By: Tony Davis CBC News
‘It’s all about connecting the dots and helping people connect with others,’ says Scott Smith
A new position has been created in western P.E.I. to help newcomers feel at home.
The community navigator has been launched under a pilot project jointly funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the provincial government.
It’s intended to support growth in rural P.E.I. and make sure newcomers to the province have the resources they need to thrive.
Scott Smith has been in the position for three months now. He was born on the Island, but spent four years working in the Dominican Republic and said he knows what it’s like to be a newcomer.
“Knowing what it can be like on the other side of the coin, to have the language barriers, to not know the local culture and try to learn it and start from scratch, that experience was pretty overwhelming but very positive and wonderful,” said Smith.
He said his experience abroad is what made him want to come home to P.E.I. and help other newcomers in turn.
Out in the community
Smith said he has been spending time introducing himself to new members of the community and providing information.
“It might be familiar to local Islanders where you can find different various services but when you’ve never lived here before and it’s your first time there are often things you need to find out,” he said.
That information includes how to get a health card, how to get a social insurance number and where social events and activities are held, Smith said.
“It’s all about connecting the dots and helping people connect with others and find those services,” he said.
Trying to fill service gaps
In his first three months, Smith said he has already noticed “transportation gaps,” and a lack of available housing.
He said people are happy about the new community navigator project.
“We’re getting a lot of positive feedback, people are excited over this service,” he said.
The pilot project is being funded by an almost $50,000 contribution from ACOA with an additional $32,000 coming from the province.