Becoming champions of refugees and immigrants

Volunteering is a great way to get to know new Canadians and the challenges they face.

Volunteering at IRCOM is a great way to get to know new Canadians and the challenges they face.

Every year, thousands of people emigrate from countries around the world to settle in Winnipeg. Some are refugees fleeing war-torn countries, others are immigrants looking to provide a better life for their family.

No matter what their situation, most need some support to ease their transition to their new country. Housing, employment, education, recreation and language, are just a few of the key areas they often need help with.

Talatu Shokpeka encounters these challenges on a daily basis. Shokpeka works as an employment counselor and facilitator at Success Skills Centre and as the community programs manager at Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM).

IRCOM is a non-profit organization that operates a transitional housing complex in downtown Winnipeg called IRCOM House Ellen. IRCOM House offers secure, affordable and clean apartments to newcomer families for up to three years after their arrival.

Shokpeka says volunteering at IRCOM is a great way to help out and to get to know many people who are new to Winnipeg and to Canada.

“We would like people to be champions of refugees,” says Shokpeka. “That will help get the word out that it’s not only those working in the community that say this, but other people should come and be involved and advocate. I think the more people we have talking about refugee issues, the better it will be.”

Recently, Talatu Shokpeka was a guest on the CKUW 95.9 FM program People of Interest. In this interview conducted by Susan Huebert, Shokpeka describes some of the challenges faced by immigrants and refugees and how Manitobans can get involved:

IRCOM Inc. is located at 95 Ellen Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3A 1S8
Phone 204.943.8765 Fax 204.943.4810 or email


I am a writer and editor with published articles on travel, science, technology, and other topics. Currently, I am working at a small archives in addition to my freelance writing and editing work.

One response to “Becoming champions of refugees and immigrants”

  1. Gloria Romaniuk

    Susan – this article is like sunshine! It shines light so something beautiful can grow. In this case, so we can remember basic values we sometimes forget. Not only that, it helps us see something we might otherwise miss.

    Here’s a thought. The Indigenous Peoples who first settled the continent brought with them a wealth of cultures and traditions. In the post-colonial decades of modern time, Canada emerged as distinct from its partners on the continent, particularly from the US. The US chose to call itself a melting pot. Canada, on the other hand, developed into what was defined and declared, forty years ago, a multicultural nation. Canada chose to celebrate differences in culture.

    The photos you include in your article are inspiring. From my perspective, we have so much to gain from teaching each other about ourselves. Education and mutual support chase away fear, misunderstanding and shadow. IRCOM is a model of Canadianism. Thanks for sharing this story with us!