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History of ISSofBC

Since ISSofBC’s incorporation in 1972, the organization continues to lead in the delivery of services and programs for immigrants and refugees in British Columbia.

ISSofBC Welcome Centre opens in the summer of 2016 providing integrated housing and support services for newcomers destined to BC. In addition, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau visit the Welcome Centre as part of the royal tour.

The organization continues construction of the ISSofBC Welcome Centre–Metro Vancouver’s regional support and services hub for refugees and immigrants. In addition, ISSofBC takes a leading role in the largest refugee resettlement plan of this generation in BC with close to 2,000 Syrian GARs expected by the end of February 2016.

ISSofBC begins construction of the New Welcome House facility, the first of its kind in Canada. With a groundbreaking ceremony on June 20th, UN World Refugee Day, ISSofBC begins a new chapter in providing service and assistance to immigrants and refugees in BC.

ISSofBC officially opens locations in Richmond and Maple Ridge expanding services for immigrant and refugee children, youth and young adults; ISSofBC Director of Settlement Services co-chairs leading UN-led refugee resettlement conference.

ISSofBC celebrates 40 years of supporting newcomers to Canada. The anniversary is marked with a multimedia exhibit showcasing the journeys of six aspiring Canadians through interviews, portraits and personal stories.

ISSofBC expands delivery of Settlement and Integration Services (SIP) through opening of new locations in Langley, Maple Ridge and Richmond; as well as ELSA L-5 programs in Maple Ridge, Squamish and Burnaby; starts Targeted Skills Shortage Pilot.

The organization opens a second office in Richmond to deliver ELSA L–5 programs; starts the Job Options program in Vancouver, Surrey and Port Coquitlam.

ISSofBC delivers Youth Connections to provide services for Older Refugee Youth and Young Adults; starts the Public Legal Education for Immigrants (PLEI) services in Tri-Cities (as part of the Justice Education Society-led consortium); starts the Skills Connect for Immigrants program for newcomer immigrants; accredited by Language Canada.

The organization delivers the first Refugee Trauma Information and Support Program; opens ELSA in New Westminster and Mentoring Connections Program; starts New Beginnings Refugee ECD programming (as part of the SHARE-led consortium in the Tri-Cities); opens the Burnaby-New Westminster Career Centre.

ISSofBC provides Step Ahead (as part of the MOSAIC-led consortium); begins delivery of “Employment Outreach Services

ISSofBC opens the Burnaby Settlement office; introduces Labour Market Focused ELSA 4-5 classes in Richmond, Vancouver and Coquitlam.

The organization opens Settlement services in Coquitlam; opens the Surrey Multilingual Employment Resource Centre; opens ELSA offices in Coquitlam and Richmond.

Staff launch the beginning of targeted newcomer children and youth programming; introduce Enhanced English Language Services for Adults (ELSA) 4-5 programming in Richmond and Coquitlam.

ISSofBC settlement workers deploy into Burnaby and New Westminster.

The organization becomes accredited under the BC Private Post Secondary Education Act.

ISSofBC opens up the Richmond Career Centre.

Staff introduce ISSofBC’s first performance-based contract – Crossroads (Workplace Based Training); responds to the emergency evacuation of over 900 Kosovo refugees.

ISSofBC becomes the sole deliverer of the Resettlement Assistance Program for Government Assisted Refugees destined to BC.

ISSofBC signs a contract with the Ministry of Human Resources to deliver the organizations first training programs for clients in receipt of provincial assistance.

The organization introduces the Adult and Continuing Education Program (ISSofBC’s fee-for-service language and training program).

ISSofBC co-founds the Bridge Community Health Clinic for refugees; begins providing targeted primary health care for refugees.

ISSofBC purchases the Drake St facility in downtown Vancouver; introduces specialized service to refugee claimants (SOS founding member).

The organization delivers its first federally-funded Employment Assistance Services for unemployed immigrants with limited or no English.

Staff delivers ISSofBC’s first government-funded ESL training programs.

The organization opens the Welcome House facility, offering temporary accommodation to all government assisted refugees destined to BC; pioneers refugee reception services in the province. In addition the City of Vancouver provides ISSofBC a social policy grant for the first ethno-specific youth worker (Vietnamese) in the city.

ISSofBC begins delivering one of the first refugee newcomer-volunteer matching “Host programs” in Canada; registers as a Training Institute.

ISSofBC starts the first training program for immigrants: housekeeping services.

The organization responds to the plight of the Vietnamese Boat People.

ISSofBC begins delivering settlement services under the federal government’s first immigrant integration policy and program framework – Immigrant Settlement Adaptation Program (ISAP).

ISSofBC provides Step Ahead (as part of the MOSAIC-led consortium); begins delivery of “Employment Outreach Services

The organization changes its name to Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia.

Staff Initiate volunteer-led English as a Additional Language (EAL) language classes.

ISSofBC incorporates as the Immigrant Services Society of Greater Vancouver – the first immigrant serving agency in BC in direct response to the resettlement of close to 800 Ismaili refugees fleeing Uganda’s Idi Amin; pioneers what is today commonly referred to as “settlement services”.

A group of local volunteers convene at the request of Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, including Vancouver East MP Harold Winch and Eleanor Strong (later to become first Executive Director) as a response to the growing unrest in East Africa and possible future organized refugee resettlement movement to BC.