Imagine giving nearly 300 people their first job interview in Canada! Meet Maris, he’s the human resources manager at Sutco, a forestry transportation company that hauls lumber, wood chips, and the like. He is passionate about helping the people he’s hired at Sutco through the West Kootenay Rural and Northern Immigrant Pilot (RNIP). Maris has hired approximately three dozen immigrants from all over the world. Now that’s something to write home about!
“Throughout my life, I’ve been lucky to help people come to Canada and help get them established. It’s one of the greatest pleasures I’ve had in my career. It continues here with Sutco as part of the RNIP. It’s a really cool thing,” says Maris, who got his first job in HR in 2011, and over time, gave nearly 300 people their first job interview in Canada.
For his 115 drivers at Sutco, there are over 18 nationalities! “We’re welcoming new cultures all the time,” he says. “Last year we hired our first Russian driver, our first Pakistani driver, our first driver from Trinidad, and our first Ukrainian driver. This year we have drivers coming from Madagascar, France, Africa, South Africa, Colombia and Brazil. We see this diversity as a huge strength.”
A third-generation immigrant himself (with roots in Latvia, Scotland, and Iceland), with a first-generation wife from South America, Maris feels he can empathize with the immigration story. He sees opening the door to people working so hard to get there as a fantastic opportunity.
“We love giving people their first opportunities in Canada, and we see that as such a pathway to success,” he said. “It’s what we need. We don’t have enough people to do the jobs. When immigrants come, they bring so much value. It was just a pleasure to be a part of [RNIP] and to help support people coming to Canada.”
The passion and enthusiasm of Sutco’s immigrant employees has blown Maris away. “We need them not just as a source of labour, but also as a source of culture and a source of energy. These are people that are growing, who want to start businesses, build houses and want to improve themselves. If somebody comes to Canada, they’ve sacrificed and worked so hard to get here, and they apply that work ethic when they get here.”
Sutco is one of the many employers working to help RNIP applicants move to and stay in the West Kootenay.