Richardson employee helps newcomers build new lives in Canada
Since the U.S. election, an influx of asylum seekers have been crossing into Canada from the U.S. According to the Globe and Mail, Canadian police intercepted 1,134 asylum seekers attempting to cross the Canadian border illegally in the first two months of this year.
Manitoba recently saw the largest weekend influx of refugees illegally entering the province from the U.S., according to CTV News, with 29 people walking into Manitoba on March 18 and 19 alone.
Marty Cielen, Director, Rail Transportation for Richardson International has been involved with Hospitality House since the early 2000s assisting refugees coming into Winnipeg. Hospitality House is a non-profit organization in Winnipeg that sponsors refugees and offers support to assist them in their first year in Canada.
“While governments and policies change and evolve, it’s important to remember in our short 150 years, together with our First Nations, this country was built with newcomers from all over the world,” says Marty. “Canada is a society of inclusion, compassion and excellence.”
With Hospitality House, Marty works with the residents to build needed items like re-purposing old fence panels, renovating after overland flooding, putting up new drywall, painting and working on plumbing and flooring.
Hospitality House works together with other refugee and immigrant-focused organizations like Welcome House and the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM). These organizations have been busy offering their services to asylum seekers and other immigrants and refugees in need.
“While they were very energetic and willing, most have not worked with power tools and North American materials, so safety and extensive coaching become our first and most important step,” says Marty. “They learned new skills and I learned new levels of patience and how to communicate. I also learned that teaching drywall mudding during the televised soccer World Cup is not always a good idea.”
Marty has seen many success stories during his time with Hospitality House. Three orphaned siblings from Congo who worked at a restaurant in Kenya and slept on the street were once seeking assistance from Hospitality House. Marty’s daughter helped tutor one of the brothers. Today, that brother has graduated from nursing and is employed, while his sister is a hair stylist and the other brother is working as an auto mechanic.
Marty also mentioned Peter Deng, a child soldier from Sudan, who arrived in Manitoba in 2005. He was able to reunite with his Ugandan wife and child, who he hadn’t yet met, and is now working with three daughters.
Other Richardson employees have helped Marty and Hospitality House by regularly contributing clothes and bikes. Marty says donations like dress clothes help give refugees confidence when they seek employment opportunities.
Marty strives to maintain relationships with the newcomers he works with after they embark on their new lives. He enjoys receiving their emails, texts and Instagram posts to reconnect and see their progress, especially around the holiday season.
To learn more about and donate to Hospitality House visit www.hhrmwpg.org.