Sandra Cerdeline arrived from Cameroon around ten years ago and remembers her early days as a newcomer: she felt she didn’t have all the information or resources she would have needed at the time. Today, as General Manager of Complexe X Immigration, an organization based in Saint-Constant in the Montérégie region, she oversees a project whose mission is to help temporary foreign agricultural workers gain access to information and break their isolation.
Her project, part of the Migrant Worker Support Program funded by the Government of Canada and coordinated by Immigrant Québec, includes face-to-face information sessions on the farms and virtual sessions, one-off activities such as a bike giveaway and a corn roast, and, above all, an outdoor soccer league that brings together hundreds of people every Sunday.
InfoTET: What motivated you to start this project to support temporary foreign workers at Complexe X Immigration?
SC: I’ve been with Complexe X Immigration for eight months now, and the idea was to let my creativity flow. When this Immigrant Québec project came across my desk, it was a calling for me. I’m an immigrant and, frankly, I would have liked to have benefited from as many resources when I arrived here ten years ago, but unfortunately, there wasn’t all that openness. I then discovered a hidden side: solitude. As soon as I heard about this project for temporary foreign workers, I said to myself that this was my chance to give something back.
InfoTET: Why did you choose soccer as a rallying point for TET?
SC: I’m from Africa and soccer is our sport. So I said to myself: what could be more beautiful than to allow people to benefit from it and to receive, at the end, a trophy before returning home? I can feel the importance of that. When my brothers came home with a medal, it was a week of celebration!
I’ve got a field coordinator, I’ve got volunteers on the field, but I’ve never missed a single soccer game. I don’t think I have a minute to myself because everyone comes to see me. I’ve become a bit like the godmother of soccer!
InfoTET: What has been your most memorable moment so far during the project?
SC: I’d say it’s mainly the emotion that it reveals in TFW. Every time I finish an information session, I feel like there’s been a transfer of energy. These people who, after a session, come up to me and hug me and say “I’ve been coming to work and going back to my country for 18 years, but I hadn’t yet discovered this love we have with you. Because you’re there for us. When you talk to us, it comes from the bottom of your heart, and what you say is true.” With the guide, I direct them, circle the numbers and tell them to call and find out. That’s what touches me the most: knowing that the message is understood.
The soccer league has grown from 6 teams at the start of the project to 32 today. On June 4, 2023, Complexe X Immigration launched the soccer season and handed over some 30 bikes refurbished by Cyclo Nord-Sud. The tournament's grand finale will be held on September 10.
InfoTET: What message would you like to convey at the information sessions?SC: I’m talking about the opportunity we’ve had thanks to Immigrant Québec and the Canadian government to be able to support them in what they do on a daily basis. I tell them to be open, to let themselves go. Through training, I help them understand that submission doesn’t exist in Quebec, that they have rights, and that there are organizations available to help them, available to accompany them. I make them understand that this is a godsend and that they have to seize this opportunity because not everyone has had it. I use a lot of patience in communication, because there’s already a language barrier. You can’t rush them. I tell them that if they haven’t understood everything I’ve told them, they can join me on Sundays at our HQ, the soccer field. The project was funded by the Government of Canada.