“A stable life” is the modest hope of resilient refugee newcomer

October 8, 2019

“This is a story about perseverance and hard work; passion for success and giving everything to fight for a dream: this is the story of Anthony. When I met Anthony he was jobless and so new to Canada, I would have been terrified, but not him: he was hopeful and always had a big smile on his face, because no amount of hardship in Canada could ever compare to what he went through his whole life. He did not know much about Canada but as an LGBTQ person, he was excited to come to a country welcoming to the LGBTQ community and where he could express himself freely. It was so refreshing to witness his contagious enthusiasm and a zest for life.”

Monica Navarro
Life/Essential Skills Facilitator, Moving Ahead Program and case manager for Anthony Capacity.

Anthony Capacity, 35, was born in Uganda and lost his mom when he was 10. He was bumped from relative to family friends and back again until, at 15 and having come out as an LGBTQ person, he decided to go off on his own. (Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and can be punishable by death).

Being an orphan LGBTQ youth on his own in a society so unforgiving, added extra layers of complexity to Anthony’s already difficult life. However, he never lost his sense of purpose or the ability to look at the big picture.

Anthony enrolled at college, using savings and working to pay for his education and the degree he earned.  And unlike most other displaced Ugandans, Anthony did not live in a refugee camp, where residents are not generally permitted to seek work locally, but sought permission to have an “urban refugee” status so he could work and support himself outside of a camp.

Anthony was approved to come to Canada with a refugee status in June 2017 and almost immediately enrolled into the Moving Ahead Program. The program works predominantly with refugees and offers one-to-one, wrap-around case management services to support successful integration into Canadian communities.

Although Anthony had good English language skills (English is an official language in Kenya) he had no idea how to go about looking for work, he had no resume nor any knowledge of the Canadian workplace culture.

His case manager, Monica Navarro, began preparing Anthony for job searching.

First, she helped him to craft a resume, indicating the experience he had gained working as a restaurant cook in Kenya. She also referred him to Men’s Closet to get a professional-looking outfit for interviewing and referred him to the Opportunities Fund, where he was supported with short paid trainings to work in the food / services industry.

“This is a land of opportunities that gave me my life back.  Be ready to work hard and love what you are given; don’t undermine any job”.

Anthony was encouraged to attend a job fair for a local luxury hotel opening in Vancouver. There were hundreds of applicants at the event, but Anthony made such a good first impression that he was hired on the spot.

Anthony started as a dishwasher and within two months he was promoted to the position of Cook. Now it has been almost two years since he has worked at this hotel, and he has risen to the level of Cook 2, and completed the Professional Cook Certificate from Vancouver Community College (VCC).

He has been mentored by a Chef who sees immense potential in him, and repeatedly been encouraged to keep growing and to pursue positions with greater responsibility. Anthony has made connections and friends at work and through VCC and feels he has a network of support around him.

Anthony shared some thoughts and advice for other newcomers:

“This is a land of opportunities that gave me my life back.  Be ready to work hard and love what you are given; don’t undermine any job”.

Anthony’s hopes for his future seem modest, wishing for “a stable job and life style”.  Through his own hard work and determination, and with some support from MOSAIC and other organizations, it appears that he’s already well onto the path of that future.

If you are dealing with any of the following, our Moving Ahead Program offers services and support on dealing with hardships, gaining life skills, accessing community support and learning about Canadian culture. To learn more, please visit