YWCA pioneers new settlement program

Matt Gardner
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The YWCA Prince Albert Regional Newcomer Centre is the focal point of a new program designed to help recent arrivals to the city make a smooth transition.

The YWCA Prince Albert Regional Newcomer Centre has hired a settlement counsellor for rural, remote, First Nations and Métis people as part of a new program funded by the Ministry of the Economy -- the first of its kind in Saskatchewan.

Funded by the provincial Ministry of the Economy, the program centres around the hiring of a settlement counsellor for rural, remote, First Nations and Métis people.

“It’s the first of its kind in Saskatchewan, and I believe they’re looking at doing more. But … we’re kind of the first ones out of the gate with it,” Regional Newcomer Centre manager Amanda Parenteau said.

Parenteau is the manager of the new program and the centre has hired Mitchell Ryan as the settlement counsellor.

Ryan is currently working at the centre and is available to work one-on-one with clients.

The target audience for the settlement counsellor is anyone moving to Prince Albert from within Canada.

Through a catch-all approach, the program aims to provide assistance in a wide range of areas for newcomers, from employment to education to finding accommodations and resources.

“If somebody’s coming from La Ronge and they’ve never been in Prince Albert, it can be very overwhelming,” Parenteau said. “So we’re here to help make that transition easier.”

New residents interested in working with the settlement counsellor can gain access to the program either through a drop-in visit to the Regional Newcomer Centre or a referral from community agencies.

In order to qualify for the program, potential beneficaries must be at least 18 years old and have lived in Prince Albert for six months or less.

“Upon the referral or upon the drop-in, a client would sit down with the settlement counsellor and do a needs assessment, because everybody coming in is going to have a different need when they’re moving into a community,” Parenteau said.

If somebody’s coming from La Ronge and they’ve never been in Prince Albert, it can be very overwhelming ... We’re here to help make that transition easier. Amanda Parenteau

“They may need help finding housing. They might have housing in place but need a job. Everybody’s different, so the needs assessment will give the settlement counsellor an idea of where to start and how to create a settlement plan for that individual or family in order to make their transition to Prince Albert successful.”

Other aspects of the program might include finding financial support, determining what school to enrol their children in or learning about the public transit system.

Thus far, the settlement counsellor program has helped individuals from northern Saskatchewan as well as outside the province.

“It’s been starting slowly, which is good. Slow is a good start,” Parenteau said. “But we want to help people and we really believe strongly that this program is an excellent program for Prince Albert, and we’re ready to take it on.”

Besides individuals and families, Parenteau noted that employers and other organizations could also benefit from the program.

“If any community group or employers want more information, we can actually go out and do a presentation on the program for them,” she said.

Anyone interested in taking advantage of the settlement counsellor program or learning more information is invited to contact Ryan or assistant manager Jocelyn Balzer at the Regional Newcomer Centre by calling 306-765-2530.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Ministry of the Economy, First Nations

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Canada, La Ronge Northern Saskatchewan

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