The graduation for the second offering of Bridge to Construction took place on Wednesday, February 12, at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia. This event celebrated the partnership and collaboration within Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia and the community at large. The Bridge to Construction is a pilot project funded by the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration. Nine refugee clients participated over 6 weeks in language and safety training to prepare them for applying for and entering union positions in construction companies in various trades.
At the graduation, Gerry Mills, Director of Operations, welcomed the successful clients and thanked the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration for their confidence in this pilot project. She also thanked all partners starting with Trent Soholt from the Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council, Walter MacDonald from JATF who trained the clients in Fall Protection and Confined Spaces, and Sarah Parker from St. John Ambulance who taught Emergency First Aid and CPR/AED and WHMIS.
Walter MacDonald, Director of Apprenticeship & Training wrote a note to all participants:
“I just wanted to say how enjoyable it was working with the participants once again. I am there to instruct them but I find myself learning so much from them and their range of experiences. They’ve all worked very hard for something that they want and that is a huge achievement especially facing so many challenges. Coming from a foreign land and starting a whole new life for themselves and for their families must be so hard. It is a tough economy right now and the construction industry requires tenacity, hard work, determination and a focus on doing your job safely. They have proven that they are willing to do what it takes to achieve their goals. I wish the best for them and if I can help in any other capacity please let me know.”
This program was successful because of the support of the key employers who hired the first group and are interested in hiring the new group as well. Ryan Kidney, HR Manager from Dexter Construction and Joe Bidermann from Landscaping Design spoke about the dedication and hard work that the participants put in to these jobs. According to Ryan, out of the 6 workers at Dexter, 5 were exceptional and one was very good.
Jayne Geldart, manager of Community Language and Skills and Mohja Alia, manager of Employment and Bridging thanked all those who collaborated in and supported this vision. Among those were Monica Sayegh who coordinated the program, Arleigh Hood, the EAL instructor who taught them safety vocabulary and communication skills for the workplace, the employment specialist team, Tanja Matthews, the Employment Series facilitator, Darlene MacInnis who will prepare them with practice interviews and all of the settlement workers and teachers who supported clients for the past number of years.
Gerry, Monica and Arleigh presented the certificates to the very excited participants, who were also given boxes with their personal protective equipment and were thrilled to try on their hard hats and construction vests.
Lak Man Rai, one of the participants spoke on behalf of the group and thanked all Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia staff, trainers and funders for making this training available for them. The group played a couple of Bhutanese songs to thank everyone.
Jennifer Henderson from CBC Radio interviewed Ryan Kidney, Joe Bidermann and participants.
Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia is very proud of their success and we wish them all the best!