Atwood, who has lived in Yarmouth for 13 years, studied international relations at a federal university in Nigeria and was elected as vice-president of the international relations department at her university. She serves as a public advocate for the Cancer Society and has served as president of the Business and Professional Women's club in Yarmouth and Nova Scotia.
She was the Nova Scotia representative for CUSO Atlantic and is involved with a number of other local, provincial and national organizations. She has worked with the Children’s Aid Society and in Thailand as a Child Welfare Officer where she was responsible for raising funds to establish rural childcare centres.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to bring her on board as part of the team,” said Andrew Button, executive director for Lunenburg Queens Regional Development Agency (RDA), which is administrating the program.
‘You put together a job description and you start to have that ideal candidate in mind. Someone who is outgoing, is passionate about that particular area of responsibility, and is well connected and respected in their community. When Delores came in for her interview, we knew we’d found the right person. There was no question,” he said.
The Lunenburg Queens RDA has an immigration newcomer navigator of its own - Anne Fownes – who has been covering this area since January.
Button says that once official contracts were signed from various funding partners, they were in a position to hire a navigator for Yarmouth County.
The program is funded by three organizations – the Nova Scotia Association of Regional Development Authorities (which receives funding from ACOA and Economic Development), the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration, and Canadian Immigration and Citizenship.
In the past, Yarmouth’s immigration newcomer navigator was administrated through a partnership between the Western Counties Regional Library and South West Shore Development Authority with funding from the Immigration Settlement Program of the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration.
Diane Saulnier held the position from 2006 to mid-2009, followed by Andrew Pace.
“The folks that were involved with the service in the past did a fantastic job,” said Button.
“For us it really became a logistics issue. If we were to have someone out of our base in Bridgewater cover the Yarmouth area, it’s a two and a half hour drive each way, plus all the expenses associated with that. We thought that money could be better invested to have someone on the ground in this community.”
With no RDA for this region, Button says the Lunenburg Queens RDA is in a position to help.
“From an agency’s standpoint, anything that helps to bring new people into communities all along the South Shore, anything that helps to develop business and industry, is of interest to us. We very much take a regional approach. What’s good for Yarmouth and Shelburne counties also has benefits for Lunenburg Queens.
“Over the past five years we’ve really noticed the connection between business growth, workplace development and immigration.
“We’re part of a provincial association. Whatever we can do to help with the development of our neighbouring communities, I think it’s a good thing.”
Button adds that partnerships with the municipal units, businesses, community organizations, and community members at large are critically important to attracting and keeping people in the community.
“As the African proverb states ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, it takes an entire community to welcome a newcomer,” he said.
Between 2005 and 2009, 537 landed immigrants were recorded for the Lunenburg/Queens/Shelburne/Yarmouth region.
The Newcomer Navigation Program in Yarmouth County served 112 clients from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011.
Dolores Atwood can be reached at 902-742-5364, or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org