#ImmigrationMatters in Altona, Manitoba: Growing local businesses through immigration

#ImmigrationMatters in Altona, Manitoba

See how immigration helped Friesens address labour shortages and enrich the Altona community.

Growing local businesses through immigration

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Immigration Matters for Canadian Companies – Friesens Corporation

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*This video was shot prior to COVID-19.

Transcript: “Immigration Matters for Canadian Companies— Friesens Corporation— Altona, Manitoba”

Video length: 3 minutes, 18 seconds

Piano music plays throughout the video.

The video opens with a view of Altona’s wintery fields. Wind turbines are turning.

Text displays: “Immigration Matters For Canadian Companies— Friesens Corporation— Altona, Manitoba”

Chad Friesens walks down a hall filled with book covers, laminated and hung on display across the hall walls.

Text displays: “Chad Friesens, CEO at Friesens Corporation”

chad: At Friesens, we help other people share their stories with the world. We do that through the power of print.

A series of shots show paper rolling into a printing machine, freshly printed magazines on a conveyor belt.

A coloured sketch portrait of D.W. Friesens hangs on a wall.

chad: Friesens was founded in 1907 by D.W. Friesens. One of our principles as a company was to create employment opportunities within the community.

A series of archived photos show printing techniques of the early 20th century. “Our rich and storied past” is written on a wall representing Friesens’ historic timeline.

chad: As the company continued to grow, our needs shifted, we couldn’t rely on just the local employment market to sustain our growth and that’s when we started to really take measures to look outside the province and look outside the country.

A newcomer employee is controlling a lift. Another newcomer employee is manipulating large-print paper. A large view of the company floor shows many stacks of paper and lots of printing machines. Chad walks through the warehouse. He waves to an employee.

A Friesens truck rides down the street. It docks into the warehouse.

Tina Barkman is smiling and listening to someone speak.

Text displays: “Tina Barkman, VP of Human Resources at Friesens Corporation”

Tina walks down the office hall, and through the warehouse. She is having coffee with a colleague.

tina: The unemployment rate in southern Manitoba was almost zero percent. We had advertised throughout the country, and sometimes individuals would relocate, but it seemed as though we were losing them as quickly as we were training them.

Tina speaks on the phone. She types on her computer and looks at her screen. She talks to a colleague in their office.

tina: We became aware of an economic immigration program, and a Philippine trip. We hired 71 individuals, and we are happy to say that all 71 are still with Friesens.

A classroom is filled with newcomer employees, listening to Chad Friesens speak in front of the classroom. Tina waves at the class.

Tina laughs with a newcomer employee. A newcomer employee is manipulating a giant paper wheel. Newcomer employees are snacking in the breakroom and laughing.

tina: We’ve got individuals from all over the world, and we work with the community to try and make sure they have what they need, not only to live, but to thrive. And in my opinion they are fitting in very well, and they are not only contributing to Friesens, but also to the community.

Newcomers walk into the building, and into the classroom where Chad Friesens is speaking. Some newcomers raise their hands. Others nod in agreement. One makes a joke and the others laugh.

In a now empty classroom, Tina is speaking one-on-one with a newcomer.

Suanny Krahn is doing her groceries. She bumps into Tina and laughs. Suanny pays for her groceries at the cash register and leaves, smiling.

Suanny, in her work uniform, talks to her colleague and smiles.

Text displays: “Suanny Krahn, Shipping Manager at Friesens Corporation”

On the phone, Suanny asks a question to her neighboring colleague. Her colleague shows her something on the walkie-talkie. Suanny and her colleague smile as they walk out of their office.

suanny: Friesens is like an open-doors management, you can talk to anybody without problem. People will step a little bit out of what they're doing just to give you a hand.

The city of Altona sign reads: “Altogether Altona— Welcome”

On a suburban street, on the front lawn of a house, a “For Sale” sign is indicated as “Sold”.

A picturesque house is surrounded by large trees. Inside the house, there are portraits of Suanny and her husband, and their newborn child. Suanny grabs her daughter from her playpen and holds her in her arms.

suanny: I love it living here. Because it's small, everybody knows each other and my plan was always to have a family. I met my husband in Altona and we have a daughter who’s almost a year old.

A photo shows Suanny and her two sisters.

Women are dancing in a dance studio. The women finish their choreography and laugh.

We are three sisters here in Altona. We have between 20 and 25 ladies that come to Zumba class every Wednesday. We go there and just dance, dance, dance. (She laughs)

A series of shots show Chad speaking with several newcomer employees one-on-one.

Printing machines are printing at lightning speed. There are monumental piles of recycled paper.

chad: The impact of our recruitment program for Friesens has been transformational. We produced 22 million books in 2019.

A company group photo reads: “We embrace Employee-Ownership.”

A series of shots shows newcomer employees working and enjoying their work. One of the employees receives positive encouragement from Chad. Veteran employees, work machinery and smile at the camera.

In the breakroom, a newcomer employee offers Tina a traditional filipino pastry. Tina takes a bite and enjoys a discussion with the employees.

chad: So of our nearly 600 employees, about 100 of those employees have now come to us from other countries around the world. We’ve found that a lot of the values that our newcomers have brought to Friesens very much mirror the values of our existent employees, and of the company, and we have found that it has only strengthened our culture.

Series of shots of newcomer employees working, and enjoying their work. Suanny smiles at the camera.

chad: We have people that are at the entry level ranks that will become leaders in our business and become technical experts in our business and really move our company to the next level.

Outside Friesens, a Canadian flag blows in the wind.

The scene fades to black.

Text displays: “Canada attracts global talent for businesses”

The scene fades to black.

Text displays: “Learn more at canada.ca/hire-immigrants, canada.ca/immigration-matters

The scene fades to black.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada corporate signature is shown, along with the copyright message: “Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 2020” followed by the Canada wordmark.

Immigration profile: Altona, Manitoba

Quick facts:

  • Immigrants in Altona represent close to 15% of the population.
  • Mexico is the largest source country for immigrants to Altona, followed by Syria, then Germany and the Philippines equally.
  • Nearly half (48%) of immigrants who came to Altona between 1980 and 2016 were economic immigrants, while nearly a third (31%) were sponsored by family and about 21% were refugees.

Did you know?

  • At 4%, Altona has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Manitoba.

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