Stories to Inspire

Joy Escalera, manager of settlement services at Westman Immigrant Services, was the recipient of this year’s Kim Thomas Award at the AGM.

The Kim Thomas Award is given to a community member or CFS staff member who works diligently within the newcomer and refugee community in the area of community engagement and creating connections with CFS.

“It has been an honour that our work at Westman Immigrant Services is recognized. Thank you very much,” said Escalera in accepting the award. Several staff members also attended the AGM to see Escalera receive the award, along with Arlene Stewart, CEO of CFS of Western Manitoba.

Joy Escalera, left, with Arlene Stewart, CEO of CFS of Western Manitoba.

Escalera, who came to Canada from the Philippines in 2010 with her family, began working at the immigrant services office in Brandon as a receptionist. But with her experience in the Philippines working as a clinician in various mental health facilities, and her work toward her master of science in clinical psychology, she soon moved to a part-time settlement assistant position and then to family program facilitator. Now, as the manager of settlement services,

Escalera and her colleagues work to support refugees and newcomer families as they settle in Canada.
“We all know that being a parent is not easy. Especially when you are a new immigrant. A lot of newcomers struggle with parenting, especially if they do not know the laws and practices,” said Escalera. She said Westman Immigrant services is committed to providing that information to clients so that they are well informed.

“These initiatives make newcomers feel they are part of the community, and they are home.”
In an earlier interview, Escalera said when she and her family first moved to Canada, they were clients of Westman Immigrant Services.

“I really appreciated the help I got from the centre. They really helped me settle.”

Along with parenting information, the centre helps clients with information about banking, resume writing and applying for benefits, said Escalera.

The organization is currently working to forge partnerships with settlement and language offices to provide responsive settlement services with a focus on employment for newcomers.