When Irene first came to Saskatoon in 2018 from South Africa, a family friend referred her to the Newcomer Information Centre (NIC). She recalls, “they insisted that going to the Newcomer Information Centre will help me know the programs, services and benefits that I qualified for and they were not wrong.”
NIC is one of Saskatchewan’s 11 Regional Newcomer Gateways that assist newcomers with the information and refer them to services to integrate into the community.
NIC office is comfortably located in downtown Saskatoon- a few blocks from the downtown bus terminal, making it easily accessible for newcomers who may have limited mobility options. NIC’s knowledgeable staff work as settlement counsellors to understand clients’ needs and connect them to suitable programs offered by other settlement agencies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations in the city.
“The settlement counsellor assigned to me was quite knowledgeable and when she couldn’t answer my questions, she would refer me to another organization where I was sure to get the answers I needed”, Irene confirmed.
NIC works with various settlement partners in the city that offer programs and services in various areas including but not limited to employment, language, community connection, healthcare, education, housing, childcare, business, family reunification, and legal services.
In addition to offering referral services, NIC also gives newcomers free access to internet-enabled computers, printers, scanners, and fax machines. These are essential in the first few weeks of landing for newcomers when they need to do several documentations, which could be difficult without easy access to the appropriate equipment.
“Almost four years after my first visit to Canada, I still have my computer access card that allows me to browse the internet, scan, print and fax documents for free. This card made my life easier in my early days when I didn’t have a printer or scanner nor a car to drive to the library to print. I used to go to the centre at least once in a week to apply for jobs on their computer, scan and print all the documents I needed, prepare for interviews, and chat with other newcomers”, Irene remembers fondly.
NIC services are not limited to English-speaking newcomers only; through the Language Line, non-English speaking newcomers can access service over the telephone in 170 different languages.
NIC aims to assist newcomers with the most appropriate information and refer them to the most relevant programs and services available in their settlement process. If you plan to migrate to Saskatoon or are a newcomer to Saskatoon, NIC should be your first point of contact in Saskatoon. Irene concludes that “I wouldn’t have known all the programs, services and benefits I qualified for if I hadn’t started my integration by visiting the newcomer centre. Many newcomers don’t access the programs they need and qualify for because they don’t know such programs exist. That’s a mistake that a visit to NIC from the get-go can help them avoid.”
Stephanie Shyluk, the manager at NIC says, “everyone is welcome to contact the NIC and ask about programs and services. We will happily chat with people from all immigration categories, people new to Saskatchewan, and even our neighbours, community members and business owners who have questions and are seeking support for newcomers in their network or staff”.
At this time, first-time clients are encouraged to reach NIC by phone or email before visiting the office. Although, language assessment remains in-person. For current information on NIC, visit NIC’s Facebook page and website.