Heather Bell is no stranger to the difficulties of being a foreigner in a new country. Having completed her master’s degree at the University of Manchester in the U.K. and spent time working abroad in Ecuador, Mexico and Malawi, she knows the challenges of relocating to a new country and culture. Yet Bell, now an immigration consultant and vice president of Bell Global Alliance Immigration Services, Inc., also recognizes the plethora of opportunities offered by immigrants who may have unique skills and experience they can bring to Canada. It is precisely this type of potential that will be explored at ExpoPlaza Latina, the first ever Latin American cross-sector business expo to be held in Vancouver, which will take place on Feb. 7.
Bell will be one of many speakers at this day-long conference, which is designed to promote business connections between North America and Latin America.
“[I’ll] offer information and educate about the opportunities to bring foreign workers to Canada that may specialize or have the skills that we need,” says Bell of her role at the expo.
Bell hopes to help people engage with the larger picture of how Canada can benefit from having foreign workers. According to Bell, filling labour gaps, whether those are in knowledge or experience with sustainable technologies or in other industries is an immense benefit for Canada. However, when it comes to balancing opportunities for Canadian and foreign workers, Bell notes that there is some controversy over how many foreign workers should be brought in, with the ultimate responsibility to answer this question resting with both the government and individual companies.
Her own experience with immigration makes Bell sensitive to the challenges faced by workers who can bring new skills and experience to Canada.
“The experience [of] not understanding the language, not knowing how to do the paperwork, starting a whole new life, setting down, and that first time I did it I came back and had a new appreciation of those that were coming to Canada who are basically going through the same thing I did,” says Bell.
The expo will provide a platform for local and international companies to discover business opportunities, with participants coming from Latin American countries, Western Canada, and the north-western U.S. The main focus will be on the mining, construction and green technology industries, with a wide array of speakers addressing each of these subjects and what they have in common. Alan Minz, regional director for the Pacific Region at the Vancouver Regional Office of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Dallas Kachan, executive director at Clean Mining Alliance, and Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson will be among those speaking.
With a large and lively Latin American community in Vancouver, growing business opportunities in Latin American countries, and discussions that will deal with topics like filling the labour gap in mining and construction industries in Canada and sustainable economic development in the mining industry, ExpoPlaza Latina promises to be an event of interest.
ExpoPlaza Latina will take place Feb. 7 at Harbour Centre, Simon Fraser University. More information can be found at www.expoplazalatina.ca
ExpoPlaza will have presentations on the three industries that are booming
in Latin America: construction, mining and green technologies. Photos courtesy of ExpoPlaza Latina
ExpoPlaza Latina Agenda
Opportunities from Sustainable Cities
Sustainable innovative alternatives that successful firms in North America can benefit by supplying green technologies in Latin America: learn what opportunities are available.
How to Fill the Labour Gap for Mining and Construction Industries
Solutions and alternatives to the need for labour in mining and construction.
Taking Advantage of the NAFTA Agreement
Supporting trade and commerce within Canada, USA & Mexico: lessons that can be drawn from NAFTA efforts in the region, and with other free trade agreements.
Part 1: Green is Black
Socially Responsible Mining in Latin America
Part 2: Future in Mining
Clean Tech and New Options for Latin America
Socially responsible mining in Latin America: what it means, and alternatives to operate with clean technologies.