Irish immigrants get helping hand

Authentic portrait of St PatrickImage via Wikipedia
MONTREAL - It's tough slogging to find work and friends in a new city, let alone a new country, so the St. Patrick's Society is offering a helping hand and a little fun for new Irish immigrants to Montreal.
On Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m., an evening of networking and integration will be held at the Irish Embassy, a pub on Bishop St. - not to be confused with the Embassy of Ireland in Ottawa.
With dire economic difficulties gripping much of Ireland along with large job losses, a program of working holiday visas has been established by the Canadian government.
An agreement between Canada and Ireland to allow 12-month open work permits has recently been extended from one to two terms, or from 12 to 24 months. Beyond that, those who wish to stay can ask an employer to sponsor them.
Applicants for this working holiday scheme must be between 18 and 35 years of age.
Last year, 4,000 allocations were given to Irish immigrants for these special visas; for this year, the number was increased to 5,000.
The purpose of this planned Irish evening is to give recent arrivals a warm welcome and some practical advice, including where to live, where to look for jobs and how to meet someone who will put their CV in the right hands.
"It's who you know and friends of friends who help in times of job searches," said Ruth Hanna, one of the organizers of the Feb. 3 event.
"The historical mission of the St. Patrick's Society was to care for new arrivals but there hasn't been much need for this in the recent past," Hanna said.
"When I arrived here in 1999, I looked for Irish organizations, and there were some, but none that catered to native-born Irish."
Hanna emphasized that while there will be some recruitment agents and potential employers invited to the event, this is by no means a job fair.
"It's comforting to meet others from where you come from," said Erin Matheson, office manager of theS t. Patrick's Society.
"This is our first event and we'll see what the needs are."
Registration before Friday is strongly recommended. Call 514-481-1346.

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