British Columbia

Immigrant youth get schooled in Canadian education

Hundreds of immigrant families got a lesson in how Canadian high schools work at this year’s Newcomers Orientation and Welcome to B.C. event Monday morning.

The youth designed program offers families new to Canada a chance to get familiar with the school system

Over 500 families who are new to Canada registered for the NOW B.C. event to learn about the school system and where they can access the resources to help their children be successful in Vancouver schools. (CBC)

Hundreds of immigrant families got a lesson in how Canadian high schools work at this year's Newcomers Orientation and Welcome to B.C. (NOW B.C) event Monday morning.

More than 500 students registered for the orientation this year according to Jerry Wu, manager of the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) program, who says the event offers families a chance to get familiar with the way classes are run.

Jerry Wu is the manager of the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) program and helped the youth ambassadors facilitate Monday's NOW B.C. event. (CBC)

"For the parents, they feel much more comfortable because they are newcomers and the culture of their schools is very different from ours. Here, the parents are partners of the education with the schools," said Wu.

The event itself was organized by secondary students from around the Lower Mainland and was held at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary school in Vancouver.

Many of this year's volunteers are youth who participated in the program when they first arrived in Canada, including Hiva Rahnema, who moved from Iran just last year.

She says her experience with the program helped her make friends with other Persian students before the official start of the school year.

Hiva Rahnema is a youth ambassador for this week’s events but participated in the program when she arrived in Canada from Iran last year. Now she's helping new students settle in and adjust to the differences in Vancouver's school system. (CBC)

"After that I was really good friends with them, so the first day I went to school it wasn't that hard for me because I knew them. It was a lot easier for me to adjust," she said.

"The good thing is in Canada there's a lot of different cultures, so you don't feel alone because there are a lot of people that are like you."

Shiva Olyaei and her daughter, Niki, are returning to Canada and gladly took the opportunity to re-establish their connection to the school system after living in Iran for three years.

Ali Reza Sedghi Taromi with his daughter, Niki Olyaei, and wife, Shiva Olyaei, is happy to have a program welcoming them back to Canada after living in Iran for three years. (CBC)

"It's fantastic, especially for my daughter. It will boost her self confidence to return and, again, observe into the system because she has been away," said Shiva.

"I'm excited to come back," said Niki, who attended international schools while living in Iran. 

"There, it's a bit more competitive, while here, it's more about support and relaxation and teamwork."

Monday's orientation held information sessions for families in eight different languages, and further events offer two more days of programming for the youth.