White Hat Drycleaners owner Ai Guo Zhang has been recognized by the federal government for his dedication to hiring newcomers to Canada and supporting them as they get settled in the community. Photo Submitted

White Hat Drycleaners owner Ai Guo Zhang has been recognized by the federal government for his dedication to hiring newcomers to Canada and supporting them as they get settled in the community. Photo Submitted

Vancouver Island dry cleaner earns rare national honour for supporting newcomers to Canada

Campbell River’s White Hat Drycleaners is by far the smallest business to receive IRCC award

A small Campbell River business is one of four organizations being recognized by the federal government for its efforts in helping newcomers to Canada find employment and get settled in their new communities.

Each year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), in collaboration with Hire Immigrants Ottawa, recognizes the innovative efforts of businesses across Canada to improve the integration of newcomers into the labour market through its Employer Awards for Newcomer Employment program.

And White Hat Drycleaners and Commercial Laundry owner Ai Guo Zhang received the recognition in Ottawa this week. His is by far the smallest business being recognized this year, with only 10 employees, but the IRCC says the recognition isn’t about numbers, but about their efforts in reducing barriers faced by newcomers entering the labour market and improving their chances of successfully settling into their new homes.

With 7 out of 10 employees of White Hat Drycleaners being newcomers, Mr. Zhang goes above and beyond his responsibilities to ensure the successful integration of his employees in the community,” reads the IRCC release on the recognition. “He not only offers newcomers a job, but he also offers their families support in pursuit of their settlement goals and cares about their social, cultural and education needs.

“Mr. Zhang has hired several vulnerable newcomers referred to him by a local settlement service provider organization. Offering these newcomers their first experience in the Canadian workforce and on-the-job training is invaluable in their settlement journey. He says that the skill, reliability and hard work shown by his newcomer workers all play key roles in the success of his business.”

North Island – Powell River MP Rachel Blaney says Zhang’s recognition is extra special for her.

“I’ve known Aiguo since my previous work at the Immigrant Welcome Centre so it’s extra special to get to celebrate and recognize his work as Member of Parliament here in Ottawa,” Blaney says. “Settlement supports and integration into the workforce are so important for successful immigration policies. Aiguo has shown that even a small business in a small community can have an important impact.”

The other businesses recognized this year are Glen Haven Manor, one of the largest long-term care home facilities in Nova Scotia, with 300 employees, KPMG, a nationwide tax firm with over 7,000 employees and MUFG Fund Services Ltd in Halifax, with 277 permanent employees.

RELATED: Campbell River Immigrant Welcome Centre has another banner year

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