Participant stories

Heather Keats - Program Consultant responsible for long term integration committee for newcomers under PETL - Post Secondary Training & Labour

Heather’s team focused right in on the root causes of why immigration was not as successful in New Brunswick as it has been in other provinces. Through their initial discussions in the first workshop they noticed that newcomers highly valued their children’s experience in the immigration process. With this as a clue to the systemic issue, Heather and her team went and talked to teachers about the experience of teaching with diversity in the classroom. This process of going from a hunch to backing it up with human-centred field research is exactly what the lab is designed to facilitate. Heather reflected on the lab process and her experience saying that it has put new wind in her sails after working in government for many years.

Jake Arbuckle - Team Lead for Skilled Worker Unit, GNB

Jake came into the lab in the first cycle with a lot of experience in immigration. He has been on multiple trips overseas to attract newcomers to New Brunswick so he was an excellent person to have in the room to share his knowledge of the immigration process. What Jake learned throughout the sessions was the importance of stepping back and looking at the motivation behind why he does this work. The human-centred toolkit was especially important in how his team’s prototype was developed. Even though is team from the first cycle did not stay together, Jake has taken their idea into practice within his department as a new approach for the regional immigration office to assess the employer needs in the area and deliver services based on that information. This shift is a direct reflection of the style of work encouraged in the lab. Jake subsequently participated in the second cycle of the lab and made contributions to the internationally educated nurses team.

Elizabeth Stronach - Strategic Advisor, IRCC

Elizabeth is a self-described critic and took some time to warm up to the lab process. Coming out from Ottawa to participate, she became an extremely valuable voice on her team, sharing insights into what needed to change at the federal level to move things forward. Elizabeth stated that she derived enormous personal value out of the lab. She recognises the huge impact this work can have on people’s lives and families, and so taking the human-centred approach made a lot of sense to her. She also saw the value of being able to take action on a challenge after only five days of work with a team.

Erika Cantu - Diversity Champion, United Way

Erika came to the first cycle of the lab wearing a number of hats. As the owner of a small business that helps newcomers land in Canada and a newcomer herself, she understands the trials of coming to a new place and starting anew. Her passion for the topic is evident and informed many discussions during that formative first cycle. Although her team in the first cycle did not end up with a workable prototype, Erika was not defeated, and she was invited to the second cycle after securing a new job with the United Way as their dedicated Diversity Champion. Already knowing the process was a huge benefit to her team as she could move the conversations forward and provide insight into what was coming next. Their team got to the heart of the issue and talked to the people living in a community of Moncton with one of the highest newcomer populations, Parkton. The work they are doing there is ensuring that newcomer voices are heard when attempting to help them integrate into Canadian culture.

Lisa Bamford - Executive Director, Multicultural Association of Fredericton Inc.

Lisa is very connected to immigration in New Brunswick. What she learned from the lab was that even in this specialized realm there are serious silos where information flow is not happening. The value she found in the lab was the multi-sectoral approach that put people at the table together and they could easily find commonalities in their challenges. The in depth conversations she was able to have with other partners and stakeholders made the value of what her team delivered with their community connection prototype much stronger.

Susan Wilson - Director, Immigration, J.D. Irving Ltd.

Susan came into the lab with a fresh mandate at J.D. Irving Limited. As the first dedicated person working on immigrant support within the company, she is focused on ensuring the process goes as smoothly and quickly as possible. Having her, a representative of the biggest company in New Brunswick, at the table with people who are able to make change at the provincial and federal levels was essential to ensuring outcomes that will move the needle on the process. Susan’s engagement was evident from the beginning of the workshop in cycle two. Having those clear objectives from her company allowed her to communicate what needs to change. The resources at her disposal in terms of tracking and sheer numbers of immigrant employees JDI will process is key to learning how the process will be best improved.

Virgil Guitard - Nursing Consultant, Nurses Association of NB

Virgil has been working as a consultant for the Nurses Association and does so remotely for the most part. The lab gave him the chance to work closely with his colleagues and build strong relationships in person. Sceptical at first, he found the processes and tools aligned with his humorous nature and was able to keep energy levels high throughout the week. The value of being in the same room when working on these types of problems was huge. Being forced to push through the challenging moments with a team leads to breakthroughs and the innovative ideas the Internationally Educated Nurses team came up with are proof.