Eastman Immigrant Services is funded by the Governments of Canada and Manitoba, and has been supporting newcomers and immigrants in Southern Manitoba for 20 years. In addition to working with newcomers EIS is invested in working together with community partners to support welcoming newcomers to Eastern Manitoba.
Michelle Bezditny | Executive Director
Languages spoken: English
Michelle Bezditny has been employed with the Steinbach Chamber since 2013. Born and raised in Southeast Manitoba, she has a huge heart for this community and is passionate about supporting diversity in the region. At the top of her list of favourites are traveling, reading and enjoying Thai food. Michelle and her husband Russ have three incredible daughters who keep them busy and loving life.
Gwen Reimer | Program Director
Languages spoken: English, Low German,
Gwen has lived in Canada all her life but loves the cultural diversity of the country. She received a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies in 2013 and taught English as a Second Language for 15 years before she started her role as the Program Director for Eastman Immigrant Services. The time in the classroom impacted her love and understanding of different cultures and gave her a greater awareness of the joys and challenges of newcomers to Canada. Gwen and her husband live in Blumenort, MB, love to ride motorcycle and have two boys. She loves to read, garden and travel.
Marina Klassen | Receptionist
Languages spoken: English, High German,
Marina has been with Eastman Immigrant Services since 2006 and has enjoyed meeting newcomers from all around the world, assisting them with various settlement needs. She was born in Steinbach, but has lived outside of Canada for over 20 years. She studied overseas and has worked in an international organization in Vienna, Austria. Marina enjoys traveling, and has visited over 30 countries.
Amber Reitsma | Communications
Languages spoken: English
Born and raised right here in southeast Manitoba, Amber has enjoyed life in Canada. As a young girl, she did not experience much cultural diversity around her, but moving to the big city of Ottawa for university changed that for her in the best way possible. Amber received a bachelor’s degree in English and Communications in 2007 from Carleton University and has been working in the communications/public relations field ever since. She began working as the Communications Coordinator on a contract-basis with the Steinbach Chamber in 2016, and started doing the same for EIS in 2020. Amber, her husband, and three children live in the country between Steinbach and La Broquerie. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, gardening, chasing chickens and chauffeuring her children to all the things.
Erna Friesen | Settlement Facilitator
Languages spoken: English, Spanish, German,
Erna was born in Paraguay to Canadian parents and moved to Canada at the age of 7. She still vividly remembers the joys and struggles of adapting to a new culture. She lived in Canada until 2007 when she, along with her husband and 3 children moved to Bolivia for 10 years to work for a Canadian Mission Organization. It was there that she once again experienced the joys and struggles of adapting to a new culture. She has a Diploma in Biblical Counseling and gathered a wealth of understanding and experiences in getting to know several different people groups and languages.
Theo Muthumwa | Settlement Facilitator
Languages spoken: English, French, Swahili, Lingala, Kinande,
Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Theo arrived in Canada in 2009. He graduated with a Health Care Aide Certificate from University of St. Boniface and completed a Bachelor of Peace & Conflict Transformational Studies and Biblical Studies at Canadian Mennonite University. He also graduated with a Master of Arts in Counseling Ministry at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in 2020, and holds both a Bible Study and Early Childhood Management Diploma. Theo is a church planter with Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba and a pastor of Philadelphia Miracle Ministries since 2013. Previously, Theo has worked as a Health Care Aide, a Residential Support Worker, and as an Educational Assistant in the French School Division (DSFM). Theo is married and has three sons and one daughter. He likes to help newcomers with their integration into the Canadian system and enjoys providing counseling services and assisting people in his community. In his free time, you might find Theo playing soccer or reading a good book.
Viktoria Vladmirova | Employment Facilitator
Languages spoken: English, Russian,
Viktoria was born in Russia, but at a very early age, she moved to Kazakhstan and then to Kaliningrad where she graduated with a Bachelors in Education. In 2003, she immigrated to Steinbach along with her family. She has been working for EIS since 2005 and has taken many courses in career planning and employment coaching, including interview and job search skills. Her life experience has given her the abilities to work with internationals in organizing their goals and interviewing them to find out their talents. She loves spending free time with her two boys, reading, traveling and giving gifts.
Komal Mahant | Volunteer & Integration Coordinator
Languages spoken: English, Hindi, Gujarati,
Komal is from incredible India. She has completed her Master of Science in mathematics, Bachelor of Education from Sardar Patel University, India, Diploma in I.T. , and a diploma in Business Administration (from England). She was assistant lecturer in business mathematics in Sardar Patel university, India. Komal also obtained a Child Care Assistant certificate from Red River College. Her passion is working with children and helping to meet their needs. She is interested in working with different culture communities. She loves to cook international food, play with children and listen to music.
Marcel Marinho | Eastman Region Immigration Partnerships Coordinator
Languages spoken: English, Spanish, Portuguese,
Marcel was born in Brazil, graduated from University of Wales in Missional Leadership and has a bachelor’s degree in Nursing. Former CEO for a non-profit organization in Brazil, Marcel arrived in Canada in 2017 with a wealth of knowledge in community development. He loves diversity and trying out foods from different cultures. Learn more about Eastman Region Immigration Partnerships.
Rene Schulz | SWIS Worker
Languages spoken: English, High German,
René was born and raised in Germany. He moved to Canada in 2006 and completed his high school diploma. He pursued Biblical Studies in Germany.
Back in Canada he attended Providence University to complete his M.A. in TESOL. In 2018 he went to Japan for a year to teach English as a Second Language (ESL). Through his studies and international experience, he is fully aware of all the hardship and challenges that newcomers face when moving into a new country. René is married and has two children. He enjoys connecting with children and teenagers. His hobbies include LEGO, running, Kendo, and board games.
Danica Laluan | SWIS Worker
Languages spoken: English, Tagalog, Ilucano,
Danica Jejune Laluan was born and raised in the Philippines. In the year 2016, Danica and her family moved to Canada. Upon arrival, she had to go back to high school to obtain her secondary diploma. Afterwards, she attended the University of Manitoba and obtained a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Psychology. She has worked as an Autism Tutor and a Direct Support Professional Worker for various non-profit organizations here in Manitoba. During her spare time, Danica likes to read books, watch TV shows and travel.
Amanda Brown | SWIS Worker (Interlake)
Languages spoken: English
Amanda moved to Arborg in 2016 and loves calling Arborg ‘home’ with her partner, Steven, and two daughters, Sophia and Kallie. She grew up on a grain/cattle farm north west of Brandon that her family operates to this day. Growing up in a small rural community helped instill a sense of purpose as Amanda’s family was actively involved in the community. This has served to grow her love of community togetherness. Prior to moving to Arborg, Amanda lived in Winnipeg where she worked with high-risk youth in Adolescent Treatment Homes. Her passion has always been working with and helping people. Another passion of hers is music. From a young age, she enjoyed singing and has participated in many choirs.
HIPPY Home Visitor (Part-time) – Arborg
HIPPY Home Visitor (Part-time) – Steinbach
HIPPY Coordinator (Part-time)
Settlement Partner (Volunteer)
One-to-One Citizenship Tutor (Volunteer)
Language Buddy (Volunteer)
Citizenship Class Facilitator (Volunteer)
When we were newcomers to Canada, EIS welcomed us. When we needed to learn English to work, EIS helped us. When we applied for nomination to the province and for permanent residence, EIS supported us during the whole process. We love them.
- Oscar Rada & Catherine Sanchez