Volunteer of the Month: Arija Duke

Language Services Department When Arija Duke left El Salvador for Toronto to care for her father, she never anticipated that just three years later she would be living in Winnipeg. Since moving here however, she has become a familiar face at the Immigrant Centre, where she has volunteered almost daily for the past year.

Before moving to Canada, Arija was already a successful lawyer specializing in Intellectual Property law and a Professor at Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador. Her five adult children were well established in their own careers; “two surgeons, two lawyers and a financial manager”, she says with a proud smile, but leaving El Salvador was still a very difficult decision.

After her father passed away, Arija felt lonely and isolated in Toronto. She had spent the majority of time caring for him and did not really know many people in the city. On the advice of her long-time friend Sandra Albanez, Director of Settlement Services at the Immigrant Centre, she sold her house and made the move to Winnipeg.

During her time in Toronto, Arija volunteered at the Consulate of El Salvador so when she arrived in Winnipeg, she was eager to start volunteering again. Almost immediately she applied for a volunteer position at the Immigrant Centre and since October 2016, has provided 425 hours of administrative support in our Language Services Department, as well as translator services for Spanish speaking clients.

“I am happy to volunteer here in Winnipeg” she says. “Many people need help and I am happy to help them.”