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Your MFS(E) Team
It’s Almost Tax Time!
By Sue Goddard, Senior Manager MFS(E)

Tax time is hardly anyone’s favourite time of the year and filing from OUTCAN comes with additional considerations, specifically around your residency status. Regardless of whether you file yourself, use an accountant or tax software, it is very important that you file with the correct residency status as it can impact your entitlement to government benefits as well as your ability to contribute to a TFSA.

Fortunately, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has an official information sheet on this subject. It can be found on the  MFS(E) website . It is also on the flash drive that you received in your MFS(E) welcome bag.

However, every year, we see spouses who file correctly but have their status changed by the CRA agent reviewing their return. The reality is that the group of CAF spouses filing from OUTCAN is relatively small and many CRA agents are just not familiar with the regulations regarding them, having maybe never ever dealt with one of those returns.

If you call CRA, you will often get incorrect information. Getting an incorrect status corrected can take a lot of effort and time. Therefore, we highly recommend that you print out the CRA information sheet and attach to your return. If you are using an accountant, you should provide him or her with this information sheet along with your other tax documents. It may save you a lot of effort down the road.
Did you know that our #ProudMoments are our most popular posts on our MFS(E) Facebook page?

They allow for all our European CAF community to be inspired and come together in congratulating small and big successes! Participate in this fun initiative and demonstrate how CAF families in Europe are resilient.

Send us your pictures and share your positive stories! We all need some good news from time to time!
European Advisory Committee
By Laura Kelly, representative for Europe West and Anne Reiffenstein, representative for Casteau

In November 2019, our newly reconstituted MFS(E) Advisory Committee met in Germany for orientation training, and the annual face-to-face meeting. Nine new committee members were welcomed, including increased representation for remote areas. Some of the topics identified for discussion over the next year include development or improvement of outreach to remote areas, sponsorship programs for incoming families, communication modalities, medical support to members and dependents, and financial health and planning. Other topics discussed included volunteerism, PSP programming, and differences in access to MFS(E) programs in various areas served.

Now that 2020 has arrived and our new 2019 arrivals are settling into life in Europe, it’s time to THRIVE! Living in Europe can be challenging when faced with new languages, different foods, different family routines, and more. Getting out and making connections can be a daunting prospect. One way to thrive in your new community is through volunteering. Some benefits of volunteerism are:

  • Personal growth
  • Resume building
  • Skill development
  • Improved mental health
  • Networking opportunities
  • Language development

Local Volunteering Most cities have a wide variety of organizations that need volunteers, including many that do not require proficiency in the local language. In addition, you can get involved with your local CAF and base communities to assist with community building programs. Some ideas to get started are listed below.

Community Based Volunteerism

Programs for at-risk populations – many cities have a multitude of volunteer organizations, particularly for the elderly, the homeless, and people with special needs. This can be an opportunity to practice new language skills while offering service to your community. Local schools, public hospitals or community health centres may be able to connect you with programs in your area. You do not always need to speak the local language. Some examples include:


Animal rescue programs – Like some of the above programs, this is an opportunity to improve language skills, but may only require a limited grasp on the language. This could include direct interaction with animals, or background activities like sorting through donations. SPCA affiliates are in many countries, and there are many local animal shelters in need of volunteers.

Sports programs – Even if you are not a pro athlete, many teams need volunteers to help with coaching, fundraising activities or to act as a team manager. If you have a passion for sport, contact a local club to see how you can help. You do not need to have children on the team to be a volunteer!

Note: A Criminal Record Check could be needed for some agencies. The following link explains the process from OUTCAN.

Volunteering a few hours every week in your local community is one way of creating networks of friendship and support while away from Canada helping you thrive in your new location while helping others.
Well-Being
Great West Life has changed its name

Great West Life (our dental provider) has amalgamated with Canada Life.

At this time, all this means for OUTCAN families is that the name has changed - from Great West Life to Canada Life. Your coverage, the procedure to claim, etc., has not changed.

Below is the link to the media release and the Canada Life branded form. You may start using the forms immediately.

If you haven’t already done so, it is recommended that all CAF family members create their own profile at the below link.
Ongoing Emotional Support with the Family Information Line

Stephanie and Lisa are experienced team members at the FIL who are currently providing this extended service. If you require emotional support, please do not hesitate to reach them by email at FIL@CAFConnection.ca  or at 00-800-771-17722 . They are looking forward to serving the families together.

If you would like more information on the ongoing emotional support service, click here .  

Faith education for youth and adults

If you or one of your children wish to acquire spiritual training to progress in your faith or in the sacraments (Catholic) you can request it through a chaplain, member of the Formation Europe chaplains team.

We will give you the information according to your religious denomination (Protestant, Catholic or any other religion). In our team of chaplains we have a pastor from the United Church of Canada (Padre Fox in London), a priest from the Lutheran Church (Padre Flor in Naples) and a priest from the Roman Catholic Church (Father Morin at SHAPE). We are at your service and disposal.
Opportunities
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The RCPO, CFSU(E) has an inventory of work vacancies, posted on the CAF Connection website . Dependents and spouses may browse this website if they are interested in working and submit their applications. As the inventory remains open, applications can be updated as dependents gain new qualifications or find new interests. ​
This inventory is open to dependents of Canadian civilian component and CAF members stationed in Europe. It will be used to staff positions within CFSU(E) locations in Europe and Turkey (Germany, Turkey, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and UK). 
For Global Affairs Canada local employment opportunities in Europe click here.
For NATO employment opportunities click here.
For Natex employment opportunitie s   click here .
News from our Centres
Prosper. Make the most of your time in Europe
By Joanie Beaulieu, community member

France, Switzerland, Portugal, Austria, Czech Republic, Scotland, Cape Verde. 7 countries, 7 different cultures and mentalities. There are the places our little troop of four set foot during our first year of transfer to Belgium.

I will always remember the comments of our families in Canada: "But you’re always travelling!" Or even "And the little ones, do they mind taking the plane or driving 8 hours?'' In fact, yes we travel whenever we have the opportunity, and kids don’t mind at all.

And here’s what works for us: NO endless lists of places to visit, but rather a list of desirables. A top 3 (or 5 at most) to see absolutely. Like that, no disappointments, but beautiful improvisations which allow us to experience moments rather local than the big tourist clichés.

Then, ADAPTATION and RESPECT are the watchwords. You just have to honor the rhythm and then the personality of each country. But above all, DON'T refrain from experiencing new adventures.

Why should we stop visiting our host continent when the borders are open to us and there are so many stories to discover on the European continent?

In search of adventure, open-mindedness rubs off on the whole family and makes it easier for us to adapt when we travel.

Whether it is the climate, different languages spoken, the physical terrain or even the food, each place has something different to offer. And I'm always more than happy to note that every adventure is full of positives.

For example, arriving at the airport in Portugal, I discovered how sensitive this country is to different demographics of people who travel. There, it is a priority in this order: Elderly, families with babies / toddlers and others. There are even public signs to remind people of this courtesy.

In Cape Verde, the locals were by far the nicest people we have ever met with our little ones. Even when they are fussy or a little impatient; locals never hesitated to come to us to help distract the children during meals so that we could have more time at the table.

In Austria, our hostess waited until 11:30 p.m. to welcome us properly, even though we were supposed to have arrived much earlier. She even offered to clean our clothes for free because our little one had been carsick during the drive.

In short, each time we meet extraordinary humans. Lovely people, with a mentality that ultimately comes very close to ours.

By traveling whenever we have the opportunity, we discover that the whole family benefits enormously: humanly speaking and culturally as well. We give ourselves a trip with life and that is priceless.
Remember this: it is by opening up to the world that the world then opens up to you.

So take advantage of every opportunity!
Carpe diem
By Daniela Birch, Member of the community

Living, working and going to school in a new country has definitely been a new experience for our family. I was asked by one of the MFS(E) team to do a short write-up about thriving in Belgium. I thought rather than trying to give advice on the subject I’d share a story about one of our experiences here in Belgium. Our family moved to Belgium in August 2018 and started to settle in. Our home here in Belgium had a different layout than our home in Canada and we needed to get a dining table for our new empty dining room. We used a local online marketplace and found some beautiful tables in nearby towns and made arrangements to go see them. 

My husband and I set out to have a look at a table one Saturday morning. We had a bit of trouble getting there because our connection was spotty in some areas, but before we knew it, Google Maps said we had arrived. We messaged the seller to let them know we arrived.

They lived in a second-floor apartment, so they told us to come on up. We approached the door and I remember my husband saying that the townhouses didn’t look like apartments but we noted the correct street number on the house so we let ourselves in. There was a beautiful grand foyer upon entry. I was in love with the high ceilings, the marble floor and the ornate hallway table. I ran my hand over the beautiful table as I paused to admire a large painting that hung above it. I thought the frame was just as beautiful as the painting. My husband was looking for a way upstairs when suddenly we noticed a woman slowly poke her head out from around a doorway down the hall. "Bonjour!" I said. "We're here to see a dining room table upstairs." After an awkward moment of silence and unmistakable look of shock on the woman’s face we quickly realized we may have just let ourselves in to someone else’s home. We did.

The lovely homeowner gave us a chance to explain, in our best broken French, what we were doing in her home as she slowly ushered us down her hallway and showed us the door. I remember profusely apologizing to her as we were leaving. I thought that poor woman! I just walked into her house. I touched her furniture! She must've been terrified. Thankfully she was very understanding.

We did make it to the correct address that day which, incidentally, was still four blocks away (thanks a bunch Google Maps) and once there we insisted that the seller meet us outside.

We had a good laugh about it later that day. We've learned to see the humour in our mistakes because we will make mistakes, despite our good intentions, and it's okay. We've learned (and accepted the fact) that Google Maps will steer us wrong out here in between the old buildings and bumpy cobblestone roads, and it's okay. We’ve learned to go easy on ourselves. Thriving also means overcoming obstacles and embarrassing moments, no matter how mortifying they appear to be at the time. Carpe all your diems with the right attitude and you’ll always have an interesting story to tell.
Thriving in Napoli! Shopping in Italy!
By Rachel Gaulin, Community Service Provider

To live in Naples and as an expat is for me an incredible opportunity for discovery. I read all the books by Italian authors that come my way. I "Shazam" all the Italian songs I like on the radio. And it's the same with food.

But recently, I have had the great opportunity to learn more about the treasures small shops in Naples have to offer. This is all thanks to my new friend Heris (a Canadian soldier on the NATO base) who, in his professional life, is serious and disciplined, as his job requires, but once he put down his uniform, lives his passion for fashion. Heris is Congolese.

In this country, fashion has been elevated near the status of religion. It is, in fact, the "KITENDI" religion (Kitenti means fabric or material). This fashion also has another name: ''SAPE''. SAPE means ‘’Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes’’ (Society of Posers and Elegant People). To be a sapper you must, among other things, wear the great couturiers: Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani. When I met Heris while visiting the NATO base with my spouse, he told me he was from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since I knew about the SAPE phenomenon, I asked him point-blank: are you a "Congolese sapper" by any chance? He was completely blown away by my question and answered enthusiastically: Yes! And you know that? I then made him promise to take me shopping with him. I'm not the only one too. Other Canadians and even members of the military have asked him for this favor.

One Saturday morning, we left together for Garibaldi Square. This is a long way from the fancy boulevards. There, you are in the invisible realm of great bargains. In spite of the rain falling, Heris was dressed like a ‘’carte de mode’’. I must admit I had been a little intimidated when I got dressed that morning. I asked him what his most precious garment was: ''My Giorgio Armani outfit I wore to my wedding with square-headed crocodile-skin shoes''. But that's not his only extravagance: ''I have a skirt (in SAPE men can wear skirts). This skirt was made by Yohji Yamamoto. But my wife refuses to let me wear it.’’ (Laughter)

We started wandering through a maze of small streets and Heris says to me: "Naples is a huge hiding place for Ali Baba". People come from all over to buy shoes in Naples. So we started with the shoes. How does one describes these shops? Let's say that nothing, but really nothing from the outside allows you to imagine the luxury you find inside. A backyard, at the end of a dark street, with barely a poster outside to announce it. Let's just say that if I had ventured into the neighborhood on my own, I would’ve turned around. Everywhere we went, Heris got the same treatment as the regulars. They greeted him, sometimes in French. They called him "little brother".

What to buy in Naples? Heris gives you a list of must-haves: "Genuine leather moccasins for men and women. Handbags, high-heeled shoes for women and suits for men’’. There are also local design houses that can custom-make clothes. I suspect that Heris must have paid himself for the services of a local designer. I left our shopping trip with a few bags: pants, 2 sweaters, a shirt and boots. I already received a few compliments. I will eventually return to Place Garibaldi on my own and I hope I will remember Heris' wise advices. What an adventure and what a great way to integrate into my new adoptive country!
It takes a village
By Margaret Mackenzie, community member

We live in a remote German location, we equate it to witness protection as it is such quiet & quaint village life. English is not spoken here and as an extravert living in this introvert world the first 6 months here for me as a CAF spouse was a struggle. My dad always said that as human beings we are meant to give back wherever we live. After 6 months of struggle and processing everything in my own head, a dangerous thing for an extravert lol, I knew that I needed to make a change.  

As luck or fate would have it, it was around this time of year that I met a vendor who spoke English in our small town. He shared with me that the community had a food bank that was called Die Tafel and that they were always looking for people to volunteer their time and talents to help give more than 100 local families the opportunity to feed their families. Things happen for a reason and its about saying yes to opportunities when they present themselves.  

So, armed with google translate and a pen, paper and all the courage I could muster, I went to the location that the vendor gave to me and asked if I could volunteer for die Tafel. Uta was the first person that I met, and I soon learned that none of the staff spoke a word of English. We communicated with google translate and I was asked to come on the following Saturday for training. We worked hard like ants with strength, speed and a system with a hard work ethic, which transcended beyond language in this international community. If you see a job, do a job. 

That was 3 years ago, at the time I did not understand or speak German and one of the volunteers was clearly not happy to have me there. While I did not understand her words, her actions were undeniable that she was never going to speak English to me and that I would have to figure it out on my own. She has since come around and we are one very strong community. 
 
This group of women have not only taught me to speak and understand German, they have also taught me the importance of community and that, as human beings, where ever we are living, giving back to our local community changes our perspective. What a fabulous posting this has been and I give some of the credit to our local Food Bank and the love & passion they have for their community. Thanks for letting me share, in the hopes that others will have the courage to volunteer in their local communities as well. As Canadian ambassadors it is important to give back. It takes a village!
Great Ways for Youth to get Involved in a Community
By Rowan Allan, YEP student 

Moving can be a stressful and emotional time period for youth. It is important to ensure that our youth adapt and settle into their new communities. Here are a few easy ways to get them involved in their new community; this way, they can make new friends, discover new activities or hobbies that they can engage in, and find their part in the community to make them feel included and at home. 

  • Babysitting. This is one of the best ways to get involved in a community. This way, youth can meet new people and new children. The more accustomed you get with the people, the easier it will become to get information about your new community and you will be more comfortable seeing familiar faces around!

  • Dog walking/sitting. Animals can also make you more complacent in your new area. Seeing a friendly pet face around will surely make it easier to get comfortable. This is also another way to get to know the people within the more than likely small community. Performing odd jobs such as these can make you better known, and introduce youth to new friends, schoolmates or more potential work offers.

  • Clubs. This is also one of the best ways to get comfortable and will help you settle right in! More than likely, your community will have some, or lots of youth clubs/groups. Try something new! Finding new hobbies and interests can surely make you settle in better; also, being part of a specific club or group will expose you to people who have the same interests (new friends)!

  • Sports. As previously mentioned, joining activities like this, which you enjoy, put you in an environment with people who like the same thing. This is perhaps the easiest way to make a sure friend or two! Team members have to have some sort of connection and bond with each other, so young people will find it easier getting more comfortable in a community when being involved in something like a sports team. Not to mention, playing a sport you have previously played in your old community (or just doing something you’ve always loved doing) can make you feel more at home and comfortable.

  • Jobs/volunteering. One can volunteer at almost any age. Young people can donate their time to events such as bake sales or help out at events like family fun day etc. If you’re old enough, find a job in a place forcing you to interact with community members daily. This can include fast food restaurants, bookstores, art stores, movie theaters etc. Also, be bold. If you choose to get a job like this, make sure you are charismatic and friendly; work your charm and show people how great you are, this way you can make acquaintances with lots of people and maintain a good reputation that can benefit you in the future. 

And that’s all! Five simple ways to settle in and get comfortable in a new community.
Make the absolute most of your OUTCAN experience
By Natalie MacLellan, Employment, Education and Training Coordinator

Eighteen and a half months. That’s how long we have been in Riga. We have just passed the midway point of our OUTCAN posting. I can hardly believe it. I feel like I have been here forever, while also feeling like we just got here. The fact that we go home “soon” is already making me sad.

The posting has not been without its challenges. As I write this, my landlord is here with two contractors, or “Masters” as they are known locally, fixing some plumbing and electrical issues in our flat. We’re using Google translate and Siri to help us communicate in a mix of English, Latvian, and Russian. Plumbing is confusing enough in English, right? It’s times like this that I feel the most lost. I am reliant entirely on people who I cannot effectively communicate with, and it’s easy to feel like I have no control over my surroundings. 

And still, people are the same everywhere. They are doing all they can to make this easy for me. (When we arrived, my landlord did not know what Google translate was, now she’s a pro!) I live in a beautiful apartment at the top of an Art Nouveau building in Riga, with a view over the city centre and old town, and a private terrace. It’s an old building and it comes with its challenges, but it is also so beautiful! It simply cannot be compared to my condo in Ottawa, which until now I considered perfectly nice. I am forever spoiled.

Tonight, I am off to a potluck dinner with about 20 other Canadians in the CAF community. Before I go, I need to finalize plans for upcoming trips to Spain and Portugal, and make plans for my sister’s visit later this spring. Life is good. The opportunities presented just by living here are once in a lifetime. When I start to feel overwhelmed by how complicated it suddenly seems to get a leaky toilet fixed, I always remind myself of this. I am seeing new countries, learning new languages, and making so many new friends!

Those of you who arrived this past summer are hopefully now starting to feel settled – or nearly there. But if you are not, don’t worry too much about it. Everyone’s process is a little different. Whether you came with kids or pets, or all by yourself, we all have so much to figure out when we arrive in Europe. It is not easy, but your MFS team, and your extended Canadian community is here to help. Reach out – we want to help you thrive !
Making the most of your time in Europe
By Eric MacKenzie, Community Services Manager

It is now 2020! Some of you recently took advantage of being in Europe for the holiday season by visiting Christmas Markets, and others traveled back to Canada to spend the holidays there. I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas Holidays, and found time to re-connect with family and friends, and also took time for yourself to be rejuvenated for the New Year.

Ringing in 2020 means that those who arrived last summer are now over halfway through their first OUTCAN year, while others, unfortunately, only have a few months left before this APS finds them returning back to Canada. Making the most of your time in Europe will be what defines your experience and memories during OUTCAN. 

The MFS(E) Posting Cycle of Support is: Prepare, Move, Arrive, Connect, Settle and Thrive. MFS(E) can help ensure that you are Thriving during your OUTCAN time, through achieving a peace of mind, knowing that you are equipped to handle emergency situations. For example, all families must have a Family Care Plan in place and should be familiar with local emergency numbers.

It is also very important to familiarize yourself with the resources available to you in the event of a deployment or family separation. Plus, you can take advantage of online virtual events to connect with other CAF families in Europe and find out about your local Unit Fund e vents.

You can also explore personal development opportunities such as the Adult Employability Program or gain volunteer experience by joining our European Advisory Committee .

Arguably, one of the most popular benefits of OUTCAN is the opportunity to travel in Europe. Thriving has never been as easy as it is when you participate and win in the PSP’s chalet program . Furthermore, you can join our MFS(E) virtual travel forum to share your experiences and learn from other CAF families posted throughout Europe. 

Personally, my spouse and I just got to experience the Chalet program and just returned from a week in Austria, where even a non-skier like me can be overwhelmed by the natural beauty of the Alps.

MFS(E) is here to help you and your families Thrive in the U.K. Please never hesitate to reach out to us for support and assistance. We want to help you make the most of your time in Europe!
Staying Connected
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Take a look at some of the programs offered to CAF members and their families by CFMWS Support Our Troops. Click on the image above to access the complete placemat.
News from our Partners
Here is the latest news from PSP!
The Wellness Project
 
PSP Europe in collaboration with the Health Promotion team from Trenton is offering a new Health Promotion (HP) program to CAF members and their families and DND/NPF employees and their families. Over the next 10 months, OUTCAN personnel and their families can participate in one-hour virtual workshops. Come and join us in this great program designed by a team of experts!

For the list of the upcoming sessions and for more details on the project, click here!   
 
The PSP Chalet Program offers accommodation options in various parts of Europe at a 40% subsidy by the European Fund. All accommodations are fully furnished and well equipped. The PSP Chalet Program also offers Full-Flex vouchers. The Full Flex vouchers can be used to offset the cost associated with accommodations such as hotel rooms, RV rentals, vacation apartments, as well as cruises. Prizes are awarded in a lottery held twice a year. The information regarding the lottery for the Summer Chalets/prizes will be sent to EF members at the end of January.
 
Visit our  website  for more information about the program and the chalets available. You may also contact the Chalet Coordination for more details at 
Hospital Comfort Fund
 
The European Fund Committee recently voted to change their Hospital Comforts Program. 

These changes include a simplified form and bring the program in-line with the benefits received by CAF members when they are hospitalized. Furthermore, parking is now included in the reimbursements! Please click here for more information.  
A new positional email
 
Jovelyn Niese has a new positional email. You can contact her at +psp.europe@forces.gc.ca
Here is a new poster from Children Education Management!
Are you confused about who does what at CEM in GK?
Check the poster below!