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5 tips for newcomers from someone who's been there: Opinion

First, I begin by acknowledging that P.E.I. is on unceded Mi'kmaq territory. They've settled on and solely owned these lands for at least 10,000 years.

Hundreds of years on in the 16th century, newcomers arrived from Europe and settled in P.E.I.

Fast forward a few more centuries and people from all over the world are also now choosing to make P.E.I. their home. Now that you're here, welcome to your new Island home!

I've been on the Island for almost a decade and have experienced living, working, playing and studying here.

I've undeniably understood that creating the right conditions for newcomers through information and resources has a huge impact on their sense of belonging and how quickly they settle.

So for all the newcomers who'd like a smooth transition, here are five handy tips that will make your switch to Island life a whole lot easier.

1. Access services 

The PEI Association for Newcomers is one example of an all-encompassing service for newcomers.

They will advise you on everything from finding housing and employment to getting help with finances, documentation, translation services, internet access and much more.

Find them online here. If you have your own device, you can also access Wi-Fi in several spots downtown as well as coffee shops, hospitals, some malls, libraries, and the Charlottetown Airport.

2. Network

 
'Always follow up once with the people you meet with a note saying that you were glad to connect with them,' says Omair Imtiaz. (Shutterstock)

In P.E.I., news still spreads most efficiently via word-of-mouth, so if you've done all you can to make that first impression a positive one, rest assured it will go a long way.

Also, always follow up once with the people you meet with a note saying that you were glad to connect with them.

This will show them that you are courteous and professional and may lead to new contacts and opportunities.  

3. Initiate Integration

Take in the daily news. Knowing what is going on locally will help orient you to issues that matter the most. Pay special attention to the weather, political, and municipal news.

Also, browse through your local classifieds section including platforms like KijijiUsedPEI and the like.

You'll feel a sense of pride in your accomplishments and your new home and you'll be well on your way to transitioning to oldcomer status.- Omair Imtiaz

You'll find a host of information from real estate values, public meetings, social events, and volunteer opportunities to a shot at shadowing a trained professional.

Finally, if you're looking to better your language skills, you'll find options like English as a second language training, buddy programs, heritage language classes and more.

4. Get involved

 
'Volunteering in general, as well as in soup kitchens and food banks are sure ways to get the much-needed Canadian experience for even entry-level jobs,' says Omair Imtiaz. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

The quicker you start working with Islanders, the faster you're going to feel a sense of inclusion and belonging.

Volunteering in general, as well as in soup kitchens and food banks, are sure ways to get the much-needed Canadian experience for even entry-level jobs.

Nothing beats giving back, so strive to participate in community building and mentorship programs. Achieving some of these will help build a personal connection with this place and its people.

You'll feel a sense of pride in your accomplishments and your new home and you'll be well on your way to transitioning to oldcomer status.

5. Explore

 
'Traverse not just paved roads but especially our numerous dirt roads, nature trails, and waterways as well,' says Omair Imtiaz. (Submitted by Crystal Cromwell)

There is no better way to get to know your new locale than to explore it. P.E.I. is unique in that it has so much to offer and from every angle.

Traverse not just paved roads but especially our numerous dirt roads, nature trails, and waterways as well. I use yard sales as an excuse to score some good deals as well as explore areas that I've never been to before.

Don't ever worry about getting lost either — unless you're alone and in the woods. Just ask anyone where to go and almost always you'll see how they will go out of their way to point you in the right direction.  

A final word

In addition to the above, it is the shared responsibility of all Islanders — newcomers and old — to work alongside each other to encourage a welcoming overtone and a non-discriminatory undertone.

We should commit to learning more about each other and to breaking down barriers and stereotypes by respecting and recognizing the things that make us different.

Above all, we must celebrate the global experiences that continue to make P.E.I. the exceptional place that it is.