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Meet some of the estimated 14,400 newcomers that came to Saskatoon last year

Hellen Ma, pictured here in California, moved to Saskatoon from China in March and has been waiting for her husband to join her since then. (Submitted by Hellen Ma - image credit)
Hellen Ma, pictured here in California, moved to Saskatoon from China in March and has been waiting for her husband to join her since then. (Submitted by Hellen Ma - image credit)

The City of Saskatoon estimates its population recently grew by more than five per cent in one year.

Of the 14,400 estimated newcomers to the city, 85 per cent of them were immigrants.

People have immigrated to Saskatoon from all over the globe — from Nigeria to Colombia to China to Tunisia to Bangladesh.

CBC sought out some of Saskatoon's newest immigrants to better get to know them and the challenges they face.

Cold weather a big change from Nigeria

Thomas Babatunde Adenaike and his family moved to Saskatoon from Nigeria in April.
Thomas Babatunde Adenaike and his family moved to Saskatoon from Nigeria in April.

Thomas Babatunde Adenaike and his family moved to Saskatoon from Nigeria in April. (Submitted by Thomas Babatunde Adenaike)

Thomas Babatunde Adenaike and his family relocated to Saskatoon from Nigeria in April. He said the only thing that he doesn't like about the city is the weather.

"People talk about it, but you never truly understand it until you experience it. Then you find out some of the jackets you have already bought wouldn't even do anything," he said.

Adenaike said that in his experience, finding a job in your chosen field is one of the biggest challenges for newcomers.

"Really talented people, probably the best from different countries, are coming here," he said.

"Having them not be able to get into the workforce can be very discouraging."

LISTEN | Saskatoon has grown a lot in the past few years, in large part because of immigrants and refugees moving here:

Chinese woman anxiously await's husband's arrival

Hellen Ma came to Saskatoon from China in March. She said she didn't know what to expect about living in Saskatchewan, but ended up loving the city.

"It's incredibly convenient and accessible. It's quite small, but you can get almost anything you need. You can drive anywhere in the city within 20 minutes, which I like a lot, because I used to live in a huge city in China, which was crowded and busy."

Ma said her biggest challenge is living apart from her husband, who is still waiting for permanent resident status.

She said she has been amazed by the kindness and helpfulness of Saskatoon people.

"Before I came to Canada, I didn't know anyone here," she said. "Now, I have lovely families."

LISTEN | Helen Ma is one of the 14,000 newcomers that have made Saskatoon home in the last year:

Columbian newcomer enjoys public facilities

Martha Rosas and her family moved to Saskatoon in August.
Martha Rosas and her family moved to Saskatoon in August.

Martha Rosas and her family moved to Saskatoon from Colombia in August. (Submitted by Martha Rosas)

Martha Rosas and her family moved from Colombia in August.

She said she thought Saskatoon would be too small for her family, but has learned to like the size and opportunities the city provides.

"We won't move to another city for many years."

Rosas appreciates that the city's libraries and leisure centres offer indoor activities in winter that are free for newcomers who have a letter from settlement agencies.

She thinks both she and her husband have been lucky to have found jobs in their chosen fields soon after landing in Saskatoon.

LISTEN| Why Rosas chose Saskatoon as home:

Bangladeshi man wants to pass on kindness

Mohi Uddin Ahmed and his family moved in Saskatoon from Bangladesh in May.
Mohi Uddin Ahmed and his family moved in Saskatoon from Bangladesh in May.

Mohi Uddin Ahmed and his family moved in Saskatoon from Bangladesh in May. (submitted by Mohi Uddin Ahmed)

Mohi Uddin Ahmed and his family moved to Saskatoon from Bangladesh in May. He has just found a job in his field after seven months of searching. He said this is the major issue for newcomers to Saskatoon.

"You are coming from a background with more than 10 years of experience and you cannot find a job in your field. I believe the government of Saskatchewan should work on that because they know who you are, and what your background and education are."

Ahmed has also found the Saskatoon community very welcoming.

"I have met some local people as well as people from my country that help newcomers," he said.

"Now that I have passed my seven months here, I try to help the newcomers as well, so it's a circle."

LISTEN| Mohi Uddin Ahmed explains how hard it was to find a job in his field in Saskatoon:

Tunisian woman appreciates freedom of religion

Soumaya Tayari and her family relocated to Saskatoon from Tunisia in June. She wasn't accustomed to living in cold weather, as Tunisia is a Mediterranean country, but found the community to be welcoming and supportive.

She received help from friends during the winter.

"Basically I didn't buy anything except my coat. I got gloves and shoes from friends. They are very nice," she said.

She also appreciates that nobody judges her religion or her children. In fact, schools even call her to ask if it's OK to give her children specific foods.

Tayari said that during their immigration process, they had submitted lots of documents related to their education and experience. They had come to Saskatoon with some expectations about the type of work they might find.

"Unfortunately we have to start from the survival jobs and this is a little bit disappointing."

LISTEN| How Tayari is embracing Saskatoon — snow and all: