Paying it Forward with Mostafa

Mostafa Skouta is originally from Morocco, Africa, but he felt that something was missing from his life. He wasn’t happy with the class systems in Morocco and how the rich and powerful people would use their influence to better themselves- with bribery and fraud being a common occurrence in daily life. He longed for a place that would fit his principles in which a society was fair, and if one worked hard, they would be rewarded financially and offered the respect that they were entitled to.

Mostafa had been working very successfully for twelve years as an applied engineer at a global company called Arcelor Mittal, when he decided to look for a place to move to that was more “inline” with his morals and philosophies. On account that he could speak French, Arabic, Russian and Spanish, he began his quest for a possible move to French speaking countries. He started off with a trip to visit France, but realized that it did not feel like “home” at all. A bit dismayed, he returned to Morocco and began to research Canada.

Soon thereafter, Mostafa decided to move to Montreal, Quebec. There, he also found that it was not the perfect fit for him as he felt it was quite overcast all the time. He began having communication with a friend he had in Winnipeg and he asked how it was to live in Manitoba. His friend told him to watch the movie called “Fargo” as it was a true reflection of Manitoba weather. Mostafa said that he liked the sunny days he saw in the movie, Fargo, and decided to move to Winnipeg, even though he did not speak English.

He landed in Winnipeg on December 5, 2010 in -27 degree weather and immediately enrolled in English classes at the Entry Program. There he was helped by Grace Eidse (Executive Director of Entry Program) in trying to find employment and inviting him to socializing events such as barbeques and making friendships with other Canadians and newcomers in Winnipeg.

After 3 months of intensive English classes and not even being able to find a job anywhere (he had applied to various places like Tim Horton’s, Safeway and Shoppers Drug Mart but did not have Canadian work experience) Grace suggested he expand his search to the rural towns and cities of Manitoba. The first place on his list ended up being Portage la Prairie, so he drove out in Grace’s car and dropped off resumes at places of business that were hiring. Immediately, he received news that he had two interviews in Portage la Prairie. He was extremely happy and he interviewed for Hi-Tec Industries and Season’s Restaurant. He decided to accept the offer from Hi-Tec and began his career with them in August of 2011. He was able to find an apartment with the help of Luis Luna who was the Settlement Worker at that time in Portage la Prairie and he purchased a car for commuting from his 8th Street NW apartment to Hi-Tec Industries on the opposite side of the city.

Things were going well for him in life as he had also met a lovely Canadian lady by the name of Rachel who was from Steinbach area, and completing her masters at the University of Manitoba for Nurse Practitioner. Then his car completely died on him and he was forced to walk to work (approximately seven kilometres a day) for the next four months (February-May). He found this difficult especially during the cold winter months as there was no public transportation in Portage la Prairie.

Again, the kindness from people in the community shone through and volunteers from the Learning and Literacy Centre, Abe and Mary Friesen, stepped forward and drove him to get groceries, household goods and included him in events and activities. The Evangelical Church (the Pastor and Myrna) helped too by inviting him out to events so he didn’t feel so isolated and lonely. Finally, the Trinity Church (Pastor Beth Kerr) offered up space for him to practice his religion and
pray on a regular basis. Mostafa was fitting into Portage la Prairie life and soon was married to Rachel and had a daughter in 2014 and a son in 2016. He even purchased a house in 2016.

Throughout all his years in Portage la Prairie, Mostafa was volunteering his time at the Portage Learning and Literacy Centre helping newcomers like himself; adjust to their new country and home. He could offer translation, and conversational English practice for those just learning English.

One day, he noticed a job posting at the Portage Learning and Literacy Centre for a Settlement Worker position and he was encouraged to apply to it. In September 2018 he was the successful candidate for that position and he has been helping newcomer families and individuals settle into the community of Portage la Prairie ever since. Mostafa feels that he has finally found his place in this world and he is content to “pay it forward” and help as many newcomers as he can with his positive mindset and friendly smile. Mostafa has found his “home” in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.


Michelle Cudmore
Former Local Immigration Partnership Coordinator