Settling in Calgary brought many new challenges for Gladys and her family. Originally from Nigeria, they had immigrated to the UK, but with high unemployment and uncertainty, they decided to move to Canada to raise their little girl.
“Starting over again was hard,” says Gladys. “The high cost of shipping forced us to leave most of our belongings behind. We had no family or friends in Calgary and had to learn how to embrace a new culture. I had a lot of anxiety and stress.”
Before long, Gladys learned that The Salvation Army’s Barbara Mitchell Family Resource Centre (BMFRC) was offering free income tax workshops. Unsure about how to complete Canadian tax forms, her husband attended. From there the family was invited to attend information sessions and activities such as movie nights and birthday parties.
“The programs and activities gave us the opportunity to meet new friends, and spend quality time with people who really wanted to help us improve our situation. My daughter loved interacting with other kids during play and story time and crafts. I remember a time when I was very sick and couldn’t drive or take a bus. My daughter didn’t want to miss anything at the centre and begged me to take a cab. I didn’t have a choice,” Gladys chuckles.
“The centre offers a variety of programs such as computer literacy, education and employment preparation, and reading classes for children, which help newcomers to Canada learn about and succeed in our culture and society,” says Karen Livick, Executive Director.
“When you are new to a country you need emotional and psychological backup,” says Gladys. “I was so moved that a group of people who I never knew wanted to help me be a part of the community, The Salvation Army has become my family and every time I walk through the doors I feel I’m at home.”