December 17, 2014 - 4:27pmUpdated: December 18, 2014 - 7:38am
Saskatchewan flag. Lasia Kretzel/ Newstalk Radio
Icasiana De Gala is one of 122,623 newcomers to the province since 2007 who now call Saskatchewan home.
“I’m from Saskatchewan for the past five years,” De Gala laughed. “But I’m from the Philippines.”
This year the province welcomed 18,102 new people. That includes thousands from many different provinces and countries around the world and others who were born in the province this year.
De Gala is now on the front lines of greeting international immigrants as the executive director of the Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre.
“We have over 200 new people who arrived or registered with us this year and I’m just talking about the adults,” she said, adding that their children up that total to 230 new people.
More than half of those international immigrants come from the Philippines like De Gala and her family. To name every other country, she has to look it up on her computer system.
“We have a lot coming from India, then from Mexico, from South Africa and other countries in Africa, from Kenya, from Nigeria, from Sierre Leone,” she lists.
“Some of them are coming from Pakistan, we have a few Lithuania, from Korea. Where else? We have three from Greece, from Ecuador and from different countries in the Americas, El Salvador and Colombia.”
She says many of the international immigrants come here through the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program. They either have a job waiting for them or are sponsored through immediate family members.
Temporary foreign workers are also common but others apply to immigrate through federal programs.
“Maybe they come to Saskatchewan because they feel they have a better chance of finding a job,” De Gala explained.
She says some people immigrate to Toronto or Vancouver first and then migrate to Saskatchewan for better work opportunities.
Her husband was a cook in the Philippines before moving to Swift Current to work at Boston Pizza seven years ago through the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program. De Gala says their family was lucky because it only took two years to save enough money for her and their six children to follow him to Canada.
“Now his regular job is with a manufacturing company which has nothing to do with cooking at all, but he also has his own little catering and take out business that he continues to do because that’s his first love – cooking.”
De Gala applied to fill a maternity leave position at the Newcomer Welcome Centre in 2011 and since then she has moved up to the position of executive director.
Although she can personally relate to some immigrants, she says everyone has a different experience with the paperwork and the culture shock depending on where they come from.
De Gala is proud to call Saskatchewan home and she plans to apply for Canadian citizenship with the whole family in the near future.