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Friendship makes home

Helen and Sherilyn, Philippines  

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Helen and Sherilyn first met at ICA through the English Pronunciation Practice workshop over the summer of 2023. Connecting over their experiences of growing up in and immigrating from the Philippines, they became friends quickly and started to keep in touch by texting and meting up outside of ICA.  

Helen arrived in Victoria in 2019 and was approved for Permanent Residency in March 2020 right when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Thankfully, Helen had family in Victoria already – her daughter, who had just given birth to her first son, supported her through the immigration and settling process.  Helen recounted her memories of arriving in Canada. It was December and freezing cold. But Helen, who had never experienced a Canadian winter arrived at the airport in slip-on sandals. Her daughter picked her up prepared with snow boots.  

Sherilyn moved to Canada with her younger brother just last year (2022) and joined their mother who had immigrated to Canada over a decade prior. Sherilyn also has uncles, aunts, and cousins living in Vancouver. She explained the feelings of moving through the motions in her first year settling in Victoria – going to work, coming home, over and over in a cycle. She felt a bit lost and as an introvert felt like it was difficult to make connections and friendships.  

Both Helen and Sherilyn learned about ICA through personal referrals. Helen’s neighbour was a client of ICA’s and encouraged her to connect with us. Sherilyn’s mother was a client when she first arrived in Victoria and received support to find employment – she knew there would be resources she could access here.  

Helen doesn’t live near downtown Victoria and has to take two buses from her home to get to ICA for her English classes and programs. At first, this was quite a struggle. She recounted how helpful it was to get support from our Digital Skills Facilitator, Glen, to become familiar with using Google Maps. With Glen’s help, they planned out the best public transit routes and now Helen comes to ICA with a bit more ease.   

Sherilyn is grateful that through ICA’s programs she has not only met Helen but also other friends. She’s become more confident with her speaking. And overall, has felt that ICA is a safe place to learn and meet people while participating in fun activities.  

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