Mentors Help Unlock Immigrants’ Potential

The London Free Press

By Mashoka Maimona

London, Ont. — London’s new status as Canada’s poster child for big-city unemployment doesn’t faze two London immigrants.

David Cuellar arrived “in the perfect city to raise a family” a year and a half ago from Bogota, Colombia with his wife and infant daughter.

In 2008, Mohammad Bashar came to the University of Western Ontario to pursue a masters degree in mechanical engineering. The Bangladeshi immigrant decided to take a chance on London, making it his new home and career destination.

Both men are optimistic about hidden potential within London’s job market as they join a newly-launched peer mentorship program for immigrant employment by the London-Middlesex Immigrant Employment Council (LMIEC).

“This is a land of opportunity,” said Cuellar, who recently landed a job at RBC Royal Bank through his mentor, plucked out by LMIEC.

The Colombian native was paired with the regional vice president of RBC, Brian Henderson, through the centre’s general immigrant mentorship program — connecting immigrants with local employers — last year.

“In Canada, if you want something, you can get it. In Colombia, I would never have access to a vice president of a bank. In Canada, I can meet a successful person who helped me up the professional ladder.”

His mentorship involved both economic and social integration as the vice president invited Cuellar to dinner, networking events and even a typical Canuck welcome — a hockey game.

At the end, the new Londoner was let in on a job opening at RBC.

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