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East Central Newcomer Welcome Centre helps with transition of newcomers to Canada

Aims to help newcomers, immigrants and refugees
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The East Central Newcomer Welcome Centre provides free settlement services to newcomers in east central Saskatchewan. Members of the agency are (left) Babatunde Olaleye, Shanley Allard, Freda Balan, Leah Lutz, Anshu Raina, Scott Sharpe, Edith Montesclaros, Poonam Kaur and Jeisel Tolentino.

MOOSOMIN - The East Central Newcomer Welcome Centre aims to help newcomers, immigrants and refugees in East Central Saskatchewan and works with many newcomers in the Moosomin area.

By providing services and information to newcomers, the organization strives to make the transition of individuals who are new to Canada, a welcoming and helpful experience.  

Executive director of the agency, Edith Montesclaros said the main purpose of the agency is assist newcomers in connecting with the community.

“There’s a history of newcomers spending two years in one small community, then they leave for a bigger city because they claim that bigger cities have more to offer, but there are so many things that smaller communities can offer to newcomers,” she said.

“We want for them to be retained in our region because that’s what we really want, is for them to stay. We really want them to stay because they can contribute to a lot of things and we know that because they have so many talents.” 

Montesclaros said it is important for the organization to help new Canadians connect with the community so that they feel they are welcomed. 

“For example, someone who may be going through depression because of the winter, long nights and having no family members around, might make them feel isolated. So we try to provide the services to alleviate some of those challenges, and provide information to them, as it’s the most important thing. It’s sometimes difficult to find information when you don’t know what you’re looking for.”

The program officially started in 2018, but Edith said the settlement services offered by the government to help immigrants, refugees and non-permanent residents, have been going on since 2008. 

People who can benefit from the organization may include immigrants, refugees, temporary workers, international students and permanent residents in Canada. 

Montesclaros said there is no limit to how long individuals can use the services that are offered from East Central Newcomer Welcome Centre.

“Years ago we were told it should be two to five years, but we had this gentleman who was 83 years old. He came to us, he just discovered he was just a permanent resident and not a Canadian citizen, so we helped him,” she said.

“He’s been here for more than 50 years and thought he was a permanent resident, who would help him? Service Canada couldn’t help him so we helped him because he needed it. So whoever needs help, we’re here. If a newcomer is independent we don’t have a problem if they do their own thing, but if someone needs help we’re here to help them for as long as they need. To me, that’s my take on the service.”

Between the 10 staff members, Montesclaros said individuals can communicate with newcomers through a total of 10 languages. Some languages include Filipino, Cebuano, Ukrainian, Russian, a Nigerian dialect of English, Punjabi and more.

 Many services offered

Montesclaros said the clientele the agency usually receives, are referred by family members who are already present in the community. However, she hopes to expand awareness of the agency, so that more people can benefit from its services.

“People who come here for help have different statuses, the most common status we have now is permanent resident through the family unification, meaning that a permanent resident who’s already here, decided to sponsor their family members like a spouse, the children or the parents, so that’s the family reunification program.”

The non-profit agency offers its services to a variety of different people, Montesclaros said.

“People are referred through the college, like international students of the college. The college usually refers their students to us and we provide services to them. At one point, Parkland College had the largest number of international students referred to us. This was pre-Covid, but after Covid the numbers got affected because of restrictions for international students to attend in-person classes.”

“We also have temporary workers who were hired by the hospitality sector, that includes Tim Hortons, McDonald’s, and they were hired directly or from recruiters to come here. Those individuals usually hear about us and would come to our office if they need something,” she said.

“We have permanent residents, naturalized citizens, non-permanent residents which include international students and temporary workers, so that’s our target population.” 

Because the East Central Newcomer Welcome Centre Inc. is a non-profit organization, its services are free of charge. Children, parents and families can benefit from the services that assist them in adapting to the community.

Montesclaros said the agency’s newest program, the Local Immigration Partnership, connects stakeholders and people in the community to work together. 

“Our new program targets stakeholders and volunteers in the community, in trying to make our region a welcoming place. Let’s face it no community is perfect, so they have these 17 characteristics of a welcoming community and we haven’t met at least half of those characteristics,” she said.

“But it has to be identified by the immigrants, so stakeholders are brought at the table and we try to figure out how to develop a welcoming community for newcomers. I

t’s all about the newcomers and stakeholders, so we discuss what can we do about it, is it fixable or solvable, how can we adjust those challenges. It has to be the community who decides what’s prioritized and how are we going to go about it, if it’s really fixable and stuff like that, but we need to have a discussion on it.”

Another program the agency offers—The Settlement Worker in Schools Program (SWIS)—is directed for helping parents and students from two school boards in the East Central region.

“We have an agreement with Good Spirit School Division and Christ the Teacher School Division, so we cover all of their schools and community needs,” Montesclaros said.

“We help students and families because sometimes the students are referred to us by the school, and it’s actually the parents who need help, so we help the parents as well.”

“We’ve been around for years but of course not everyone has heard about us, that’s why we’ve been trying to promote our services because we’re here to help. Our services are at no cost, we’re funded by the government. Our volunteers have a good heart because they try and help people with their settlement and other things that are needed of assistance.”

Montesclaros said she and her team are proud to be part of an organization that helps newcomers connect within their communities.

“We always talk about it. We’re just so proud, especially when we started working with someone and they started out as a temporary resident, and then become a citizen. We’re just so proud when they leave and they’re so happy because they had their oath taking for Canadian citizenship.”

“You’re just so satisfied that you have provided services to individuals and they finally got their main objective of becoming a citizen.”

The East Central Newcomer Welcome Centre Inc. offers its services within 150 km radius around Yorkton. The agency’s office is located at Unit H, 132 Broadway Street West in Yorkton. They can be reached at 1 (306) 783-2777, or at, along with their website: