BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Former police chief Richard Bruce has taken over the helm of Westman Immigrant Services.
While Westman Immigrant Services is in the business of welcoming newcomers, its new executive director is no stranger to the city.
Former police chief Richard Bruce started work on Monday and said one of the things that delights him about his new role is the chance to work with a staff from a variety of nations — Latvia, Colombia, the Philippines and China, to name some.
"Working in the building now is like visiting the United Nations," Bruce said during an interview on Friday afternoon.
"I think I’m actually quite lucky to be able to do this."
"You can see that these people actually care about what they do."
Westman Immigrant Services is a not-for-profit organization that helps immigrants settle into the Brandon and Westman area.
It provides, for example, volunteer settlement partners who help acquaint newcomers with their surroundings, even if it’s something as simple as helping them to shop.
The organization also helps immigrants find jobs, and provides English classes and interpreters.
It has served more than 7,000 clients since it formed around 13 years ago.
It has taken on growing significance in recent years as the city has seen an influx of immigrants, thanks in part to Maple Leaf Foods, which has hired from a variety of countries.
Currently, around 475 students study English through the organization, which has a staff of about 36 people.
Bruce served 36 years with the Brandon Police Service and was its 16th chief between 2001 and 2006.
He said his experience as head of a large organization and the knowledge of the community he earned while on the force, will serve him in his new position.
But he also has extensive experience with not-for-profit groups.
Over the years, he has held positions with such organizations as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and United Way.
And he has remained active in the community since he retired from the force.
He has been both national vice-president and chancellor of St. John Ambulance, taught justice studies and political science at Brandon University and chaired a committee that studied how to expand Manitoba’s jail capacity.
As the new executive director of Westman Immigrant Services, Bruce replaces Leslie Allen, who left to pursue opportunities in Saskatoon.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 9, 2013