FOURTEEN years ago, Jim Ogunnoiki started the Afro-Caribbean Job Fair out of his house.
Ogunnoiki had emigrated from Nigeria in 1976, graduated with a degree from the University of Winnipeg in 1979, and remembered how hard it was to find a job. He started the job fair to help others.
On Saturday, Ogunnoiki's job fair attracted close to 1,000 people in its newest digs, the Elmwood High School gymnasium.
"It was hard for me to get a job. I thought that I had to do something," said Ogunnoiki, past president of the Afro-Caribbean Association of Manitoba. He has been a security supervisor with Canada Post for many years.
Recruitment booths were represented by occupations such as the RCMP, Winnipeg Police Service, the Canadian Forces, Manitoba Justice and Sun Life Financial.
The job fair is not restricted to Afro-Caribbean Canadians; everyone may attend. One person who did was Iuliana Bagan, 22. She and her husband, who has a degree in mining engineering, are in the process of emigrating from Ukraine.
She has a master's degree in English language and literature (her favourite writer is the late German-American author Theodore Dreiser) and is looking for a job in interpreting and translation.
"It's difficult because you move and have to become acquainted with another city and lifestyle," she said.
Although she arrived less than two months ago, she already volunteers as a teaching assistant in an English-as-a-second-language program.
One of the booth personnel helping people find a job was Olayinka Brimoh, 42, representing Sun Life Financial. Brimoh emigrated from Nigeria nine years ago.
He has a master's of business administration degree and is a certified business planner with Sun Life Financial. People don't need a master's degree to work in insurance but do need to take some courses to become certified, he said.
Brimoh scoffed a all those spam emails claiming to be from Nigeria and saying the regime has been overthrown and the king's son has inherited $43 million but needs your bank account to transfer the money out of the country, in return for 40 per cent of the funds.
"It could be coming from next door. It's not coming from Nigeria. It's a stereotype," he said.
Brimoh owns a small farm with a 300-sow barn south of Winnipeg.