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HRM Launches Newcomers’ Guide
(Tuesday, April 14, 2009) – Representatives of more than 17 partner organizations who provide services to newcomers joined Halifax Regional Municipality and the Greater Halifax Partnership in City Hall last week to celebrate the launch of HRM’s first Newcomers’ Guide to Halifax Regional Municipality.
“Moving to a new city, and a new country, is exciting but can be challenging as people must navigate unfamiliar government processes, locate a place to live, find their way around, open bank accounts, register for schools - all the things we tend to take for granted each day,” said Mayor Peter Kelly. “It is our hope that this Guide will help make the transition easier for newcomers to our municipality.”
HRM developed the Guide as part of the its Immigration Action Plan and to help fulfill one of its Economic Strategy goals to "supercharge HRM’s labour force", a key factor of which is attracting and retaining immigrants. The project was a partnership between HRM and Greater Halifax Partnership, with funding from Nova Scotia’s Office of Immigration. Several settlement organizations reviewed and helped shape the Guide’s content.
“It is vital for newcomers to feel connected to the community in order for them to remain,” said Dan English, HRM’s Chief Administrative Officer, addressing the guests. “We are looking to build stronger community partnerships with your organizations to better achieve the goal of reaching out to newcomers and getting them involved in civic life.”
A recent report from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities demonstrates that Halifax is doing well in regards to settlement of recent immigrants in some key Quality of Life indicators: Employment, Income, Homeownership, and Affordability. In addition, the Atlantic Mayor's Congress this week is going to be discussing strategies for increased attraction of newcomers.
Some of the programs and events that HRM currently offers in conjunction with its partners includes support to MISA in organizing neighbourhood bus tours, staff participation on the Welcoming Communities committee, participation of over 400 adults with more than 30 different first languages in the Halifax Regional Library’s ESL training last year, a volunteer services division which assists newcomers in developing a network and encourages their participation in community life, and a new Cultural Affairs section committed to supporting and celebrating the creative and cultural vibrancy that newcomers bring to our community.
The Guide is available at HRM libraries, customer service centres and through the HRM call centre and partner organizations who offer support to immigrants. It is also available on-line at www.halifax.ca/newcomers.
Mayor Peter Kelly