Ali Howat, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter | firstname.lastname@example.org
“I just came for the summer,” said Sandra Campbell and Chris Woo, who work together in Jasper Settlement Services.
Campbell and Woo are among many of the newcomers who travelled to Jasper for the summer and decided it was too beautiful, so they chose to call Jasper their new home.
Woo, a husband and father of four, was born in Vancouver and raised on Vancouver Island.
In school, he studied hospitality and management. Woo then moved to Jasper for a summer job in the field 20 years ago.
Once in Jasper, Woo started working his way up the food chain from front of house to kitchen, all the way up to management and through to sales.
“I just wanted to climb and to grow,” he said.
Woo then landed a job in Settlement Services after taking a part-time role this past fall in the Community Development branch of the Municipality’s Community and Family Services department
“I couldn’t be happier. I’ve got, like, the best work and work partner ever. I love working with Campbell. We have so much fun together.”
Campbell, a wife and a mother to a six-year-old daughter, was born in Costa Rica and spent her childhood growing up there.
Campbell then went on and spent most of her adult and university life in Nijmegen in the Netherlands where she completed two degrees.
Campbell has a bachelor degree in sport and physical education, as well as a second degree in recreational activities.
“Between exercise and sport and recreation, you can improve a kid’s behaviour and make them more successful,” she said.
After that, Campbell went on to work as a teacher and recreational programmer before going to work overseas in the United States.
While working there, Campbell worked on cruise ships with Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise lines, specifically as a youth entertainment and kids and youth programs.
“I was honestly loving that,” Campbell said.
Working overseas was Campbell’s last job before she and her husband decided to take a vacation down to Jasper.
“I just came for the summer and just stayed,” she said.
Campbell has now called Jasper her home for 10 years now.
In those 10 years, Campbell started working with Settlement Services, where she has been working for three years now. Where she also works alongside Woo.
The work that Campbell and Woo do through Settlement Services is providing the refugees, the permanent residents and the newcomers with the support they need to be able to successfully settle here in Canada and more specifically here in Jasper.
The services that are offered through Settlement Services are all offered free of charge, through Community and Family Services.
One part that Campbell and Settlement Services helps with is assisting some newcomers with their applications in permanent residency and if they want help with their application in becoming a Canadian citizen.
For Campbell, she feels that what helps her a lot in this job is that she feels that she understands what a lot of the newcomers are going through.
“I am an immigrant too. I came here in the same way as a minority of the newcomers,” she said.
“What helps with them, that is the important part. They can see in myself I did it. I know. I understand what you are going through.”
A lot of the clients Campbell and Woo help are protected persons, including refugees and permanent residents.
“We support them, be sure that they get free services, that they don’t have to go and pay a lawyer or an immigration advisor,” Campbell said.
Settlement Services ensures they have an easy transition and proper settlement by helping them with housing, transportation and job opportunities.
“Not only that,” Woo said, “we provide community support. Sharing with them the activities that we have and the amenities that we have in this place.”
Another part that Settlement Services provide, Woo’s main focus, is supporting children and their families with successful integration into their schools.
Woo assists in helping the families in school registration, orientation, parent/teacher interviews, home meetings as well as follow-ups.
In addition, Woo helps provide them with access to referrals and the support they may need through Community and Family Services.
Coming to a new town is tough, so providing the newcomers with free services and support helps them to know that there is someone out there that they can go to that they can trust.
“That can be the bridge from being a newcomer and settling into town,” Woo said.
Alongside their main positions with Settlement services, Woo and Campbell along with a few others help start programs that they use to help the newcomers become integrated within the community.
These programs not only help them become integrated within the community but are also a great way for them to meet other residents.
One of the programs that they have started is called Cultural Kitchens.
The idea stemmed from the absence the community was feeling from the dinners that Jasperites used to have together.
“We were missing that whole aspect of eating together as a community,” Woo said.
So, Woo alongside a few others came together to start an online cooking show that was cultural and different.
They wanted the show to highlight different people within the community that people normally wouldn’t see and get them to share a meal that meant something to them.
“It’s a great way to connect with new people and how excited the rest of the community can be about having a virtual meal together and trying something new,” Woo said.