Mental Health Week- May 6-12

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In much of the Country, an attributing factor to the population growth is immigration.

The federal government has committed $113 million to pre-arrival services for new immigrants in 2019; this is an investment into new Canadians as much as it is an investment in communities, says Regional Connections Executive Director Steve Reynolds.

Looking at the Pembina Valley, over 2018, around 3,000 people used Regional Connections services in Winkler, roughly 1,000 of those were new clients.

Reynolds says the surrounding area continues to thrive in diversity, with an increased number of new residents arriving from Philippines, and India, with maintained arrivals from Germany, Russia, and Ukraine. Reynolds adds this means there are over 130 countries represented in the region.

"It's an investment in positive outcomes; we want to make sure immigration isn't just happening, but that it's happening well, that people have an opportunity to learn English or French and that they have any support they need to get a job and get into their profession," says Reynolds.

Reynolds adds integration is the goal, there are jobs available to newcomers, the community continues to grow, and Regional Connections wants people to feel like the region is home.

A highlight for the past year was the Settlement Workers in Schools program, which had two staff work with the Western School Division in Morden, and three staff in the Borderlands School Division in Altona, helping immigrant families learn the ins and outs of the school system.

"That's been a great program, and we've had great feedback from the schools, divisions, and the families," Reynolds says.

2019 is looking to be an exciting year for Regional Connections, Reynolds says their Winkler location will be getting an expansion, which will add to the available childcare spaces.

"For students coming to English classes, there is childcare available. Up till now its only been available at 18 months, so once mothers are expecting and no longer able to come to classes every day, up till now they've had to leave class for up to a year and a half."

The break can be a real interruption to their learning Reynolds says; however, now Regional Connections will offer childcare at six months, so the path to learning English will be a little smoother.

Regional Connections will continuing to look at creative ways to show their support, and create a positive impact and difference for new members of the community.

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