#ImmigrationMatters in Eastman, Quebec

When 3 Quebec villages sponsored the first refugee family to the area, they wanted to help Maykil, Zena and Malak Toma find a new home. What they didn’t expect was the renewed community spirit that would arrive with their new neighbours.

Strengthening a community through refugee sponsorship

Strengthening a community through refugee sponsorship

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Transcript: “Immigration Matters in Eastman, Quebec”

Video length: 2 minutes, 33 seconds

Piano and string music plays throughout the video.

The video opens with a view of Eastman’s Lac d’Argent, nestled at the foot of Mont Orford. Houses run along the waterfront on the other side of the lake.

Text displays: “Immigration Matters in Eastman, Quebec”

In a residential garden, Jean Cloutier smiles at people who are off-camera.

Text displays: “Jean Cloutier, Head of Sponsorship Committee”

The official village sign is displayed. It reads: “Eastman — Un village de charme grandeur nature — Bienvenue” (Eastman—A charming, life-sized village—Welcome)

The external facade of a Christian church emerges.

Jean: The Sponsorship Committee was set up following a request from the Archdiocese. I remember that, at the beginning, people were quite skeptical. Some even said, “Now we’re going to have to support them financially, we’re much too small, we don’t have the infrastructure.”

An aerial view of Eastman appears. We see the village in the distance, at the edge of the lake.

Cars drive on a pedestrian-free road with a lot of greenery.

Close-up shot of a flowering tree branch. A fountain is running in the courtyard behind Spa Eastman.

Jean: That said, at the same time, I met the owner of Spa Eastman. He told me, finding employees is difficult and it would be a great project to welcome a refugee who would work at Spa Eastman.

Gérard Marinovich smiles at the camera, and then gestures toward the courtyard.

The dining room of Spa Eastman appears, there are some customers.

The scene fades to black.

A family walks along a road.

In a residential garden, Gérard talks to someone off camera.

Text displays: “Gérard Marinovich, Vice-president of Spa Eastman and member of the Sponsorship Committee”

Gérard: We’re in a rural community, so recruiting employees is relatively difficult because of the distances. We’re always recruiting, and we’re trying to stabilize our teams. I was sure that by offering the position for a refugee there would most certainly be room.

A country road unfolds in front of us. The wooded and flowery façade of Spa Eastman appears.

An employee smiles as she puts glasses on a dining table.

Gérard hugs Maykil and they laugh together.

Gérard: I met Maykil with his wife and little girl. He gave the impression of being someone who wants to work, a go-getter who wants to move up quickly.

Maykil, his wife Zena, and their little girl Malak are sitting at a picnic table. Malak takes out a box of ice cream from the grocery store.

Malak smiles at her father as she finishes her ice cream. Maykil laughs.

Maykil climbs on his bike and pedals away.

Gérard: We took him to visit the kitchen and he thought he was working the next day. His dream here is to become self-reliant and to open his own restaurant. Being able to welcome a family like that, to be able to help them settle and to give them the means to flourish, we learn things, but, at the same time, it’s very rewarding.

A restaurant kitchen appears.

The head chef explains an order to Maykil. Maykil makes mini lobster burgers.

Maykil prepares a sauce, then puts salmon on a plate.

The family walks to the grocery store. A pharmacist gives Malak a sticker.

At the daycare, the family and children from the village turn up a patch of earth to plant seeds. Malak gets off her bike and hands her mother a flower. Her mother takes the flower and smiles at her daughter.

The scene fades to black.

In a residential garden, several people are gathered around a table. A woman and children are running in the yard.

Suzanne talks to people off-camera.

Text displays: “Suzanne Badeaux, member of the Sponsorship Committee”

Suzanne: Suddenly, everyone started talking to each other in the village. It was very unifying. Since the Toma family has been here, I have never met so many of my neighbours.

Suzanne laughs with her neighbours. Suzanne hugs Maykil with joy.

Zena talks to a neighbour and laughs.

In the yard, Malak runs hand in hand with a friend her age. The two laugh together.

Maykil blows out birthday candles surrounded by guests. He hugs his neighbours.

Suzanne: This family has made the village understand just how much they are just like us, with the same ambitions, the same life issues. They erased all the worries that someone might have had. We can feel their immense desire to be part of our society, and we want them to be part of our community.

In a thrift store, a woman greets Zena.

Zena and Maykil show Malak something. In the grocery store, a neighbour shows Zena and Maykil what is written on the jam jar.

Zena is at the wheel of a car, she turns the wheel while driving. The family and the neighbour walk to the grocery store. As they walk, they lift little Malak who laughs.

The scene fades to black.

Text displays: “Immigrants enrich our communities.”

The scene fades to black.

Text displays: “Share your story #ImmigrationMatters; Facebook: @CitCanada; Twitter: @CitImmCanada; Instagram: @CitImmCanada.”

The scene fades to black.

Text displays: “Canada.ca/immigration-matters”

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, 2019” followed by the Canada wordmark.

Immigration profile: Eastman, Quebec

Quick facts:

  • Immigrants in Eastman represent about 6% of the population.
  • France is the biggest source country of immigrants in Eastman, followed by South Korea.
  • More than three-quarters (88%) of all immigrants to Eastman between 1980 and 2016 came as economic immigrants.

Did you know?

  • Maykil, Zena and Malak Toma came to Canada in 2018 from Iraq and are the first refugee family to ever arrive in Eastman.

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