Homestead Co-op had a table at the career fair this past week in Portage where Ukrainian newcomers were looking for work in searching for a community to make their homes. 

Resource advisor Tammy Hammersley says they received a lot of great prospects.

"We are getting a lot of good people coming through, asking lots of questions and wanting to know what Co-op is all about and we've had a handful of them saying that they would be interested in applying," says Hammersley. "So, we've been giving them our QR code so they can apply online."

HammersleyTammy Hammersley (left)

Hammersley says they do have a handful of positions available.

EF Moon human resource manager Jackie Kent was there, too, and notes what she's seen is that Ukrainians are intrigued with the job prospects here.  

"They're excited that they can start as a labourer, that we train them, and can grow them into operators or foremen -- wherever they want to go," says Kent. "They like the idea that they hope they can start easy and then grow into anything they want."

Jackie KentJackie Kent

She notes there are a few people who said they liked to start tomorrow. 

"There is a lot of interest for right-now work," adds Kent. "There is work right now in a labour position. If they have some experience on operating, there is that opportunity." 

Regional campus manager for Red River College Polytechnic Portage Guy Moffat noted he's had plenty of activity at his table.

"I am extremely impressed with how well this event is going and the organization behind it," explains Moffat. "I had an opportunity to speak with Mayor Ferris, who said that they had to contract a second bus, sort of, in short notice, and the number of people through is really impressive. Also, communication has not been as much of a barrier as I was expecting. I had a few people who stopped at the table and they were telling me that their English wasn't very good. I was explaining that I could understand them just fine and their English was way better than my Ukrainian."

Moffat McDonaldCindy McDonald and Guy Moffat of Portage Chamber

Moffat says he enjoyed a few really good conversations and saw a lot of interest in what Red River College Polytech has.

Moffat's also interim president of the Portage and District Chamber of Commerce, and from that perspective, he adds it was outstanding. 

"To see the community come behind this and these individuals that have been displaced from their home country, and just extending our arms out, welcoming them in, and showing them everything that we've got to offer here is moving. It's beyond impressive."

He says Portage is a wonderful community.

"It would be great to have a brand new group of individuals bringing their culture into our community," adds Moffat. "I'm just really excited to see that we are doing this and we're opening our arms and we're accepting and being as hospitable as we are." 

Portage Mayor Irvine Ferris says the turnouts were amazing. 

"We were expecting one busload of folks, and there are two busloads here," says Mayor Ferris. "I had the opportunity to meet a lot of these folks, and they're certainly interested in our community. They're looking at what employment opportunities might be. Here, quite a few of them have kids with them, so they're obviously interested in our schools, recreation and that kind of thing. So it's really great to see the turn out here today."

MayorPortage Mayor Irvine Ferris

He adds many told him they like Portage much more than Winnipeg, noting Portage was smaller but so clean and nice.
Organizer Blair Hordeski informed us that there were already a few people who found jobs as a result of the career fair. He notes McCain Foods so graciously donated food for their lunch, and he's so appreciative of all the businesses that sponsored the event and displayed tables for visitors to visit.