Our Team

Mohamed Bagha

Managing Director

Mohamed was asked to lead the Saint John Newcomers Centre in October of 2013. He brings a wealth of professional experience and proven leadership from his previous roles in economic development and management, including building an immigrant-serving agency from the get-go. 

Mohamed has experienced himself what being a newcomer is like and he is grateful for leading a cause that makes it easier for newcomers and immigrants to thrive and succeed in Saint John. He has a Master of Interdisciplinary Degree focusing on Economic Development from the University of New Brunswick. His works have been adopted for implementation by various municipal governments in the region, and he has been commissioned to do consulting work in Economic Development across Southern New Brunswick.

Services offered in: Hindi, Swahili, and English


Lina Gharbiya

Anglophone Newcomer Settlement Advisor

Lina Gharbiya moved to Saint John from Halifax in 1994 to enroll for her studies at the University of New Brunswick. She has been involved with newcomers for the past twenty years, guiding them through and helping them settle in. Lina studied Data Analysis with a minor in Business at UNBSJ, and worked in taxes as a Quality Controller for over ten years. For the past fifteen years, Lina volunteered at various schools, community centres, and hospitals. She has four wonderful children, the older two are in UNBF and UNBSJ and the other two keep her busy all the time with their non-stop activities.

Lina believes that working at the Newcomers Centre is the perfect way to develop her passion for helping, guiding and supporting newcomers. She also believes the Centre's workshops, sessions, and events to be the best platform for newcomers to make connections in the Greater Saint John area. 

Services offered in: Arabic and English


William Tarr

Newcomer Settlement Advisor (Atlantic Immigration Pilot Project)

William is the go-to person at the Newcomers Centre for the Atlantic Immigration Pilot project. He provides support to designated employers, helping them settle their newly hired foreign skilled staff coming to Saint John and developing settlement plans for employees that are already in Canada.

William moved to Saint John in the summer of 2011 to join his family, and today he is very proud to call Saint John his home. Himself a newcomer, William brings to our team a wealth of experience not only from his successful settlement in Saint John, but also from working within the settlement sector for the past three years. He is very passionate about making Saint John an inclusive community welcoming people from all around the world and from all walks of life.

Apart from helping newcomers to get a good start in their new community, William enjoys speaking on issues pertaining to immigration, refugees and cultural competency. William holds a joint M.Sc. degree in Regional Development Planning & Management from the Technical University of Dortmund (Germany) and the University of Philippine Diliman (Philippines).

Services offered in: English


Doaa Higazy

Allophone Newcomer Settlement Advisor

Doaa Higazy was born in Egypt. She has a Master’s degree in Applied Arts, having combined in her studies a range of subjects from Arts and Culture to Consumer Behaviour and Consumer Psychology.

Doaa moved to Saint John with her family in September 2017. Her son is studying Computer Science at the University of New Brunswick, her daughter is finishing high school in Saint John (she is also a participant in Imagine NB program, which she liked a lot and found very useful), and her youngest son is attending middle school. The whole family has fallen in love with our city, and they are now very happy to call it home.

Before joining our team, Doaa had been an active volunteer in the local community. She helped at the YMCA, Prude Inc. and the Saint John Newcomers Centre too, working as an interpreter and an English language instructor for kids.

Doaa loves helping people, which is why she enjoys her work at the Centre so much.

Services offered in: Arabic and English


Valentine Tatchuinwa

Francophone Newcomer Settlement Advisor

Valentine is originally from Cameroon where she studied to become a nurse and worked at a hospital for several years before immigrating to Canada in 2016. She arrived in Saint John in July 2017 from Quebec with her family. She chose to live in Saint John because of its nature and family-oriented way of life where everyone knows everyone. Saint John is an ideal place to take care of her family.

Since her arrival, Valentine immediately started working at the francophone daycare at ARCf de Saint-Jean. She is motivated and passionate about the world of child care. So much so, that she decided to take courses on early childhood education at NBCC where she received her diploma in 2019.

Valentine was actively volunteering in the community before joining the team at the Saint John Newcomers Centre. For her becoming a Settlement Advisor is an opportunity to offer newcomers services that she also received during her integration into the City of Saint John. Apart from the above, Valentine is passionate about hairstyling and specializes in African hairstyles. Since living Cameroon she has practiced this passion and hopes to share it across the City of Saint John.

Services offered in: French


Béatrice Vermaut

Newcomer Settlement Advisor in Francophone Schools

Béatrice was born in France and raised her family in the Swiss Alpes. After studying law she worked in the French education system where she organized, put into place, and evaluated learning programs for handicap children from the ages of 3 to 15 years old. Additionally, she has actively contributed to the creation of multidisciplinary working groups on the academic and social learning of students in French schools. 

In 2017 Béatrice and her family settled in Saint John, fulfilling her husband's dream to live in Canada. Inevitably, her whole family fell in love with Saint John. 

Since arriving in Saint John Béatrice worked at a francophone daycare and very quickly took on the opportunity to become an educator specializing in early intervention. She has worked with families across all fronts of early childhood education, including educators, schools, school districts, social services, and medical professionals. At the Saint John Newcomers Centre, she will use her experience to help the children of newcomer families, choosing the Francophone school system, to perform better academically and socially. 

Services offered in: French


Guy Verna

Volunteer and Event Coordinator

Guy is originally from Haiti. He moved to Montreal in 1976 to study and then moved to Saint John with his son in 2011 to start a new chapter of life. Guy joined the Saint John Newcomers Centre team first in 2012, and later – following a brief departure – again in 2016. He leads the organization of our many events and coordinates our francophone volunteers.

Guy is the driving force Culture Fest, Green BBQ, Multicultural Day, Canada Day, Immigration Week, Christmas party, Francophone week, Acadian Day, Halloween pumpkin carving, and various sports activities for newcomer kids. Guy is passionate about soccer he is a certified soccer coach, referee instructor, and a former national referee in Canada. He also played professionally for Vasco da Gama, Elio Blues, and Corifinium FC.

Services offered in: French, Haitian creole, English 


Emily MacMackin

Communications Specialist

Emily was born in Saint John but moved home from Halifax where she completed her Bachelor of Public Relations at Mount Saint Vincent University in 2015. She focuses her communications efforts in the not-for-profit and small business sectors where she has the opportunity to create and implement collaborative solutions for marketing and public relations initiatives.

Working with a suite of creative tools, Emily strives to help non-profits find new and creative ways to communicate their data, programming and social change.

Emily participated in the Rotary Exchange program where she lived in Lille, France. Additionally, she helped to host and introduce many exchange students from all corners of the world to the area. Emily is very happy to share her perspective and skillset with newcomers to Greater Saint John!

Services offered in: English and French


Célestine Mayhew

Francophone Settlement Support Agent

Originally from Ottawa, Célestine has lived in Saint John for many years and considers herself to be a true Maritimer. In 2020, she graduated from St. Thomas University in Fredericton with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Fine Arts.

Célestine’s passion for working with newcomers to Canada began when she was a staff member for the french day-camp, a project developed in collaboration between Centre Scolaire Samuel-de-Champlain and the Saint John Newcomers Centre. This experience provided her with a different perspective on intercultural communication and integration, fueling her interest to work with immigrants and refugees long-term.

As a recent addition to the organization, Célestine is responsible for the support and communication between Francophone and Anglophone Settlement advisors. She is excited to be a part of the Saint John Newcomers Center and its amazing team!

Services offered in: French and English


Samah El Maghlawy

Consultant (Magnet/Align)

Samah is an Egyptian Canadian international expert in marketing and communications. She also has experience in consumer behaviour, entrepreneurship, and market research. After completing her MBA at UNB Saint John, Samah has developed a passion for teaching. For the past three years, she has been teaching part-time at the UNB's faculty of business. Samah is an advocate of active learning, and of making knowledge relevant to the real world. The topic of her MBA research was Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Intentions and Motivations. Samah is keen to pursue further studies to help newcomers in Saint John.

Since she had moved to Saint John with her husband and two children, Samah has been an active volunteer in the community. She believes that newcomers bring unique experiences and significant value to the city.

Services offered in: Arabic and English


Saint John Newcomers Centre: 165 Union Street, tel. +1.506.642.4242, email welcome@sjnewcomers.ca. Find us on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn. Subscribe to our newsletter. Check out our events.