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Refugee claims up by 76 percent but drop in GAR arrivals in 2017

The number of individuals arriving in BC who are applying for refugee status in 2017 is 76% more than in the year before, and over 90% came by walking across the US border at the Peace Arch Park.

These were among statistics published in the Welcome Centre Refugee Claimants Statistical Highlights report released yesterday.

Over 1,200 refugee claimants were recorded last year compared to 725 in 2016; most of the 2017 arrivals were from Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, Iran and Colombia.

However, the number of Government-Assisted Refugees (GAR) that arrived in BC last year – 642 – was a third of the 1,911 that arrived in 2016.

But numbers are expected to increase over the next three years from 900 to 1,200 beginning in 2018, with the African continent likely to be a major source of GAR arrivals to BC.

These were among statistics published in the GAR Bulletin released today.

While GARs from Syria continued to dominate arrivals in 2017, there was a shift compared to 2016, with Eritrea replacing Afghanistan among the top five source countries. Joining Eritrea among countries on the African continent expected to generate GARs to BC in the months ahead are Somalia, Congo and Rwanda.

View more statistics and trends in our reports and publications.

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Recognition party celebrates dedication of ISSofBC volunteers


Vancouver and Richmond volunteers, staff and board members came together for an evening celebration to honour the hard work, commitment and incredible contribution that volunteers make to ISSofBC.

The recognition party, held at ISSofBC Welcome Centre January 18, included networking activities, recognition speeches, live music and East African cuisine.

“It was wonderful to see so many volunteers from different ISSofBC projects and programs join us to share stories and meet other volunteers, as well as staff and board members who may have not had a chance to meet our volunteers before,” said Volunteer and Community Connections Worker Elmir Ismayilov.

In 2017, over 500 volunteers in Vancouver and Richmond supported ISSofBC in numerous positions including interpreters, field trip coordinators, classroom assistants and more.

The Volunteer and Community Connections teams in Vancouver and Richmond would like to thank everyone who joined the celebration, volunteer staff members who helped with the party, and the amazing volunteers for their ongoing hard work that makes such a difference in newcomers’ lives.

Other ISSofBC locations across Metro Vancouver will also celebrate the commitment and enthusiasm of volunteers with special events including in New Westminster Saturday, February 17.

Learn more about volunteering at ISSofBC.

View photos from the event.

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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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