There’s More to Sara’s Story

Published: March 21, 2024

Sara came to Canada as a refugee with her five children, her elderly mother, and nothing else but a backpack. When her family arrived, they needed help. “I wish people knew that refugees coming to Canada come with a lot of pain,” said Sara. “I lived 40 years in my home country. It’s so difficult to start over. Things are so different here.”

While Sara’s family was able to connect with some services that made their transition easier, they were really struggling to understand Canada’s financial landscape.

On top of it being extremely expensive to live in Vancouver, the financial systems in Canada were unfamiliar to Sara. She didn’t understand the importance of having good credit and the ways credit history impacts access to housing; it wasn’t something that existed in the South American country she immigrated from. There were so many financial pieces to manage, all while also learning English, raising her children, caring for her mother, facing discrimination, working, and handling all of life’s other demands. Debts began piling up and things were getting dire.

When at a discussion group for newcomers, she heard about Financial Empowerment. This wasn’t the first time she had tried to connect with a financial support service, but this time was different. Sara was met with empathy, professionalism, and fully individualized support by her Financial Empowerment Coach. In the other programs, she hadn’t been able to meet the eligibility criteria. Her family is not cookie cutter, and, due to her unique circumstances as a refugee, her deliberation took longer than usual leaving her unable to access many resources intended for refugees. Sara came to our program with a lot of stress. She was in crisis. “Without my coach, my family would have been living on the streets. I’m serious,” she said.

With the support she found in Financial Empowerment’s 1-on-1 coaching services, Sara took control of her finances.

“My [Financial Empowerment] coach taught me so much, like a professor, and now I have been able to teach some of that to people in my community. I educate them not to be scared of doing things the right way, the legal way. It’s better.”

People get the chance to take control of their lives, financially and otherwise, when they have the right support. The right support is nonjudgmental, compassionate, and personalized it takes into account that there’s always more to someone’s story, that there’s more that led them to our doors. In Sara’s case, she was juggling huge life changes and didn’t have experience with a credit system. Sara’s story to how she came to us is an intersection of so many things – and we’re so proud to have honoured and accommodated her unique situation, giving her the individualized, nonjudgmental support she deserved so that she could learn to navigate Canada’s financial system and take care of her family.


There’s no doubt about it; our Financial Empowerment coaching service changes lives.
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*Please note that this is not a picture of Sara, whose name has also been changed for privacy.