A former refugee has launched a site aimed at connecting newcomers with meaningful employment.

Omar Rahimi started the site Hire A Refugee last week.

It connects refugees with people seeking labourers. Most of the work centers around home maintenance.

"Painting is number one. That's what we do most of the time, but we actually do a lot of moving, lots of snow shovelling, lots of demolition,” Rahimi said.

Rahimi said he was inspired to launch the project based on his own experience moving to Canada 16 years ago from western Iraq.

“I’ve been working since I got here. It’s hard to find a job, but if you know English, it’s a little easier.”

He said refugees can find employment through the site, and work on their language skills on the job.

“The best way to help them is to find them jobs, and that’s what they want. They want to work,” he said.


The website is one of many ways refugees are finding employment in Winnipeg.

About 1,000 refugees came through Manitoba Start’s doors last year. It acts as the gateway for all immigrants in Manitoba looking to enter the workforce.

The organization serves as a central registry to connect immigrants with settlement agencies. Once they have been settled and have developed some English skills, the organization then helps immigrants find employment.

They teach courses in resume preparation and interview skills.

“We also do direct placement here as well, so that's really useful, and especially when language is still a concern,” said Judith Hayes, executive director of Manitoba Start.

“We can be the intermediary. We don't just send people out to interview. We actually line up positions."

Manitoba Start also helps refugees, who have specialized skills or training, find work in their field.

"We connect them to the regulator here and help them to understand the process of acquiring their credentials here,” Hayes said.


University of Manitoba Sociology Professor Lori Wilkinson said while more and more refugees are finding work in Winnipeg, Canadian and international research shows they are not taking away Canadian jobs.

"They tend to fill jobs that Canadians in the short term are less interested in taking,” Wilkinson said.

In addition, she said refugees are helping to further diversify the economy.

“Even in the long term, they fill jobs that Canadians may not be trained for,” she said.

“Many refugees of course will have international experience, simply by being a refugee themselves, by being multi-lingual. Also, having connections in other countries, and that tends to put them in a different field of employment than for Canadians.”