Sierra Leone newcomers in Winnipeg: their experiences with seeking help
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African refugees and immigrants are arriving in Manitoba in vastly increasing numbers and a review of the literature indicates that they are experiencing barriers to successful integration. The goals of this research are to understand the experiences of Sierra Leonean newcomers with seeking support and identify specific needs and services that might be helpful. Using qualitative methods, interviews were conducted with Sierra Leonean newcomers. The analysis of the data indicates that newcomers want financial independence and to fit into Canadian life. The process to get their foreign credentials accredited is difficult and affects their ability to gain economic security. They rely on informal networks with other Sierra Leoneans for assistance to acquire resources when they are unable to get help from service providers. As well, newcomers are concerned about their community image, feelings of isolation and sacrificing all of their dreams. Recommendations from this study include the need to recognize and support African community leaders in connecting with newcomers to share accurate and vital information. In addition, services for employment and the accreditation of foreign credentials should be appropriate, affordable and timely. Changes to policies and to the provision of settlement services are necessary to improve the accessibility and availability of resources required for the successful integration of African newcomers.