for the vast majority outside the agricultural sector. It would therefore have been difficult for them to meet without these concerted activities. The participants were also invited to picnic on a river boat sailing on the St. Lawrence River. A family activity that was particularly appreciated by these foreign workers.
The support offered to temporary foreign workers by the CACI took the form of various forms, including information sessions, legal aid and translation and interpretation services. In the coming months, this offer will also be enhanced, as the team plans to support 450 new temporary foreign workers on the issue of work permits, in addition to offering them psychosocial support or support in relation to
Also on the menu: the organization of a resource fair for this clientele which will bring together immigration consultants as well as psychologists and representatives of the health system. The CACI also prepares various social and cultural activities, including a Christmas party. A project that will end on December 15th.