Pop up vaccination clinic for newcomers to Canada held at Sault Community Career Centre

The organization is currently in talks with the federal governments to possibly bring some Afghan refugees to Sault Ste. Marie

An organization that provides settlement services to newcomers worked with Algoma Public Health to provide a pop-up vaccination clinic to support those who may have a language barrier or other obstacles to getting jabbed.

On Thursday the Sault Community Career Centre hosted a parking lot vaccination clinic behind its office at 502 Queen Street East focused on newcomers to Canada. 

“Some of those newcomers or newly resettled families were in the process of getting their first shot or waiting for their second vaccine,” said Saira Anjum, manager of newcomer programs.

“Some of these newcomers, you can imagine, English is not their first language and it can be overwhelming and challenging to access all of the information,” said Anjum. ”That is why we have a language interpreter on site and they were able to provide all of their information in their first language and it was an opportunity for our clients to ask any questions.”

Sault Ste. Marie has been accepting refugees throughout the pandemic, said Anjum.

“Even though there was a pandemic over the last 18 months we have been receiving families last year and this year. They are coming from different parts of the world. We have been receiving families from Syria, Palestine, Nigeria, Ethiopia and a couple of other countries,” she said.

“We are expecting to receive more families this fall, so we are planning to have this (vaccination clinics) on an ongoing basis,” she added.

Anjum said the Sault Community Career Centre is currently in discussions to possibly receive refugees from Afghanistan and settle them in the Sault. 

“Right now the Canadian government is working to bring these people who have been very helpful with our armed forces,” said Anjum. “They are coming with a different kind of skill set. The English language is there and they will have some sort of further education as well.”

The key is to be ready for the Afghan refugees if help is requested, said Adam Pinder, executive director of the Sault Community Career Centre.

“We have been in dialogue with the federal government and some of our partner organizations across Canada and we are ready should there be a need for Sault Ste. Marie to receive Afghan refugees — absolutely, we are prepared for that,” he said.

Pinder said he is not sure how many refugees from Afghanistan could be coming to the Sault.

“If there was a need for multiple families to come here we would find a way to accommodate it,” he said.

Pinder said the Sault has a lot to offer and is diversifying in recent years. 

”I think that is making it more and more attractive for people to come here,” he said.

Anjum said Sault College and Algoma University have done a lot to bring newcomers to the Sault, as has local industry and other businesses.

“We have more affordable housing here and better opportunities for education for their children and more community support is available, that is why we have seen more newcomers here,” she said.

More than 20 people were vaccinated during the event on Thursday, said Pinder.

“We will take that as a success,” he said.

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