In the early days, Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association (MISA, one of the predecessors of ISANS) moved a few times, but many people still remember the office at 1541 Barrington Street, where services were delivered for many years.
In the early 80s, services focused on helping refugees to adapt to their new life in Halifax. By 1983 it was clear to the coordinator and the board that there were many difficulties for refugees who wanted to begin to work. Many were highly educated professionals but they could not find jobs because they lacked Canadian experience.
MISA was approved for a NEED grant – New Employment Experience Development from the federal government. Sandra Nimo was hired as the manager and Ba Nguyen as financial worker. Ba remained as a key person with the organization until her retirement. A selection committee chose ten candidates to participate. Sandra’s role was to find work placements which were paid through the grant for six months and Ba managed the payroll and reporting. The program was very successful, with all the participants hired permanently by the companies where they had been placed. Some were offered jobs after only one or two months.
Today, ISANS continues to arrange work placements for clients who need Canadian experience. At the same time, ISANS is now much more engaged with employers, trying to understand their needs and concerns. We have learned over the years that employers are concerned about what they consider to be the risks of hiring immigrants and the work placement program responds to that concern. Is lack of Canadian experience the main issue? Read a brief article by Jan Sheppard Kutcher, about The Myth of Canadian Experience.