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Premier award honours ISSofBC for refugee resettlement efforts

ISSofBC is honoured to share the 2017 Premier’s Innovation and Excellence Award with the BC Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology for our role as an essential partner in the Refugee Readiness Fund Initiative.

The Refugee Readiness Fund, established in 2015, was the BC Government’s response to the emerging humanitarian crisis in Syria. The fund of $1 million helped facilitate pro-active community responses to ensure Syrian refugees were welcomed and supported in destined communities in BC.

The BC Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology utilized the fund, in collaboration with organizations across the province including ISSofBC, to set up five refugee response teams to proactively plan for the settlement of refugees in their communities.

An additional partnership with ISSofBC and the ministry established the Refugee Readiness Hub—an online resource for users in BC to read the latest status of refugee arrivals, find tools, resources and local settlement programs and services.

We are proud to contribute to this initiative and the positive impact is has created across the province.

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Women’s support program celebrates graduation of new community leaders


Immigrant Women’s Peer Support Program (IWPSP) celebrated the Facilitation and Leadership Training graduation of 23 women from 14 different countries last weekend at ISSofBC Welcome Centre.

Each year the IWPSP, in collaboration with PeerNet of BC, trains 15 to 20 newcomer women to become Volunteer Peer Support Group Facilitators.

The training takes place over 14 weeks and is taught by leading experts from various fields who donate their time and expertise to build up the skills-base of women working towards becoming community leaders and role-models.

The women learn about mental and physical health, self-awareness, communication skills, violence against women, parenting, employment standards, and more.

Upon completion, the volunteer facilitators are placed into teams of three where they create session plans and deliver 10-week peer support groups for other immigrant and refugee women within their own communities.

Program participants have reported an increase in self-esteem and self-confidence, formed lasting friendships and became more aware of the various services and resources available to them as well as a better understanding of Canadian culture.

Congratulations to all graduates and best wishes on your new roles in the community!

IWPSP is funded by the Vancouver Coastal Health SMART Fund.

Learn more about IWPSP

View graduation photos

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Learning in Action in Tri-Cities wraps up


ISSofBC students and volunteers in the Tri-Cities shared their favourite outings and time spent with their partners during Tuesday evening’s Learning in Action (LIA) year-end wrap up.

ISSofBC’s LIA program pairs volunteers with newcomer students to help them become more comfortable using English outside of the classroom, as well as help them explore and learn about their community during weekly meetups.

15 students from the ISSofBC LINC program were matched with volunteers October 3 to December 5 which incorporated two group outings: a Coquitlam Express Junior A hockey game, and a miniature art exhibition at the Place des Arts.

The wrap up party included delicious food and an interactive activity to help students learn more about Canada’s holiday traditions and vocabulary to describe what they see in the community.

In addition to the Tri-Cities, LIA is available to LINC students in Vancouver, Richmond, New Westminster and Maple Ridge.

Connect with us to learn more!

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UN Ambassadors get first-hand look at ISSofBC Welcome Centre


United Nations Ambassadors from 11 countries including Canadian Ambassador Marc‐André Blanchard visited ISSofBC Welcome Centre this morning to learn about Canada’s response to the global migration issues and the programs and services offered to refugees and immigrants.

Ambassadors from Colombia, Ghana, Guatemala, Jordan, Mali, Mauritania, Peru, United Republic of Tanzania and Viet Nam had the opportunity to tour the centre’s temporary housing units, one of the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) classes, the ISSofBC Preschool, and the Youth Hub led by ISSofBC Director of Settlement Services and Chris Friesen and Director of Language and Career Services Carla Morales.

“We are honoured that you have carved out time from your busy schedule to visit us and learn about our organization, in particular, about what we do to support people who come to Canada whether by design or by circumstance,” said ISSofBC Board of Directors President Jim Tallman during opening remarks of the visit.

The Ambassadors are in Vancouver as part of a two-day summit on peacekeeping that kicked off at the Vancouver Convention Centre today.

The conference is expected to draw over 500 delegates from over 70 countries, including defence ministers and representatives from the African Union, European Union, NATO, and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

View photos from the visit

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