ISSofBC builds Welcoming Communities

From Maple Ridge to Vancouver, ISSofBC has partnered with numerous Lower Mainland cities to build welcoming communities for newcomers to help support the integration of immigrants.

The focus of the Welcoming Communities Program (WCP), funded by the BC provincial government, is to raise awareness, enhance intercultural relations and reduce systemic barriers to inclusion.

ISSofBC is involved in WCPs in Maple Ridge, Langley, Tri-Cities, Surrey, New Westminster, Burnaby and Vancouver. Community members, employers, institutions and other immigrant serving organizations collaborate under WCP on a number of projects from hosting community dialogues to creating a refugee myth busting campaign.

Caroline Dailly, ISSofBC Manager of the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) is coordinating the Refugee Myth Busting Campaign for the Surrey Welcoming Communities Project (SWCP).

“Mothers tell us how their kids are being called ‘just refugees’ at school and we all hear about so called ‘bogus refugees’ in the news. Myth and misconceptions about refugees are quite stubborn, that is why the Surrey Welcoming Community Committee decided to launch a whole campaign to start busting them,” Caroline said.

The initiative includes printed material, events, focus groups and training sessions.

“There are 20 plus training sessions involving the Surrey School District and post secondary staff on the refugee experience. Most sessions will be refugee youth led. Some of these training sessions will be delivered in partnership with the Expressive Art Therapist training program at Langara,” she said.

SWCP also publishes a quarterly newsletter highlighting the myth busting campaign and refugee experience in Surrey.

In addition to Caroline’s work with SWCP, a number of other ISSofBC staff are involved in WCPs including Eysa Alverez in Maple Ridge/ Pitt Meadows, Bob Gabriel in Langley, Firouzeh Peyvandi in Tri-Cities, Andrea Solnes in New Westminster, Chris Friesen in Burnaby and Kathy Sherrell and Patricia Woroch in Vancouver.

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