Can I Use English in My Life?

We all know there are social advantages to bilingualism or multilingualism, but did you know there are also health benefits to being able to speak more than one language? Researchers have found that people who speak more than one language are more likely to have faster stroke recoveries and delayed onset of dementia among other benefits (

Eastman Immigrant Services is proud to offer English classes to newcomers in the area who want to learn or improve their English skills. At various times throughout the year, we offer the following classes:

  • Technology Skills
  • Canadian Language Benchmarks 5,6,7
  • Pronunciation
  • Communication for Truck Drivers

Our instructors – Amy Armstrong, Freddy Muganza, and Josie Fast – are passionate about teaching the English language and love the interaction with and between the students. Click here to view current English courses being offered.

So why study English? What does it help?

Reasons for Learning English:

1. You will discover that English is easy to learn.

Most people think that learning a language is very difficult. However, it is easier for certain people to learn English because English is related to their native language. For example, for people from Europe who are learning English, they find that English is closely related to their languages. German is very close to English. French has influenced English a lot.

2. You can find more job opportunities.

Many companies around the world require their employees to speak English. In some cases, companies require their workers to only use English. By learning English, you can be well-prepared for resume writing, interviews and communicating with the supervisor and your fellow employees.

3. You can become better educated.

Improving your English language skills can help you further your education. Many colleges and universities require a CLB 6+ for enrollment into their classes. English classes can help you improve your English writing, reading, speaking and listening skills. If you are looking at furthering your education for a certain technical skill, classes are available for this as well. For example, if you want to advance from a Health Care Worker to a Nurse, our Communication for Health Care Aides focuses on learning skills for nursing.

4. You can easily travel anywhere in the world.

I traveled to Germany and found that I could easily communicate my needs and preferences with the little bit of High German I had learned. English is no different. In fact, English is the global language.

5. You will learn about culture.

Language and culture cannot be separated. Language is a part of culture, and culture involves language. Simply said, knowing English will give you a better understanding of people who live in English-speaking countries. Knowing the English language gives you more insight into how people think, live and work. If you do not know about the culture of English-speaking countries, this might lead to misunderstanding what people are saying in English.

It is not enough to just know basic words and phrases. To communicate well in English, you must know about things like tone, body language and facial expressions. You might think an English speaker is being crass, rude or dismissive when they are not! If you understand which words or expressions are acceptable and unacceptable in English-speaking cultures, this might save you from a cultural misunderstanding with your English-speaking friends and coworkers.

6. You can improve your confidence.

As you improve your English your communication skills will increase. You will learn and use idioms (expressions) correctly. As you learn and use the English language, you will be able to interpret or translate for others.

7. You will exercise your brain.

Sometimes we need to do something with our brain to keep it stimulated. Learning English, especially in Canada, is great for this. Many classes are free and often offered online so you can study from the comfort of your own home.

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Studying English – Testimonials from Students

I feel stressed when struggling with my communication in English. I sometimes do not understand what people say in specific circumstances. So I need to ask to fully understand. In daily life, I am allowed to ask, but I am studying flying right now. In the air, the pilot is required to have smooth communication for safety, especially in the South Steinbach area due to uncontrolled space. Another reason is that I would like to live in Canada for 15 years as a pilot after getting my pilot’s license. I need a full-time job to get permanent residence and I need to speak English well to do so. ~ Takashi

First of all, I started my English class because I wanted to improve my English skills. During this time, I have seen very positive progress in fluency and pronunciation. I have noticed my progress in the intonation of words thanks to the information received in our classes. I want to continue working on learning new vocabulary and further improve my pronunciation.

Second, I want to start my academic program in Canada. I hope to study business administration – financial services. The program starts in September, so I must have the level of English required to continue my studies.

Finally, I want to have better job opportunities and become a Canadian citizen. In the future, I want to finish my studies. I would like to work for an insurance or financial company as Finance Manager and live in Canada for many more years. ~ Mary Arango

Our Story Hosting a Ukrainian Family Seeking Refuge in Canada

We were so sad when we heard that the war had broken out in the Ukraine. When we heard that Ukrainians were seeking refuge in Canada, we decided that we wanted to welcome Ukrainian families into our home. We prepared our home so that they would have a comfortable and private space to call their own while they were living with us.

Needless to say, we were thrilled when we found the first family that we would welcome into our home from the Ukraine, and we eagerly awaited their arrival in Canada.

On June 1, 2022, we were finally able to welcome Volodymyr, Nadia, and their 11-year-old son Ivan at the Winnipeg airport. It’s a day that we will likely never forget. They got off the plane each carrying one backpack and they shared one duffel bag between them. Life reduced to the minimum. After a long trip, they were tired.

Our first stop immediately after their arrival was the Welcome Centre in Winnipeg, where they completed paperwork and were able to get their Manitoba Health Card and Social Insurance Number. After a few hours there, we were finally able to make our way home.

Despite having travelled through the night, Volodymyr and Nadia still had energy left to stop at Walmart and get a few items that they needed. Arriving at our home, we showed them “their” space. They had their own private space; however, we shared the kitchen with them which worked great. Nadia cooked Ukrainian meals and baked delicious cakes.

Volodymyr and Nadia quickly learned where to shop in Steinbach and found their favourite stores, MCC among them.

Many details and errands needed doing, such as setting up a bank account, getting a Manitoba driver’s license, doctor’s appointments, looking for a car, job hunting, and finding a place to live. Thank goodness for google translate, which we utilized for the many appointments that they attended and to communicate with them. We were also very thankful for Steinbach Immigration Centre, who provided them with assistance with things such as creating resumes.

We were in awe of Volodymyr and Nadia’s determination and drive to start their new life in Steinbach, and of their positive and cheerful attitude. Within two weeks of their arrival, they had an apartment and were ready to move out.

At one point we were wondering how we would get all the household items and furniture that they would need for their apartment. Thankfully, the Steinbach community gave generously and we could pick up all that was needed for them at the Southland Church. This was amazing and extremely helpful. So many volunteers doing a wonderful job fulfilling their and others’ wish lists. They were also able to find additional items at garage sales.

It gives us great joy to see Volodymyr, Nadia, and Ivan settled in their own home, learning English, and getting to know people in Steinbach.

All of this could not have been accomplished without the help of the generous people in our community. Thank you so much! It really does take a Village.

The Brave Ones

Moving to a new country is not for the faint of heart. Learning a new language, new culture and of course, weather can be daunting. Every year, people from around the globe take the risks of moving from their home countries to a new one, facing obstacles that are overwhelming, leaving loved ones for the hope of a future.

Vic is one of the brave ones. When Vic was a kid, he and his siblings watched a movie that sparked the idea of moving to Canada. Vic wanted to have a life of opportunity. But, as time passed, ideas faded, and Vic soon forgot about his dream of something different.

When his sister immigrated to Canada years later, something stirred in Vic and the dream of moving to a land of opportunity awakened.

Vic, a jeepney driver at the time, realized that his dream was not going to happen if he didn’t make big changes in his life. In 2016, he decided to become a truck driver in another country. This had its own set of challenges – there were few regulations in this country and working conditions were dangerous. Late one night, while Vic was desperately trying to stay awake at the wheel, he watched a blogger who talked about the need for truck drivers in Canada. Vic knew this is what he wanted to do but there were challenges that needed to be overcome – namely writing an English test that cost close to a month’s salary.

For one year, using YouTube as his teacher, Vic studied for the IELTS test (language proficiency test). There were more requirements – police check, application fees, medicals – in total Vic spent $3,000 CDN which could cover six months of food and bills in his home country. Once he arrived in Manitoba, he needed to be prepared for the additional costs – housing, food, vehicle, and training.

“It’s like I spent my wealth here, because that money, if spent wisely, it could cover up to six months of food and bills.” ~ Vic Roumel Gutierrez

The day Vic stepped on the plane to leave for Canada, his five-year-old daughter begged him not to go. Vic had missed a significant portion of his son and daughter’s lives while he was away driving in another country. They had finally spent time together during the year before he left. And now, daddy was leaving. His daughter didn’t need any of the things he promised he would buy her. She only wanted her daddy nearby. Nothing else mattered to her.

Vic left that day hoping, one day soon, his family would join him in Canada where his daughter and son would have the life he had always wanted for them, with him there to watch them have the opportunities he never had.

To Save My Daughters

My story is one that you can only watch in the news, movies, or crime stories. My situation in Mexico was like all those who enjoyed social and economic stability because we had access to studies at the university. However, despite my comfortable life, I was forced to leave my country due to the high level of violence experienced every day, leaving my parents and siblings in that scenario.

As everyone knows, Mexico has a huge problem with drug cartels. Sadly, there are other income sources for them like kidnapping, sex trafficking, and extortion. One objective of these gangs is to kidnap girls between the ages of twelve and fourteen so that they can be treated as sex slaves, sold in the sex trade, or held for ransom. When my daughters were that age, the fear that someone would take them by force and we would never see them again was one of the worst nightmares for me and my wife. Going to the police is a bad idea. Criminal gangs have infiltrated all levels of government. There is no security for families and especially for women.

Another reason that led us to leave Mexico was that shootings began to take place outside the elementary schools in the town where we lived. On one occasion, a girl died in a school bus from a stray bullet during a shooting. Can you imagine the fear of living like this every day?

My solution was to apply for a Canadian student visa and invest my savings in paying for international student tuition. I was able to bring my family legally, and my daughters were able to start a safe life in this country. My wife had to work for three years in two full-time jobs to pay our expenses and mortgage. Now I am able to work full-time and I hope, little by little, to pay off my debts derived from a long immigration process.

Currently, I have a BA in Human Rights with a minor in Conflict and Resolution Studies from the University of Winnipeg. One of my goals is to help families who have come to Canada looking for a safe life. I feel that the first step has already been taken by joining Eastman Immigrant Services as a Settlement Facilitator.

Tarun Gola’s Story

I am a new immigrant in Steinbach and have lived here for the last nine months. My journey to Steinbach started back in January 2020 when I started to look for business opportunities across Manitoba. I had been looking for the right opportunity and ended up visiting cities such as Brandon, Beausejour, Winnipeg, and lastly Steinbach. I was looking for good fit for a school for my daughter, business opportunity and housing altogether as a package. After a long year’s journey, I found JT’s Store and Diner in Blumenort to be in line with what I was looking for and purchased the business in July 2020. The Steinbach Credit Union and Smith Neufeld Jodoin LLP in Steinbach assisted us with the property transaction.

Eastman Immigrant Services (EIS) was also a part of this successful journey.

First, I called up and left a message and asked whether EIS could provide support for school registration in Steinbach. The following day, I was contacted by Rene Schulz, the Settlement Worker in School (SWIS), who not only described the process but also provided all the forms over the email. He provided assistance in filling out those forms. The best thing was that he followed up with the school and provided me with feedback about the child’s acceptance in the school. He further advised me to follow the rest of the process and provided the key contacts to move forward. As a result of this, I could secure admission for my daughter in the school; even while my daughter was still in India at that time and was scheduled to travel a month later. This gave us a great sense of relief while settling down in Steinbach with first positive reinforcement you may say.

Another instance was my struggle with a temporary resident visa and work permit. I contacted the Eastman Immigrant Services office again for this. I was given an appointment and was provided with explanations about the differences between the documents. This session was really useful as it saved me a lot of hassle and time. All this happened with just a one phone call and appointment. Appointments at EIS are easy to make and the availability of services personnel is the key here, no waiting!!

Recently, I was looking for notary services in the Steinbach area and came across these services at EIS. I was not sure how to render the service, so I called and fixed an appointment for the same. To my surprise, they provided notary services by verifying all my original documents, as this was immigration related. Services, again, were prompt. I found the staff personal to be very professional and helpful and she verified all my documents and attested my papers.

The best part is that these services are offered without costing you anything. I must say that staff is subject matter experts in their areas and cooperative. Overall, for me this has been an amazing experience. I recommend new immigrants to use their services and feel the difference. I bet that their approachability and availability will definitely surprise you!

A big thank you to Eastman Immigrant Services for an overwhelming response; you guys rock. And the assistance that I got from Steinbach Credit Union made every day simple and comfortable by their services. Smith Neufeld Jodoin LLP lawyer(s) still support me with many other things relating to the business.

We are very delighted and enjoying our stay in Steinbach and running the business in Blumenort, immigration to Manitoba has been a successful decision!

Beyond the Perimeter Winnipeg to Steinbach

Eastman Immigrant Services has been welcoming supporting newcomers and immigrants in Southern Manitoba for 20 years, working together with community partners.

Many newcomers moving to Manitoba settle in Winnipeg, and do not have many opportunities to learn about communities beyond the perimeter. On March 9th, 2021, newcomers joined an online event to learn about Steinbach, including hearing from local employers, service providers, and listen to the experience of newcomers to Canada that are living in Steinbach.

At the virtual event, organized by New Journey Housing, MANSO, Eastman Immigrant Services, and MIIC (Welcome Place), participants were welcomed by Earl Funk, Mayor of Steinbach, and watched a video about Eastern Manitoba. The event featured presentations by Loewen Windows, Southern Health, and Exceldor (formerly Granny’s Poultry) about employment opportunities, and by Realtor Keith Unger, about the local housing market. Newcomers also learned about services available to help them settle and integrate in the community, including school and daycare options in the city. The event closed with a presentation by a newcomer and about their experience moving from Winnipeg to Steinbach themselves.

The hope of this tour is to provide newcomers with choices and correct information about what it would be like to live in a smaller centre outside of Winnipeg.

Looking to the Horizon

I am Freddy Munyololo Muganza, a university professor who has decided to live in Steinbach, a city at the outskirts of Winnipeg, the capital city of the province of Manitoba. I have been married to Detty Juwe Kajuru for sixteen years and we have five children including a set of twins. Originally from Democratic Republic of Congo, I immigrated to South Africa in 2000 during a time of war in my country.

Holding a Bachelor of Science Honors in Chemistry, I could not get a job in South Africa due to my status as a refugee and to the language barrier. With little English knowledge, I decided to pursue my education through sponsors who volunteered to sponsor refugees in South Africa who wanted to further their studies. Since I had a little knowledge of Academic English, I decided to repeat my Bachelor of Science (Honors) so that I could master Academic English at the University of Cape Town. I managed to complete my education and now have a PhD in Chemistry.

Life in South Africa would have been better if there was not visible systemic discrimination. Holding the highest degree university education could offer, I was always given contract positions which might be revoked at any time. Even though the given position was not assuring, I faced hatred and rejection from my colleagues who wanted me to vacate the position. The hatred was later understood because in South Africa jobs are very scarce.

On the other hand, our refugee statuses were never converted to permanent resident and citizenship, respectively, after living in the country for thirteen years. Even my children who were born in the country could not be given citizenship on the basis of birth. My children were always asked to go to the Democratic Republic of the Congo embassy for birth certificates. Life’s pressures surmounted from both sides, professionally and personally.

In 2015, my brother-in-law who lived in Ontario suggested I consider immigrating to Canada under the Professional Skilled Worker’s Program. Picturing all the struggles I was going through in South Africa, I was skeptical to look into that opportunity lest the repeat of the same struggle in another new country. After weighing all the options, such as the future of my children to have a country in which they are called citizens and also my professional career’s peace of mind, in 2016, I decided to look into that option of immigrating to Canada. The process took three years.

Coming to Canada with a family and with no promise of getting a job was risky, but for me nothing was riskier than what I went through in South Africa. From South Africa, we decided to come to Canada and live in Steinbach. Our fear was appeased when we found a welcoming and helping community of Steinbach. My wife and children have integrated into the new community and as for my professional career, I was able to get a job a month later after our arrival both in Pharmaceutical Company and Academia. Even though I did not get a job at the level of my qualification due to this so called “Canadian experience” there is light at the end of the tunnel for me and my family.

Coming to Canada was not a bad decision. Sometimes fear can make someone miss life’s opportunities but risk-taking pays if it is taken with maximum precautions. I am grateful to South Africa for life’s training for the past 19 years. Canada is now our new home and we are determined to make the most of it.

Kateryna Kryvolap – Recognized for Artwork

Kateryna Kryvolap is an artist, originally from Ukraine, who makes her home in Steinbach, Canada. She was raised and educated in an artistic family where she found her passion for fine art that was passed from generation to generation. Kateryna creates fine art of various styles but most commonly uses Petrykivka fine art technique. Since her inspiration comes from the ancient Ukrainian decorative folk art it is worth mentioning that Petrykivka was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Petrykivka technique is fundamentally unique due to extensive use of fine tip handcrafted brushes made of cat fur.

Since the time Kateryna moved to Canada, her love of Ukraine is being transformed into original artwork. Her paintings are composed of numerous fine elements which reflect a spirit of Ukrainian soul. Birds, flowers and guelder-roses represent happiness, health and wealth. Artist’s positive mood and powerful energy are transferred through her artwork to many customers and collectors from different countries and continents.

Her paintings over the past two years have been sold to collectors and art lovers in different parts of the world (Canada, USA, France, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Germany, Ukraine)

Kateryna Kryvolap is a common participant of international exhibitions throughout Europe and North America.

Volunteering at Eastman Immigrant Services

Cinthia Penner is part of the volunteer program at Eastman Immigrant Services. She volunteers as a language buddy. Her main role is to give an opportunity for a newcomer to practice English.

The Eastman Immigrant Services volunteer program exists to create meaningful opportunities for volunteers to support newcomers who are transitioning to the Eastman region. Through one-to-one contacts, small groups, and large community events, volunteers form an integral part of a positive settlement and integration experience. Eastman Immigrant Services wants each of our volunteers to get the most out of their time volunteering with us.

Our Volunteer Program is run through Volunteer Manitoba following the Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement. Volunteer involvement is vital for strong, inclusive and resilient communities. It is personal and builds relationships. We have seen some positive changes in individuals, relationships have been formed and cultural barriers broken.

Some of the ways in which volunteers can be involved are:

  • language buddy
  • citizenship class instructor
  • group leader (conversation classes)
  • settlement partner
  • interpreter
  • one-to-one citizenship test tutor
  • special events support

Benefits of volunteering include:

  • meeting new people
  • gaining work experience
  • developing leadership and communication skills
  • contributing skills and talents to helping people in your community
  • developing a broader understanding of, and appreciation for, other cultures, people, and worldviews

We look forward to meeting you and helping you connect with newcomers in our community!

Giving Back to the Community

Micheline Kizeza is a Canadian from the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). As a journalist and political refugee, she left her country in 2003. After her arrival in Canada she married and had two children. Her second child was born with sickle cell anemia.

Micheline talks about the struggles she had as a mother of a very sick child and the support she experienced from the health care system. Because of this positive experience, Micheline decided to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that she can give back to the community and make a difference in other people’s lives.