Sheila is a long term volunteer in the Canada Connects program at Calgary Catholic Immigrant Society (CCIS). She has dedicated 15 years of her time and efforts to help refugee and immigrant families adjust to life in Calgary.
In the early 2000s, Calgary was going through a period of rapid economic growth, which was accompanied by increased immigration from other provinces and abroad. Sheila’s decision to become a volunteer grew from a realization about the demographic and social changes happening around her.
“I was increasingly out of touch with the changes happening around me in Calgary and in Canada as a result of immigration.”
Through volunteering, Shelia connected with immigrants and refugees and had the chance to hear their stories, hopes, and dreams. She got to know them a little better and understood more about the challenges and struggles that come with migration to a new environment and adjustment to a new culture.
“I can only imagine what it’s like to have to leave your home and country, and build a new life in another country.”
Sheila finds it very rewarding to support the newcomer families she met, see them slowly find their feet, and watch their children thrive. Volunteering has given her the chance to see the wider Calgary and Canadian community in a different light and to challenge her own attitudes and perspectives. She began to gain a sense of some of the social changes that will need to happen in order to build a strong future together.
“I would highly recommend volunteering with the Canada Connects program at CCIS to other Calgarians looking for ways to make a difference in their communities.”