Gina Moynan: Adapting Your Skills

After several trips to Canada as a tourist, British-born Gina Moynan decided she wanted to make it her home. “I liked the environment and I always had the desire to live in North America. When I saw what it was like, I got interested.”

Gina worked as a school teacher and a vice-principal in London, and also had counselling experience. She could have applied for a principal’s job instead of completing the immigration process. “But I knew now is the time I could have a career in Canada. I thought it was a good opportunity to experience life here,” she says, adding that her daughter was in grade 10 and keen to come along.

Despite attending information sessions about Canada in London, she felt culture shock. “People assume you’ll blend in quickly because you are from the UK and there are no language barriers.” But, like other immigrants, she needed help settling and came to Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia two days after she arrived in August 2011.She was referred to an Employment Counsellor. She adapted her CV and took Pre-employment Workshops every morning for three weeks. “That was an excellent course,” she says, explaining that it covered resume writing, and all the do’s and don’ts of working in Canada. Students role-played and practiced their interview techniques and she was reminded of the importance of transferable skills. “It opens you to change your view about life.”

For three months Gina applied for teaching jobs but ended up as a part-time tutor. “That was a challenge as you’re overqualified for some of the roles. But it’s good to integrate and get experience and learn about work here.” Although she was offered a full-time tutoring job, she was drawn to Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia. “Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia has values as an organization that I could identify with.” Her last school in England was 99% ESL – with over 33 languages in the school community – so a culturally diverse workforce was appealing.

It’s a massive thing to be away from your friends and family and to settle into a new community.  I can’t imagine having language barriers to deal with as well.

She became the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia Coordinator of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Gina was responsible for administration, monitoring, marketing and outreach.  Her teaching career skills in administration, instruction and counselling were very useful! (Gina has since taken on a new role as Coordinator of the new Rural Settlement Program)

She feels accepted here but finds the biggest challenge is to live happily in a community without family and old friends. “It’s a massive thing to be away from your friends and family and to settle into a new community. I can’t imagine having language barriers to deal with as well.”

Gina finds Halifax much quieter than London, but enjoys the slower pace and the landscape. She tells the story of coming through customs at the airport after becoming a permanent resident.  “The Customs guy said welcome home. And I said: ‘Wow, I live here!’”