ISSofBC staff, clients, friends and family shared their favourite memories of living and working over three decades at Welcome House on Drake Street Wednesday before saying one final goodbye.
The facility permanently closed in March, its services having relocated to the ISSofBC Welcome Centre at 2610 Victoria Drive.
The One Last Visit event included photos and timeline displays, tours and speeches from former residents including Michel Uwimana, a refugee of the Democratic Republic of Congo who left Welcome House in February of this year with his wife and one-year-old son.
“This place was very beautiful to me, I wanted not even to move out of this place, because I could visit a staff member of ISSofBC where I could get all of my information,” said Uwimana.
ISSofBC Director of Settlement Services Chris Friesen , who worked in Welcome House for over two decades said the facility represents a fresh start for over 25,000 government-assisted refugees.
“When you look out over the past thirty years, and you look at the various world crises in the various parts of the world … it’s reflected in those that enter this building from the airport, those that had their opportunity to rebuild their lives in this country as future Canadians got their start within these four walls.”
Attendees of the visit also shared favourite memories of the Welcome House written on a wall near the entrance of the facility. The messages included “meeting wonderful people”, “I met the love of my life at Drake,” and “what a place – I call home Welcome House.”
A special thank you to all those who put together this wonderful event.