Original Published on Jul 14, 2022 at 11:02

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Grande Prairie Council for Lifelong Learning (GPCLL) has received $126,862 from the province for its career mentorship program for skilled newcomers.

The funding comes from the Alberta Immigrant Mentorship Innovation Grant, a $2.1 million investment divided among eight organizations across the province.

“I think it’s going to be really important for building bridges between people born and raised in Grande Prairie and people trying to make Grande Prairie their home,” said Darrell Wiens, GPCLL executive director.

“There’s all kinds of good things about mentorship; it builds relationships, connections, social connections, and professional connections.”

He said the grant would go toward developing and implementing a mentorship program that will help newcomers that have professional work experience find work in those roles in Grande Prairie.

“I think for being mentored, there will be a demand for it.

“We’re going to have to really manage what the expectations are because it’s not necessarily about getting a job; it’s about getting a career,” said Wiens.

He hopes the program will be ready for November and the organization will be looking for volunteers to be mentors.

“There may be people in Grande Prairie that want to volunteer as a mentor, so we’d be looking for professionals who want to do that.”

A common challenge for newcomers is that they need a job and will work in lower entry-level jobs for survival.

“What we find is a lot of people may have a profession back home, they come here, and they have to get a survival job, so you find them driving taxis or working at McDonald’s or something like that, but they’re actually highly educated,” explained Wiens.

He believes a mentor would be able to help these skilled workers find the places to go and help them get back into jobs they are educated for, and help build connections with their industry.

Wiens said that after speaking with organizations in Edmonton that currently do mentorships with newcomers, the focus might be slightly different for the Grande Prairie region.

“Talking with other organizations like in Edmonton that have been doing mentoring, they tend to specialize in things like accounting and those types of things, but here in Grande Prairie, we are a bit more of a trades town.”

 Grant to work with medical graduates

The Alberta International Medical Graduate Association (AIMGA) also received $298,980 from the grant and will work provincewide, looking at opportunities with international medical graduates.

“These mentorship projects will help break down barriers that newcomers often face when first trying to build their careers in Alberta by helping them understand how to apply their professional skills and experience in a Canadian context,” said Muhammad Yaseen, associate minister of immigration and multiculturalism.

The project terms will range from up to three years to ensure organizations can provide long-term mentorship opportunities to newcomers.

Wiens is glad to see some funding come to the Grande Prairie region.

“I would like to have people be able to receive all the services they would get in Edmonton here in Grande Prairie.”

This item reprinted with permission from Town & Country News, Beaverlodge, Alberta