A traveling photo exhibit in New Brunswick is commemorating the crucial role played by Canadian immigrants in essential vocations. It’s named Héros de l’immigration in French, and it highlights the significant contributions of 21 francophone immigrants to Canada.
“In Canada, one healthcare worker in four is an immigrant and more than 50,000 temporary foreign workers support our agricultural and food processing industries every year,” notes the Réseau en Immigration Francophone du Nouveau-Brunswick (RIFNB) in French on its website. “In New Brunswick, they work hand in hand with New Brunswickers to offer the services that allow us to move forward.”
The show, which was photographed by David Champagne, debuted in Moncton in October and is now on display in Dieppe’s arts and cultural center until February 8. From there, it will continue to Fredericton until the beginning of spring, then to Shippagan on the Acadian Peninsula, where the images will be on display until the end of June.
Along with the images, there are testimonials from these vital employees expressing the significance of their occupations to them and people who benefited from their services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a tough job but we held on thanks in part to the residents,” said Algeria-born Esma Moknache, a personal support worker in Shippagan. “They were a source of strength for us. You get used to it so much that you forget the coronavirus. You live with it. The work becomes a passion.”
During the last summer, Moknache labored seven days a week to offer this critical service. The key to her perseverance was just understanding that her clients required her assistance.
“You simply remind yourself that they need you and a strength comes from within you – you don’t even know where it comes from – but you find yourself able to say that you will be there tomorrow at 7 a.m. and stay until 7 p.m. and even longer,” she said. “That’s how we hung on until now.”
Burundi-born Cedric Mpawenimana, a Fredericton-based community support worker, concurred. During the outbreak, he stated his main motivation was simply to help people. Each picture in the show, which can be viewed online here, includes a QR code that allows visitors to watch and listen to video testimonials from these vital Atlantic Canadian employees.
“These are our physicians, our nurses, our orderlies, our grocery store clerks, and our garage collectors,” notes the RIFNB on its website. “They work in agriculture, food processing, transportation and other essential services. “We applaud their courage and their exceptional work.”
All through the pandemic, Ottawa has kept the door open for immigrants and temporary foreign workers who want to come to Canada, despite the necessity for border restrictions and other public health constraints on occasion.
As a result of its open-door policy, Canada was able to welcome a record-breaking 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, and it plans to surpass that figure with 411,000 new permanent residents as the immigration objective for 2022. In January of this year, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced a $35 million investment in settlement programs to increase its reach to 41 communities.
Immigrants and refugees have long been the driving force behind Canada’s society and economy, and our country has a long history of being a worldwide leader in resettlement and integration. This achievement would not have been possible without the assistance of key settlement service organizations that assist newcomers in learning Canada’s official languages, finding jobs, and establishing successful lives in their new areas.
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