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Meet the Pugal family

February 26, 2019

Rowell, his wife Gem, and their children Jet and Jewel. They love the Calgary Zoo and Tuesday movie nights. They’re also big fans of good food—including local staple Big T’s BBQ.

In October 2011, Rowell moved from the Philippines to Canada in search of a better life for his family. He found work in Rimbey, Alberta, but was not able to apply for his permanent resident card, as he was classified as a low-skill worker. A couple years later, Rowell got a new job: Food Service Supervisor. After a year working in the new, skilled position, Rowell was eligible to apply for permanent residency.

In 2015, when Rowell submitted his application, he included his wife and both of their children. Jewel was only 10 years old at the time, but Jet was 19—making him too old to be considered Rowell’s dependent.

So in 2016, when Gem and Jewel joined Rowell in Canada, Jet was left behind in the Philippines.

The Pugal family searched for a way to bring Jet to Canada, but they were up against some sizeable obstacles.

“Besides the numerous misinformations and misdirections, we were faced with the problem of financial difficulty because some of the immigration advisers or consultants we [went] to exorbitant fees,” Rowell said. “And they [could] not even gave us an assurance that my son will be here.”

Armed with questions, Rowell and Gem attended an information session at the Centre for Newcomers. Nicolle, Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and Immigration Legal Advocate for the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary, was one of the speakers. After hearing part of their story during the Q&A portion of the evening, Nicolle approached the Pugals to discuss further.

“We felt very relieved and grateful when we had spoken to Ms. Nicolle because of her sincerity and her willingness to help,” Rowell said. “She gave us straight-forward answers. And not to mention, on top of that, EFry services are [free].”

As it turned out, Nicolle had good news for the Pugal family. She told them about a Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) proposal to change the age of eligible dependents from 18 to 22 years of age—which could make 19-year-old Jet eligible again.

Immigrant Legal Advocate Program

The Pugal family watched closely as the CIC—which had since been rebranded as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)—moved closer to raising the age limit. Rowell contacted Nicolle in the summer of 2017 when it became clear that the IRCC was going to
confirm the amendment.

“We communicated constantly, and she suggested that we should prepare all the necessary paperworks and all requirements so that when IRCC finally confirm[ed] the amendment, […] we immediately submit my son’s permanent resident application,” Rowell said.

The new maximum age of qualified dependents came into effect on October 24 th , 2017. Jet’s 22nd birthday—which would have made him ineligible again—was only 58 days later.

“The biggest challenge we had [was] timing,” Rowell said. “Ms. Nicolle ‘s suggestion to prepare all requirements and paperworks even before the new revision takes into effect, was very smart, effective, and timely, to say the least.”

Jet arrived in Calgary this December, just in time for his 23rd birthday.

“All of us are very happy, thankful, and [we feel] blessed that after eight loooong years [sic], we were finally able to celebrate my son’s birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s together as a complete family.”

The Pugal family, together at last, is now planning to apply for Canadian citizenship.

“We will be forever grateful to this organization,” Rowell said. “To Ms. Nicolle, and to all the staff, employees, volunteers, contributors, that [comprise] the EFry Society of Calgary.”

Follow this link to learn more about the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Program.


Donate Your Car and Help The Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary

January 22, 2019

Donate a Car Canada now accepts Vehicle Donations for The Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary.  Free towing is provided in most areas across Canada, or you can drop off your vehicle to maximize your donation. When you donate your car, truck, RV, boat, or motorcycle to The Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary through Donate A Car Canada, it will either be recycled or sold at auction (depending on its condition, age and location). Donate a Car Canada will look after all the details to make it easy for The Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary to benefit. After your vehicle donation is complete, our charity will send you a tax receipt and will put your gift to good use. Please click here to donate a vehicle.


Breaking Barriers to Housing – A Basic Human Right

June 30, 2018

Homelessness, crime and addiction are closely related. In fact, homlessness increases the risk of incarceration due to addictions or survival related crimes by four to six times compared to the general population.

Women can be especially vulnerable to homelessness and criminalization. Poverty, violence, abuse and lack of access to appropriate, sustainable housing are particularly debilitating issues.

Incarceration is one of the major pathways to homelessness for women. Access to secure housing options after incarceration is an essential factor in breaking this barrier and building a bridge to a better future.

Housing is a basic human right, regardless of personal circumstances. EFry works collaboratively to ensure women have stable housing that prevents them from the revolving door of institutionalization and homelessness.

Our Solution: Programs that Build Bridges

Meaningful programs, resources and supports help those that we serve overcome the barriers that become obstacles in creating more hopeful futures. We provide the bridges to a better life that supports pathways to healing through programs such as:

  • Indigenous Cultural Supports
  • Affordable Housing Supports
  • Emotional Wellness and Employment Readiness

Housing and employment are ongoing needs and are essential for women rebuilding their lives. Damage deposits and short-term housing rental subsidies are a critical priority. Supporting our programs that prepare women for employment will change lives. Your support of our housing and employment programs is imperative to the healing journey of those we serve.

Together, we can break barriers and build bridges for Calgary’s marginalized people. To learn more about giving opportunities with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary, please email reception@elizabethfrycalgary.ca or call 403-294-0737.


Breaking Barriers to Justice – Equitable Access for All

June 29, 2018

With Alberta’s current economic climate, an increased number of people are accessing the legal system to address legal charges and offenses. The clients who are most affected by the complexity of our judicial system are those living in poverty. As a result, they do not have equitable access to the necessary legal resources and representation to support them through their legal matters.

Those involved in the legal system often struggle with multiple barriers that limit their ability to navigate the legal system and processes effectively. Individuals lacking the necessary understanding of their legal matters often attempt to address their charges or offences without legal representation or resources. Pleading guilty without a proper understanding of the consequences or alternatives to addressing charges usually has long term negative impact.

A number of EFry clients have language or cultural barriers that make it difficult to comprehend the legal processes. This impedes their ability to address their charges and achieve the best possible outcomes. EFry fills a gap in a complex system by assisting with understanding legal forms, filing processes and referrals to legal resources.

The economic downturn has increased the number of domestic violence matters seen in both Calgary and Regional courts. This has resulted in a greater number of emergency parenting and protection orders being requested in our Legal Advocacy programs. An increase of immigrant women seeking assistance with divorce applications has been noted since 2016. Many Indigenous women face challenges with navigating the complexity of the legal system and have benefited from individualized assistance to appropriately address their legal matters.

Our Solution: Court and Legal Advocacy Programs

Equitable access to justice is a crisis that continues to be a problem for those living under the poverty line. Canada’s pledge of equal justice under the law is one that we as a community must mutually support and promote. EFry needs the support of legal professionals to contribute to these efforts. With demanding and busy practices, we must work together as a legal community to solve this critical issue.

Our Legal Advocacy and Court Programs increase access to justice for those who need it most. EFry provide support to those that struggle with multiple barriers that have decreased chances of positive results when attempting to address their legal matters independently, through our court programs and legal advocacy programs.Partnerships with law firms will help us continue to offer programs to address the need for equitable access to justice for all.

Together, we can break barriers and build bridges for Calgary’s marginalized people. To learn more about giving opportunities with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary, please email reception@elizabethfrycalgary.ca or call 403-294-0737.


Breaking Barriers for Indigenous Peoples – Building Meaningful Reconciliation

June 28, 2018

Indigenous peoples experience a number of barriers that have led to a higher representation of incarceration and interactions with the legal system than other Canadians. The experiences of colonization and assimilation policies have led to complex issues resulting in intergenerational trauma. In addition, those Indigenous peoples who have negative interactions with the law, are more likely to experience poverty, homelessness and have challenges with addiction.

Indigenous Canadians are affected by several negative health and social outcomes including their children being placed into foster care, accidents and fatalities related to alcohol abuse and violence, and higher rates of attempted and completed suicides.

Over the past several decades, many Indigenous Calgarians have become disconnected from culture due to lack of proximity to their communities and families. There are proven positive outcomes from connecting with Indigenous cultural traditions and spirituality, including an increased sense of identity and self-awareness.

Our Solution: Programs that Build Bridges

Meaningful programs, resources and supports help our Indigenous clients overcome the barriers that are obstacles in creating more hopeful futures. We provide the bridges to a better life and support pathways to healing for marginalized Indigenous Calgarians through programs such as:

  • Indigenous Cultural Supports
  • Prison Community Outreach Program
  • Emotional Wellness and Employment Readiness

There are increased requests from our clients for Indigenous programming and more interest in Indigenous cultural supports. By providing various opportunities with Indigenous languages, traditional teachings and cultural ceremonies and practices, we can offer further education and connections that align with recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Through our partnership with Pathways Community Services Association, we are able to enhance cultural connections for urban Indigenous peoples.

Many Indigenous expenses are not covered through traditional funding grants and include Elder honorariums for ceremonies and resources, materials for programs and expenses related to healing ceremonies. Indigenous programming is an imperative part of the healing journey. Working together, we can sustain, enhance and expand our Indigenous cultural supports and bring about meaningful reconciliation for the Indigenous peoples we serve.

Together, we can break barriers and build bridges for Calgary’s marginalized people. To learn more about giving opportunities with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary, please email
reception@elizabethfrycalgary.ca or call 403-294-0737.