Arrival Advisor app helps newcomers get settled

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A new app providing settlement information and services to newcomers will also expose them to a Manitoba non-profit focused on workforce integration.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/01/2022 (267 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A new app providing settlement information and services to newcomers will also expose them to a Manitoba non-profit focused on workforce integration.

Manitoba Start, the province’s leader in newcomers’ career services, launched the Manitoba edition of Arrival Advisor Tuesday.

“(It’s) a response to meet our new digital reality,” said Dayna Hinkel, the manager of Manitoba Start.

Through Arrival Advisor, immigrants and refugees can fill out an anonymous questionnaire indicating which Canadian documents they have, their work and housing situations, resources they’re looking for and more. Users then receive tailored lists, broken down by subject, on how to access help and settle.

People who don’t want to take the questionnaire can browse the app’s topics, including employment and health care, or search nearby support agencies.

“It’s about finding that correct information and connecting,” Hinkel said.

Newcomers who use the free app will learn of Manitoba Start, she said. The non-profit conducts initial intake and needs assessments for the province and creates individualized settlement plans. Later, it works with immigrants and refugees to fit them in Manitoba’s job market.

“We’re labour market responsive,” Hinkel said.

There are “massive pros” to Arrival Advisor, according to Lori Wilkinson, a sociology and criminology professor at the University of Manitoba who specializes in immigration.

“I think right now, the release of this app is hugely important,” she said.

Some settlement agencies have closed their physical offices during the pandemic, making it difficult for immigrants and refugees to get support, Wilkinson said.

Most have cellphones and are adept at using them, she said. Some refugees use theirs as maps when fleeing their home countries.

“They share information, like where there’s checkpoints, where there’s places to plug in your cellphone,” Wilkinson said. “It’s amazing… at the refugee level, their innovative use of technology to help each other out.”

The app, created by Vancouver-based PeaceGeeks, is only available in English and French. It will be translated into another language by this spring, and two more in the following two years. Hinkel would not specify the languages, saying they’re still in development.

Most immigrants entering Canada for work purposes can speak English or French, or have a family member who can, said Wilkinson. But, many refugees can’t.

“Some communities, even this app might not be helpful to them,” Wilkinson said.

Ottawa funds the app, with support from the province.

“I would urge the government to maybe put some money into translation as soon as they can,” Wilkinson said. “I think the people who need it most are the ones who may not be able to read English or French.”

Most refugees came to Manitoba from Eritrea, Syria and Somalia in 2020. More recently, Afghanis have been prominent, though many who arrive can speak English or French because of their previous connections with the Canadian government.

Most immigrants to Manitoba come from India, China and the Philippines. It’s common for them to speak varying degrees of English, Wilkinson said.

Manitoba Start deals largely with provincial nominees, who may enter the province based on their skills and work experience.

Arrival Advisor is available on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store. PeaceGeeks first developed the app for British Columbia.

Arrival Advisor doesn’t track personal data.

gabrielle.piche@freepress.mb.ca

Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché
Reporter

Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

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