Gate21 is a resource for newcomers to Canada with the goal of ensuring that skilled immigrants can find meaningful and timely employment. Stephen Chase is the founder of this Toronto based business and we talked with him to learn more about Gate21 and what all newcomers should keep in mind while adapting to a new career and life in Canada.
Can you give us some examples of the services you provide and how they’ve helped newcomers in the past?
I have worked both with organizations that service newcomers and individuals. For organizations, I have developed, promoted and hosted informational webinars, provided strategic counsel, and analyzed and evaluated social media activity. For individuals, what I provide is a blend between an employment counsellor, a life coach and a connector to additional supports to meet an individual’s specific needs. For people who were looking to immigrate to Canada I helped provide them with a realistic picture of what they may experience as a newcomer which enabled them to make a more informed decision about the realities that come along with taking that step. For people that are in Canada I helped sort through the maze of programs and directions that are available and this led them to finding the type of work they desired very quickly upon arrival.
What motivated you to create Gate21? Do you think there are any resources comparable to the services you provide?
Changing times was the motivation for creating Gate21. At the point when I created Gate21 I saw more and more private sector social entrepreneurial ventures being established and thought why can’t this work in the immigration and integration realm. On the organizational side while there are consulting groups that provide a wide range of services from program evaluation, my expertise is in developing mutually beneficial partnerships and relationships with longer term, greater impact outcomes in mind. My clients are my funders which means my accountability, responsibility lies solely to their satisfaction and success.
Your website states: “Achieving success in Canada for immigrants has become increasingly difficult.” What factors do you feel are responsible for this? What are the most important steps someone can take to better prepare themselves for success in Canada today?
This question requires many articles to cover due to the complexity of the issues, but one of the key factors is increased professional regulations, which is not inherently bad, but for immigrants this reality of added layers of career and education constraints/requirements on top of the already daunting social experience that comes along with moving to a new country and re-establishing a life. Based on my experience and research findings part of the answer is pre-arrival preparation. Before departing for a new life in Canada connect with someone who can support you, ideally a professional because the experience and knowledge they offer along with perhaps more objective information than can come from informal sources. Also, make an effort to develop what is called intercultural communication skills or cultural awareness specifically for the workplace. One other equally important action people can take is to be aware of their mental wellbeing. So many newcomers encounter challenging times as they struggle to re-establish their career and life in Canada, and ensuring you take good care of your mental health, just as you should for all the other aspects of one’s physical health, will help you to weather the tougher times that come along with life in general, but also as a newcomer to Canada.
“Research has shown that immigrants that access services delivered by immigrant serving agencies have better outcomes than those who do not” – Stephen Chase, Gate21
What are some of the biggest challenges that you find newcomers encounter? Are there any challenges that immigrants are surprised by or don’t expect?
The increase in amount of information that’s available to people before they arrive is helping to lessen the surprises in general, but it’s much like reading how to do something that you’ve never done before like play a musical instrument. Until you pick up that instrument and begin to try to play you can’t fully know what that experience will actually be like. I believe the cultural differences again particularly in the workplace represent one of the bigger challenges and that’s because of everyone’s cultural norms, beliefs and values, which guide so much of our behaviours. These cognitive processes mostly run in the background of the mind and we’re less aware about the impact these have on us.
Gate21 works closely with immigrant serving agencies (ISAs). What role do ISAs play for newcomers?
Research has shown that immigrants that access services delivered by ISAs have better outcomes than those who do not, so ISAs play a critical role for newcomers. I’ve been fortunate to work with a tremendous organization that support immigrants both in Canada and the US. Through that experience I learned in the US there are very few supports and ISAs than what exists here in Canada. Although the immigration systems in the two countries are vastly different in structure, Canada’s highly skilled and professional immigrant serving agencies, which have a broad array of effective programming, are a tremendous resource for those who choose to immigrate to Canada. Program options include pre-arrival services, occupational specific language training, bridging programs, mentoring, cultural awareness skill development, micro-loans and much more. Depending on where you live there can be a lot of supports available to choose from which can make it challenging to determine which one you should access. In smaller centers the opposite is often true. Research has shown those that engage with ISAs fair better than those who do not, so organizations, including governmental, that support newcomers are central to the successes of Canada’s immigration.
Is there anything else you’d like to talk about that hasn’t been covered?
I’ve worked with some of the leading organizations that help newcomers and I always advocate the importance of broadcasting successes as well as cautionary experiences. It is for this reason precisely that I see the work of New Canadians TV to be a critical component to the mix that is required to ensure the success of newcomers to Canada.