From the Philippines to Yarmouth

Carla Allen
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Four Filipino immigrants to Yarmouth are looking forward to this summer with warmer temperatures and the chance to pick fruit fresh from bushes and trees.

Imagine arriving in Nova Scotia in February after leaving a homeland where temperatures were hovering around 35 to 40 degrees Celsius.

Jennie Jimenez, Joven Dimacali, Charlene Perez, Kristin Vilela are now training as shift managers for McDonalds in Yarmouth and plan on working here for at least two years.

They’ve left their families – three of them have spouses and young children – with the goal of eventually being able to sponsor their families to Canada to join them.

McDonald’s manager Jamie Rose tried to fill the positions locally, advertising for several months. He could only fill one of the five positions that were available.

It’s the first time he has hired staff from outside the country. The process was facilitated through Star Express Placement Inc. and Diamond Global Recruitment Company.

Rose says that with ferry service resuming, he is looking at possibly extending their hours, especially for early morning business.

“We wanted to offer the best service we could in that time,” he said.

Rose believes outmigration from the area is one of the factors contributing towards the difficulty of hiring local people.

Bringing in workers from another country is rife with hoops however.

“It is a tremendously time consuming and expensive process,” said Rose.

Government regulations had to be strictly adhered to and there were multiple forms and ongoing communications with Canadian Immigration.

As an employer of immigrants, he was obligated to provide a place for the newcomers to live and offer social support.

The four live in a home within walking distance of work and have become a second family to Cynthia Sayat, her daughters, and mother who are also from the Philippines and have resided in Yarmouth for many years.

One of the first questions the immigrants, all university graduates, asked of Rose was the availability of Internet in their residence – especially so they can keep in touch with their families.

“If I’m lonely I just talk to them on the Skype,” said Kristin Vilela, who has an 11-year-old and eight-year-old that she will not see in person for two years.

“We just have to adapt. It’s our decision to be here and so we have to be strong and face whatever challenges we face,” she added.

Each manager, once fully trained, will be responsible for supervising 15-20 staff depending on the time of day.

The four came to Canada for better opportunities for themselves and their families. Their monthly wage in the Philippines ranged from $650 to $790/month.

They say they appreciate the low crime rate, less pollution, beautiful natural surroundings and friendly people here.

“We are very grateful to Jamie and the Sayat family,” said Joven Dimacali.

Rose says because of Yarmouth’s size it is a harder destination to promote to immigrants, but word spreads through positive experiences for those who have immigrated.

“These four have friends in Toronto and British Columbia and those people are telling them, ‘You guys have it great. You can walk to work, you’re not stuck in traffic and there’s a smaller population’.”

He says his next step is to help guide the four through the immigration process.

“My goal ultimately would be to help repopulate Yarmouth,” said Rose.

“More businesses have to get on board and look positively at immigration.”


Organizations: Star Express Placement, Diamond Global Recruitment Company, Canadian Immigration

Geographic location: Yarmouth, Philippines, Canada Nova Scotia Toronto British Columbia

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Recent comments

  • Jeff
    April 04, 2016 - 05:55

    Congratulations Jamie! We need to welcome these folks and hope they decide this is where they want to raise their families. We have a lot to offer, and thankfully they recognize that. All the best to them all!

  • Lena
    April 08, 2014 - 09:29

    If they were offering decent wages and benefits, McDonalds would have had absolutely no trouble filling those vacancies with local residents. I'm sure these are very fine young people, but the TFW program is troublesome and hurts the unemployed.

  • Mom31
    April 07, 2014 - 07:25

    I don't understand why .people In Yarmouth are looking for jobs and there giving the jobs to people from other country's its mind blowing why not help your own people instead of hiring people from other country's I just don't get it . Although I do welcome them to Yarmouth but people come on and offer the jobs to the people who live there and want to work

    • Lavena
      April 08, 2014 - 10:05

      I'm wondering if you read the article. The employer did post the jobs and got no response. People do what they have to do, it has become a way of life, whether its moving out west because $400 a week just doesn't cut it anymore or hiring abroad. From what I see and read it is also very stressful for employers as well. I mean many of them may only have minimum wage jobs to offer but I believe our government is the one to blame. It's about decisions we make as well and what we are willing to do to be happy. Some of us take on a couple or more jobs just so we can live genuinely happy lives in a province where our bloodline lies.

  • Maggie
    April 06, 2014 - 11:55

    Welcome to Yarmouth!

  • James Ready
    James Ready
    April 06, 2014 - 06:10

    Thumbs up to Jamie Rose for recognizing that the world is now small and we are all competing for solid, full time long term jobs against a global workforce. Yarmouth is no longer isolated like most would think even without a functional airport. With the internet and direct flights from Asia to Eastern North America, the youth and their parents of rural Nova Scotia have to recognize that we are no longer gaurenteed to be hired for a job here in SW nova just by submitting a resume. We are now competing against, and competing for, jobs on a global scale so congrats to our new MacDonald's staff for being selected for their positions all though coming from the other side of the world. Asian people are very entrepreneur like and are extremely motivated people who always arrive at work with a smile and go home with one. They don't complain about paying taxes, they recognize the great gift we have living in the one of the last unclaimed underpopulated temperate areas of the world and deserve every chance to gain employment in what we consider our home, regardless of their color or race. Sharpen your pens and skills boys, girls and parents, this is only a sign of things to come. Welcome to our new Filipino families!

  • Shannon
    April 05, 2014 - 20:54

    I find it funny that they where unable to hire locally,my son applied there many times and never got a reply ever and previously a friend who worked there said they get plenty of applicants. my son is 20 and has graduated so his education or age would have not been a factor,perhaps they need to change the way you apply or have a job fair?my son is now employed full time by Burger King until he begins to further his education in the fall. Although i am happy that these new comers are here to better themselves and their families,i disagree with the fact they could not find local employees.

  • Bev
    April 05, 2014 - 17:49

    This is wonderful, we need to have people replace our lessening population. I hope we all make them feel vey welcome and invite them into our homes and social events, so they will let everyone know what a great place this can be to immigrate to!!! Welocome and best of luck!!

  • Denise Comeau
    April 04, 2014 - 21:55

    they didn't read the latest article on the top ten places immigrants don't want to relocate to. did they?