What are the Pressing Challenges of Resettling Refugees in Lethbridge?


March 17, 2016 :: Sarah Amies and Elma Guinto
Moderated by Knud Petersen

The recent influx of refugees, mainly from Syria, has kept Lethbridge Family Services (LFS) and their Immigrant Services department plenty busy since before New Year. LFS is expecting up to 240 Government-sponsored Syrian refugees by the end of 2016 in addition to the 40 or so that is privately-sponsored. About half of the expected refugees are in Lethbridge now.

A steering committee of community partners including immigration services, education, health, social services, law enforcement and others, including many volunteers, are set up to help transition refugees into the city. Most of the refugees come from refugee camps in Jordan and all have passed Canada’s five-stage screening process.

Questions about housing and when children can start attending school, are legitimate concerns as are, whether adults generally have the skills necessary to enter the job market and how soon. The speakers will address these questions and also outline the many cultural, economic and educational issues involved with resettling refugees.

Speaker: Sarah Amies and Elma Guinto
Sarah Amies has lived, worked and raised a family in Lethbridge since 1982. She graduated from the University of Lethbridge (’BA – Distinction) in 1988. For the next 13 years, she worked as the Applied Studies program coordinator and as an Arts and Science Academic Advisor for the U of L.
In 2001, Sarah started working with Lethbridge Family Services as the Program Director for the Immigrant Services department. In this capacity, Sarah is involved in community development and educational initiatives as well as overseeing the daily operations of the settlement office. Sarah is very dedicated working with the City and its citizens in order to develop a community that is supportive of and welcoming to our newest neighbours. In 2012, Sarah received YWCA’s Women of Distinction award and she was named a U of L Alumni Honour Society Inductee in 2013.
Elma Guinto has been a teacher for 40 years, most of that time as an ESL teacher. For the past 25 years, she has owned and operated Flexibility Learning Systems, an English as a Second Language school, in downtown Lethbridge which provides language classes and employment assistance to immigrants and refugees coming to Canada. Elma received her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Lethbridge, and has taught in elementary and junior high school, and in a correctional centre before focusing her teaching on Adult Basic Education and English as a Second Language. She also trained elementary school teachers in Nigeria for two years, and volunteered with an elementary school in Siem Reap, Cambodia. In her spare time, she loves to read, garden, and travel, and has visited more than 60 countries.

Moderator: Knud Petersen

Date: Thursday, March 17, 2016
Time: Noon - 1:30 PM (30 minutes each for presentation, lunch and Q & A)
Location: Country Kitchen Catering (Lower level of The Keg) 1715 Mayor Magrath Dr. S
Cost: $11.00 (includes lunch) or $2.00 (includes coffee/tea)


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