Bridging the Language Barrier

 Jan 2017

I came to Canada in 2006 from an African country.  I am a widow with a teenaged girl.   I was not connected to anyone; I was isolated, depressed, and had immigration issues, conflicts with my girl, along with other family issues back home.  I also needed to send money home because of my mom's illness. 

Owing to language barrier and lack of connections, I was often misunderstood at my workplace.  I could not express my feelings well, and I often started to speak louder when I got frustrated, then burst into tears.  No one wanted to be close to me.  I was eventually laid off. 

Even though I did not have a young child, I heard that there was a parenting group where I would learn about parenting strategies, information about other resources and support in the community, and be able to communicate with others in my own language.  I then joined the Oromo group and was referred to other support workers who helped me with Alberta Works, Capital Housing, immigration papers, and Food Bank application.  Also through the ESL program with an employment opportunity with Northland, I landed a dishwasher position after a 4-month ESL program. 

My relationship with my daughter has also improved, although we still have to work out some issues.  I would hope my daughter can have post-secondary education opportunity while I continue to improve my language and communication skills to allow me to connect with the broader society and be able to have a better position.