'Future of my kids' the motive behind Filipino man's move to Kent County

Business is brisk three months after the satellite office of the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area opened an office in Kent County.

Newcomers are being helped by satellite office of Moncton immigration organization

Val Lagumbay, with his two-year-old daughter Lianna, says he came to Kent County for a better future for his kids. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News )

Three months after the satellite office of the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area opened its doors in Kent County, settlement counsellor Sharla Goodwin is busy welcoming newcomers.

So far, she has 26 clients from the Philippines, 21 of them working at the Imperial Manufacturing Group.

The heating and ventilation company is trying to fill its workforce and encourages families of employees to come along and settle in the community.

That idea appealed to Val Lagumbay and his family. They moved to Richibucto on Dec. 11.

"I was thinking about the future of my kids," he said.

Lagumbay has worked abroad before, but he said having his wife and three children with him has made a huge difference.

He said his family made a conscious choice to move to New Brunswick for a future with a steady job and good benefits.

And he said people have been welcoming.

"They accepted us wholeheartedly," he said. "They welcome us just like any other new residents in Canada."

Sharla Goodwin is with the satellite office of the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area in Kent County. She says her job is doing anything she can to help newcomers settle in. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News)

Lagumbay is also happy to have Sharla Goodwin and the multicultural association in the community, helping him navigate his new life.

"They help us a lot actually in terms of information with the province and also during the time when I have no car yet," he said.

"She's the one that's transported us from place to place where we can go to the supermarket, for example, or if we have to do something with our paperwork and Service Canada or Service New Brunswick."

Goodwin said her job is to do anything she can to make life easier for the newcomers.

Two are now enrolled in school in the area.

"There are some little ones as well, two three-year-olds, so we try to get them linked up with the family resource centre for Kent County," Goodwin said.

"And we have play groups and different activities that they do, so I'll drive them there and try to get them out of the house and meeting some new people."

Goodwin said this group of immigrants doesn't need a lot of help.

"I think it's just to take out kind of the unknown, just to accompany them," she said. "I think that's the biggest thing because they're all very independent, honestly.

"It's not like dealing with a refugee population. These are all very independent, skilled, a lot of educated people as well, so they don't need a lot of hand-holding, but it's just to help them make things a little easier."

Jerome Salamana arrived Jan.18 from Manila, the capital of the Philippines with a population more than 1.7 million.

Jerome Salamana is happy with his new job at the Imperial Manufacturing Group in Richibucto. But he gets emotional thinking about his family, still in the Phillipines. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News )

Unlike Lagumbay, Salamana is in New Brunswick by himself, waiting for his family to join him, a process that could take some time.

"I'm not used to living without my family," he said. "We always chat every day through video chat, but I still miss them."

Salamana tears up thinking about his wife and two children so far away.

But he is encouraged by the thought they'll be with him in New Brunswick eventually.

"When I [am] working with my machine, I always think of them. What are they doing right now, or are they sleeping right now."

He imagines a future in Kent County.

"Probably in five to 10 years from now I'll have my own house, still living here, with my family, and probably one of my kids or both of them will probably have their own jobs as well," he said.

The new satellite office of the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area in Richibucto. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News)

Goodwin hopes to welcome more newcomers to the region.

"It's critical almost, and if we didn't bring people in, some businesses may have to close or move elsewhere and then the jobs of those who are working there currently, their jobs are in jeopardy as well," she said.

"So it's important to be able to bring people in, support them well, get them settled and for the whole community to be welcoming them and being open to having them here, because otherwise, New Brunswick's population is declining and immigration is the only way it's not going to continue to decline."