Changing newcomer lives in Quebec with help from our friends

August 10, 2022

Dan Robichaud, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Diagram Ventures and Myriam Dumont Robillard, doctoral (DCL) candidate at McGill University, are raising funds for Windmill's work in Quebec (where we are known as Le Moulin Microcrédits). Together they have established the QC Professional Accreditation Loans for New Canadians - QC PALs - giving circle. We talked to them about this campaign and Windmill's role in supporting newcomers in Quebec.

Dan and Myriam, what inspired you to create the Quebec PALs for New Canadians giving circle and matching challenge?

Dan & Myriam: Myriam's involvement with temporary migrant workers in Quebec has made us think a great deal about the challenges migrants and immigrants face. Also, as the pandemic has shown, immigrants are the backbone of our society and, as such, we are committed to welcoming them. By providing them with loans and wraparound supports, they can return to their careers and build successful lives in Quebec. We genuinely believe that Quebec PALs for New Canadians will not only fill our crucial labour shortages but also recognize newcomers' dignity by allowing them to fulfill their chosen paths in life.

Myriam, you are currently pursuing your doctorate at McGill University and are passionate about promoting and defending migrant workers' rights, especially migrant domestic workers in Canada. How are migrant workers' challenges reflected in the challenges many of Windmill's newcomer and refugee clients face? Are there similarities?

Myriam: Even if temporary migrant workers (like caregivers, for instance) arrive in Canada under programs for unskilled workers, many of them are in fact skilled, even highly skilled (such as nurses). Those who manage to transition to permanent status still experience the same deskilling as other immigrants. Their qualifications are not recognized and they are, unfortunately, not able to fully access the labour market. Rather than being able to work as they choose and fill urgent labour shortages, they are "stuck" as caregivers for the rest of their working lives.

Despite the critical need for immigrant workers, Quebec lags behind Ontario, B.C. and Alberta in retaining immigrants. Do you think more can be done to support newcomers and refugees who arrive in Quebec?  

Myriam: What I have witnessed in my work with migrants in Quebec is that French is an important barrier when it comes to accessing the labour market. Not only do they have to get qualification recognition but, for many of them, they also have to learn a new language. Unfortunately, the Quebec government lacks effective services to support these newcomers. That's why Windmill's work is so important, especially, the loans for French-language learning. 

Thank you so much for your support of our work and for extending our reach by fundraising for Windmill. What is your Windmill sales pitch?

Dan & Myriam: We find it easy to talk about Windmill as we truly believe its work is crucial. The main thing we focus on is that it's not only helpful for newcomers to achieve their full potential but it's also essential to Canadian society. And the cherry on top is that, unlike other philanthropic donations, the donations to Windmill are reused many times over to reach a maximum number of people. 

What is the impact you hope to achieve with Quebec PALs for New Canadians?

Dan & Myriam: Our main objective is to raise as much money as we can to change the maximum number of lives for the better. We also sincerely hope that by spreading the word about Windmill's work across Quebec, we will raise awareness about the challenges newcomers face when coming here, and how much work is still to be done to treat all of them with the dignity they deserve. Even the highest skilled individuals.

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