By: Lindsay Santos

Photo by Beng Ong

A non-profit organization and community leader in providing settlement and integration services to immigrants and refugees in Alberta, the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) has recently enhanced its pre-arrival program by partnering with the Settlement Online Pre-Arrival (SOPA) program.  With Immigrant Services of Nova Scotia (ISANS ) as the lead organization, SOPA is administered in nine provinces across Canada.

“SOPA helps immigrants integrate faster through five facilitated and self-guided online courses on job search strategies, soft skills, workplace culture and Canadian culture: processes and systems that they have to be familiar with even before they arrive,” Cultural Communications Facilitator Rubirose Ong says.

“In essence, SOPA ensures that approved Permanent Residents are already prepared with a resume that meets Canadian employers’ standards, and know what to do and what to expect before they land in Canada.”

Resources like online chat rooms and email contacts of intake counselors and course facilitators are made available to SOPA clients who can discuss the best employment strategies, the labour market and workplace situations.

“The self-guided courses help immigrants understand the workplace integration and the human resources side of employment such as contracts, income tax, labour laws and employer expectations,” says Ong says.

The courses offered are Job Search Strategies (JSS), Soft Skills focused on Professional Communications, Soft Skills focused on Working with Others, Canadian Workplace Integration, and Working in Canada. All courses are free and given within the context of the Canadian workplace culture.

“Being able to understand the job search process and how the culture is here in Canada will greatly help Filipinos in terms of managing their expectations and being more prepared even before they arrive,” Ong says.

“It is really very useful and beneficial to our kababayans. It decreases the stress and anxiety that immigrants go through with the big changes in their lives.”

More information can be found at and social networking accounts:

Twitter: SOPA_AB