Our Vision

“We All Thrive Together in Community.”

We envision a future where everyone grows and flourishes in life. We learn from each other and support one another as we build our futures together. We connect people and families to the communities where they arrive and settle, recognizing that each of us thrives in communities when everyone feels a sense of belonging, and communities are stronger when all of us thrive. 

Our Mission

Helping immigrants build a future in Canada.

Staff at ISSofBC 50th Anniversary staff celebration

Our Core Values and Guiding Principles

We work with purpose.

We are determined, intentional, and ambitious. We are committed to making a meaningful contribution so that everyone thrives.

  • We recognize we are all connected to an effort that’s greater than each of us.
  • We are thoughtful and deliberate with our choices.
  • We pursue change for the better.
  • We build enduring relationships and foster collaboration.

We aspire to improve.

We strive for continuous learning and mutual growth. We seek new ideas to create opportunities and prepare for challenges.  

  • We persevere, despite obstacles and hardship. 
  • Whatever we do, we do it with passion.  
  • We do our best, and “when we know better, we do better.”  
  • We test and implement innovative solutions. 

We cultivate belonging.

We meet everyone with empathy, acceptance, and respect. We work with others to build more welcoming and inclusive communities.  

  • We embrace diversity. Come as you are!
  • We work to break down the barriers that hold back equity, justice, and a sense of belonging.
  • We celebrate and enhance people’s unique strengths, supporting them to reach their full potential.
  • We respect the identities and traditions of diverse groups and cultures.

We are genuine.

We demonstrate humility and openness. We are empathetic and seek to inspire confidence and earn trust. We are ‘in it together.’  

  • We strive to ensure every interaction is a moment of authentic connection.  
  • We look for and celebrate the best in others.  
  • We ‘show up’ as our full selves.  
  • We accept that we don’t have all the answers. 

Our baseline values & principles


We uphold strong ethical principles.

  • We strive to be consistent in what we say and do.
  • We accept responsibility for our actions and their impacts.


We are sincere, truthful, and transparent.

  • We are open to having hard conversations, for the good of everyone.
  • We share information openly and willingly.


We show consideration for others’ feelings, wishes, rights and traditions.

  • We build on strengths, rather than be limited by deficits.
  • We appreciate the insights of one another’s lived experiences.
We all thrive together in community

Strategic Plan 2022-2025

Our simple, but ambitious vision is to ensure we all thrive together in community.

We’re a social impact organization with 50 years of history that is built on a strong mission, “Helping immigrants build a future in Canada”, and values base.

Meet our teams

Board of Directors

Our talented and dedicated board members reflect the diversity and ambition of our staff and clients.

Executive Leadership

Our leadership team brings a combined 125 years of experience in executive management and newcomer support.

Senior Management

The Senior Management team works to ensure the needs of our clients are met through our various programs and intiatives.

Our CEO’s Message

I have spent my entire career working to strengthen communities and support systems. I’m humbled and proud to continue this journey with ISSofBC and look forward to building on the incredible success Patricia and the ISSofBC team have achieved to date. As we continue to address the impact of COVID-19 and other critical challenges facing our society and country, furthering our organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, our broad work to promote social justice, and our support of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples will be key priorities for me.

Our History

We have provided services for newcomers like you for over 50 years, helping you settle, enhance your careers and learn all you need to know about life in Canada. As one of Canada’s oldest immigrant-serving organizations, we have much to celebrate throughout our long history. Here are just some of our key milestones:

1968 – 1979

The Early Years

Even before incorporation in 1972 as the first immigrant-serving agency in British Columbia, local volunteers including Eleanor Strong (who later became our first Executive Director) responded to the crisis in East Africa by supporting the resettlement of 1,400 Ismaili refugees fleeing Idi Amin’s regime in Uganda.

Seeing the need for more services, we started dedicated settlement and language services. As a result, we played a key role in welcoming Vietnamese Boat People to Canada in 1978-79.

1980 – 2000

Building the foundations

During this period we continued to develop and deliver new and innovative programs. These included skills training, the refugee-volunteer matching “HOST” program, temporary accommodation for refugees, English language training, the Bridge Community Health Clinic, the creation of our Language and Career College (LCC), and Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP).


ISSofBC expands across British Columbia

As demographics changed across BC, we expanded into Metro Vancouver, starting programs in Richmond, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey, Maple Ridge, Langley and Squamish.

This expansion included new initiatives such as high-level language classes, mentoring, a trauma information and support program for refugees, accreditations from Languages Canada and greater engagement with WorkBC.

2014 – 2016

A new Welcome Centre and a Royal Visit

In 2014, the ground-breaking ceremony of our Victoria Drive Welcome Centre represented a major milestone in a three decade-long process creating a new service hub for newcomers.

Our Vancouver Welcome Centre opened its doors to the community in 2016, becoming a world-first in newcomer integration, accommodation and innovation. Later that same year, the centre was visited by the then-Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, during their Royal Tour of Canada.

During this period, our position as one of Canada’s largest immigrant-serving organization allowed us to be at the forefront of Canada’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and in 2016 we received over 2,000 Syrian government-sponsored refugees during this period.


Innovation and integrated service delivery

We continued our drive towards innovative programming and pioneering research following the opening of the new Welcome Centre. For example, in 2017, we produced world-class research on Syrian refugee settlement issues.

We were also the only immigrant-serving organization in BC to provide employment services throughout the province with the new Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants program.

2018 – 2022

Facing new challenges together

Today, we continue to be at the forefront of innovative solutions that serve our diverse clients and their needs.

In response to COVID-19, we accelerated work to improve our online operations and services so clients were able to benefit from our services , despite the disruptions created by the global pandemic. These changes included the use of a new robust Client Record Management (CRM) system and the launch of a digital literacy program and curriculum website.

As unprecedented humanitarian crises emerged in Afghanistan and Ukraine in 2021 and 2022 respectively, we took a lead role in supporting those displaced by violence and war through our Afghan Special Initiative and Ukrainian humanitarian assistance campaigns.

In 2021 we also welcomed Jonathan Oldman as our new Chief Executive Officer following the retirement of Patricia Woroch, our long-time CEO who spearheaded the design of the Vancouver Welcome Centre and managed the expansion of ISSofBC.

In 2022 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of ISSofBC’s founding. The occasion provided an opportunity for us to reflect on our achievements and the thousands of newcomers we’ve supported since 1972.

Our Funding Partners

Truth and Reconciliation

Territorial Recognition

We are grateful to live, work, and be connected with the Indigenous communities from across the many traditional and unceded territories, covering all regions of British Columbia. We are honoured to live on this land and are committed to reconciliation, decolonization, and building relationships with communities while increasing the awareness of Indigenous People among newcomers to these lands.

We are proud to have worked with two Indigenous consultants, Kory Wilson and Tami Pierce, to develop and launch our new Truth and Reconciliation Strategy (TRS).

This multi-year strategy make clear, actionable and accountable committments to Truth and Reconciliation and  details how we will it embed it into all our activities, both internally and externally.

As one of Canada’s largest newcomer-serving organizations we have a responsibility to inform newcomers about Indigenous culture and Canada’s full history including the traumas inflicted since contact on the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. We hope our approach will inspire other organizations, both in the private and public sectors, to make similar steps for truly integrating Truth and Reconciliation into its work.


We are very proud and honoured to have received public recognition over the years for helping newcomers build their lives in Canada.


Outstanding Site Award

ISSofBC’s Advanced Literacy and Essential Skills (ALES) in the Workplace was honoured with the ALES Outstanding Site Award for creating opportunities for newcomers to fulfill their career goals while helping employers hire and retain highly skilled and motivated employees.


Top Settlement Agency in Canada

ISSofBC was named the Top Settlement Agency in Canada in 2018 by RBC (Royal Bank) and the Canadian Immigrant magazine. The Top Settlement Agency in Canada award celebrates the contributions, dedication and hard work of agencies in helping immigrants settle and succeed in Canada.


2017 Premier’s Innovation and Excellence Award

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


AMSSA Riasat Ali Khan Diversity Award

ISSofBC Welcome Centre was selected by AMSSA (Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC) to receive the Riasat Ali Khan Diversity Award. The award recognizes an AMSSA member organization for innovative programming that supports diversity and promotes integration.


Coquitlam Crunch Diversity Grant

The grant was awarded to ISSofBC for the support of diversity initiatives that promote inclusion in the Tri-cities area. Grant funds are raised by fitness enthusiasts participating in the workout trail of the Coquitlam Crunch.


2017 YWCA Women of Distinction Award

Patricia Woroch, the former CEO of ISSofBC, received the 2017 YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the Non-Profit category for propelling change through her leadership within the non-profit sector and for making a significant difference in Metro Vancouver.


City of Vancouver Mayor’s Achievement Award

ISSofBC received the Mayor’s Achievement Award for the remarkable dedication to improving the quality of life for the citizens of Vancouver.


International Talent Acquisition Centre (In-TAC) Strategic Partner Award

ISSofBC was recognized for the successful partnership with In-TAC for making a positive contribution to the employment and integration of internationally educated professionals across Canada.


Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) Leadership Recognition Award

ISSofBC received the Immigrant Serving Organization Leadership award as a founding service provider and the first to connect clients with IEC-BC’s mentoring program called MentorConnect.


Best Workplaces Canada

ISSofBC was recognized as one of 2014’s Best Workplaces in Canada, joining 49 other companies nationwide that made it to the list in the medium company size category.

This was ISSofBC’s seventh such award, and the fifth in a row since 2010. The first two awards were received in 2007 and 2009.


Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s IQN Award

Mentorship in Action, a national internship project ISSofBC is involved in as the Vancouver delivery partner, received Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) prestigious IQN Award in the Workplace Integration category.


Quality and professionalism are very important to us. ISSofBC and its Language & Career College (LCC) belong to a number of regulatory bodies establishing the highest standards of quality programming, education and business practices for our clients and students.

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