Two months ago, I sat in my office at the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce and listened to a mom and her child sing the Canadian national anthem. As newcomers to the region, they were waiting to see a settlement worker at Eastman Immigrant Services. Their voices combined together in this playful, familiar melody, and brought a reflective smile to my face.
My biggest surprise when first hearing about the position of Executive Director at the Steinbach Chamber was the connection with Eastman Immigrant Services.
“What is this ‘ice’ thing you keep mentioning,” I asked the Chamber President while we enjoyed a cup of coffee at a fine Steinbach establishment.
“Eastman Immigrant Services,” he replied. “The Chamber runs EIS (ice!) as one of their programs. We work with newcomers to this region.”
In many ways, this news was one of the key pieces that tipped the scales in favour of taking on the E.D. role. I was excited about the growth of the Chamber over the past number of years, but knowing how I could be part of influencing the lives of newcomers was significant to me in pursuing this position.
EIS aims to assist new immigrants settling in Southeastern Manitoba. The program works to make initial settlement a rewarding experience for newcomers, including orientation services, special events, access to community resources, English training, career coaching and more.
The fact that EIS is a Chamber program continues to surprise those I have met with over the past couple of months, including some Chamber members. Perhaps this is one of the best kept secrets of the Steinbach Chamber’s success. All Steinbach Chamber of Commerce members are part of this program, making all of us a part of something significantly larger than our own business.
Not only do newcomers help provide a quality workforce, they also enhance the community. EIS plays a huge role in making the Steinbach region great, and is another reason why your Chamber membership makes a difference in our community. Newcomers bring fresh ideas, new cultural flair, and an unfiltered appreciation for their new home country of Canada.
And remember, it wasn’t that long ago that we all were newcomers to this country.
“O Canada, our home and native land…”