ISSofBC Maple Ridge clients are now Library Champions thanks to a unique program that helps new immigrants to Canada find their way by connecting them to their local public libraries.

The three-month Library Champions Project (LCP), between the Maple Ridge Public Library and NewToBC, focuses on building communication, presentation and outreach skills on the range of programs, services and resources available in libraries and out in the community.

This year was the first cohort of LCP in Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows and all participants are clients of various ISSofBC Maple Ridge programs.

“I think that shows ISSofBC plays an important role in connecting Maple Ridge newcomers to community services and opportunities to engage in a meaningful way,” said Kim Abram, ISSofBC Job Quest Career Facilitator in Maple Ridge.

After the training, Library Champions develop an outreach plan sharing information with friends, family, colleagues and individual community members.

This not only helps the library, but gives the Champions a reason to make community connections and help others.

“When I see a person, I don’t know what to discuss with them. Now I know many library activities. So I can start talking with them about the library activities,” said Library Champion Mahbub Morshed in an interview with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.

The Library Champions in Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows consisted of 13 men and women from 10 different countries including Bangladesh, China, Poland, Romania, Iran, Armenia, Iraq, Ukraine, India and Syria.

More than 50 libraries across Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley are a part of LCP. The project is also supported by numerous immigrant serving organizations and community agencies which assist with project promotion and referrals.

As of March 2018, 1,137 new immigrants to Canada have been trained as Library Champions and these individuals have reached out to more than 70,000 other new immigrants.

To become a Library Champion, newcomers must be permanent residents of Canada, but not yet a Canadian citizen, 19 or older, enthusiastic about libraries and interested in volunteering in the community.

Interested? Connect to staff at ISSofBC or join an information session this fall. Applications are available online.