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Community groups are main recourse for immigrants
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 2 avril 2009
Whether it’s for help with the job search, enrolling their kids in school, or information about city services, new immigrants turn to a handful of community non-profit organizations.
The PROMIS (PROMotion, Intégration, Société Nouvelle) in Côte-des-Neiges has been helping immigrants and refugees integrate and adapt to their adoptive society for 20 years. They offer placement in French courses, assistance for families, information sessions and cultural activities.
Given its mission, PROMIS is an important partner of the Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities. Andrée Ménard, its general manager, said that the city is not the main source of funding.
“It’s not the borough’s responsibility,” she said.
Similar story over at Baobab Familial, a family centre started over 10 years ago to welcome and support families from Côte-des-Neiges. Many of the families who seek them out are new immigrants representing 70 different cultural communities.
“A lot of people show up at our door and we often hear that they’ve only been in Montreal for a week or two,” said Laurence Iser, who manages Baobab Familial.
Some families don’t speak French or English and need help with the most basic tasks related to settling down in the city, like signing a lease, hooking up a phone line, paying the Hydro bill, registering kids in school, etc.
There are potluck dinners every first Friday of the month and trips to the sugar shack. Volunteers also spend four to five hours a week in different households, helping mothers who feel overwhelmed. They take the kids to the park, help with cooking, anything to give the mother a breather from her everyday life.
Many of these services are paid for with money from the Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities. Baobab Familial is one of the lucky organizations that receives government funding over a three-year period to carry out its mandate and also benefits from Centraide support. The borough chips in by funding various projects.
“Generally they’re one-year programs, so every year we have to go through the application process in order to consolidate our financing,” said Iser.
“It’s the same procedure whether we’re applying to the city, the different ministries or to foundations; we always have to submit a project but there’s never a guarantee.”
According to figures from the Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities, Quebec welcomed 45 264 immigrants in 2008. Of the ones admitted in the forth quarter of the year, three out of four (74%) said they planned to settled down in Montreal.
[ Iuliana Petrescu ]




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