A group of Canadian newcomers were learning interview skills Wednesday at the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society.

The program called Pathways to Professions and Trades will help them get started in new careers in their new home.

“I’m looking for a job like bookkeeping or accounting something like that,” said Claire Ahn, who came from South Korea two years ago.

Their dreams are as diverse as the countries they come from ? there are members of the group from Morocco, Syria, France, South Korea, and the Philippines.

According to new numbers from the 2016 census, the number of immigrants in Canada has reached its highest level in nearly a century.

Twenty two per cent of Canadians report being or having been immigrants or permanent residents, nearly matching the high in 1921 of 22.3 per cent.

The report estimates immigrants could represent 30 per cent of all Canadians by 2036.

“We all know that because of baby boomers, of which I’m a part of that generation, we’re reaching the end of our working careers and in order to sustain where we are, and even grow a little bit, we need the influx of newcomers,” said Steven Lorenzo Baileys with the Intercultural Association of Victoria, a group that help newcomers adjust to their new life in Canada.

The report shows 60 per cent of immigrants between 2011 and 2016 came to Canada for economic reasons, followed by those who came to join family, and then refugees.

Soyoung Kim has her reasons for starting a new life here.

“First I came here [to] study English, my major was English in Korea, and then I met a guy,” Kim said.

Arcelyn Dalubatan came from the Philippines to join her mom who works in Victoria as a live-in caregiver.

The Philippines account for the largest percentage of new immigrants to Canada at 15.6 per cent, followed by people from India at 12.1 per cent, and China at 10.6 per cent.

Victoria has seen an increase in those newcomers along with those from other regions.

“African Caribbean community members, Latin American newcomers as well, we’ve seen a growth in those numbers over the last five to eight years,” said Baileys.

While everyone has their own reasons for coming, many in the program say they are enjoying life here.

“It’s peaceful and calm and good people,” said Ahn.

“I think I’m lucky because I’m in Victoria [plus] I like the weather,” said Laila Sulaiman, a biology technologist from Syria.

 

April Lawrence