For more than 60 years, the Catholic Centre for Ottawa (CCI) has been helping refugees and immigrants settle, integrate and thrive in Canada. One of our programs is Career Transitions, a joint adventure with World Skills.

This program provides focused training for unemployed or under-employed health care professionals. The program also connects employers and community partners with a talent pool of unique individuals with a variety of skills in health care.

Here’s the story of Marcus, a newcomer who went through the program.

Q. When and why did you come to Canada?

A. I moved to Canada more than three years ago (2014). My family moved from the U.S. to Ottawa for better jobs, health care and family growth. While my partner and I both had good jobs there, we did not have good health coverage. When my partner delivered our son, she only got three months of unpaid maternity leave! When she got offered a job in Canada, we accepted it gladly.

Q. How did you get involved with CCI and the Career Transitions program?

A. I found an ad posted at CCI’s building about Career Transitions program for internationally trained health professionals. I requested an information meeting with Arjanit (Employment counsellor) who sat with me and described how I could benefit from this program. Earlier, in 2016, I started working with the Arabic speaking newcomers as an accredited medical interpreter. The Bruyère Centre for Immigrants Building, the home of CCI and many other organizations who work with newcomers in Ottawa, was a spot where I interpreted for clients on a frequent basis.

Q. When did you join the clinic?

A. I joined the Ottawa Language Access (OLA) first as an accredited medical interpreter. OLA is one of the programs of Ottawa Newcomer Centre (ONC). I got to know their passionate team that works for the best of the local Ottawa community including the newcomers. When the clinic announced they were hiring a new multicultural health navigator for Arabic speaking newcomers, I applied without hesitation. i was excited at the thought of working with such a great organization and enthusiastic team. Supported with wealth of practical steps and one-on-one mentoring by the Career Transitions team, I landed my dream job.

Q. What’s the one thing people should know about refugees and immigrants who come to Canada?

A. Unless you are First Nation, the rest of Canadians moved here as newcomers. Newcomers are the driving force of Canada. Like the ancestors of many multi-generation Canadians, newcomers work tirelessly in their new community when they are given the tools, opportunities and respect. I found these were the values of the Career Transition team members. I would encourage my peers to join the program to get equipped with the tools of the trade in Canada.