ISSofBC Welcome Centre couldn’t have asked for a better neighbour when it set up shop on Victoria Drive in Vancouver over four years ago. Through regular acts of thoughtful support, the next-door First Christian Reformed Church Vancouver continues to epitomize the spirit of Creating Home Together, the theme of this year’s international Welcoming Week celebration.

Through an amazing partnership with the Muslim Food Bank & Community Services Society, the First Christian Reformed Church Vancouver has been providing welcome baskets to newcomer refugees during their temporary stay at the Welcome Centre since the Syrian refugee crisis in late 2015.

The baskets contain start-up supplies, including meat, dairy and personal hygiene products. Every basket is customized to meet the needs of the recipient families, including Halal food for Muslim clients.

“It’s such a lovely partnership between the church and the Muslim Food Bank,” says Sanja Sladojevic, manager of ISSofBC’s Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) which serves Government-Assisted Refugees. “The clients appreciate the welcome baskets because these help with their budgeting,” adds Lourdes Hisola, RAP Welcome Centre coordinator.

Welcoming Week is an opportunity for ISSofBC to thank the First Christian Reformed Church Vancouver and the Muslim Food Bank for the help they provide through the welcome baskets, year in year out. What a thoughtful way for newcomer refugees to start their new lives in Canada!

Welcoming Week is an annual celebration bringing together people in local communities to build unity and a sense of belonging for new and long-time residents.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Welcoming Week looks different this year, with many communities opting to host virtual events. Organizations and communities are encouraged to share their stories of inclusion and welcoming on social media using the hashtags #CreatingHomeTogether and #WelcomeWeek.

Canada is now an official member of Welcoming International through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the #immigrationmatters campaign.

To see a full list of events around the world, visit welcomingweek.org.