2017: What’s ahead
While the building of Welcome Centre marked a significant milestone and achievement for ISSofBC, the facility’s fully-integrated service delivery model heralds a future where services for newcomers can reach the ideal standards of accessibility and responsiveness.
ISSofBC is committed to leading with pioneering research and innovative programming. In 2017 alone, we provided world-class research on Syrian refugee settlement issues. We were the only immigrant-serving organization in BC to provide employment services throughout the province with the new Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants program.
2014 – 2016: Welcome Centre Years
In 2014, ISSofBC Welcome Centre’s ground-breaking ceremony marked the beginning of the final stages of a three decade-long planning and development process for a world-class, innovative service hub for newcomers.
In June 2016, Welcome Centre opened its doors to newcomers and the community. Three months later, the centre was on the itinerary of the Royal Tour of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to BC. This much-publicized visit easily stood out among a steady stream of visits by individuals and groups from across Canada and other parts of the world keen to learn about how Welcome Centre contributes to Canada’s much-admired approach to resettling newcomers.
It was also during these years that ISSofBC once again was at the forefront of Canada’s response to a global humanitarian crisis. ISSofBC took a lead role in the largest refugee resettlement plan of this generation in BC, receiving over 2,000 Syrian government-sponsored refugees.
2001-2013: Period of Extraordinary Expansion
Between these years, ISSofBC responded to changing demographics and moved programming outside of the City of Vancouver, locating various programs in Richmond, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey, Maple Ridge, Langley and Squamish.
Part of this expansion included new programs and initiatives such as higher-level language classes, mentoring programs, a trauma information and support program for refugees, accreditations from Languages Canada and the BC Private Post Secondary Education Act, and working involvement in more WorkBC Employment Centres than any other organization in BC.
Towards the end of this period in 2012, ISSofBC celebrated 40 years of supporting newcomers to Canada. The anniversary event featured a bold multimedia exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver.
1980 – 2000: Decades of Expertise Development
During these two decades, ISSofBC developed, initiated and delivered a large number of programs of which many continue today. These include occupational skills training programs, the refugee-volunteer matching “HOST” program, temporary accommodation for government-sponsored refugees (Welcome House) at the ISSofBC-owned and operated Drake Street facility, ESL training programs, Bridge Community Health Clinic for refugees, ISS Language and Career College (LCC) of BC, and Resettlement Assistance Program for refugees.
This was also the period when ISSofBC developed and refined administrative, human resource and financial systems and procedures that were exemplary in the not-for-profit sector. Funders routinely looked to ISSofBC staff to serve as resource persons in the training of new project officers.
1968 – 1979: The Early Years
Even before incorporation in 1972 as the first immigrant-serving agency in BC, local volunteers including Vancouver East MP Harold Winch and Eleanor Strong (later to become the organization’s first Executive Director) responded to the crisis in East Africa by resettling 800 Ismaili refugees fleeing Uganda’s Idi Amin.
Recognizing the need for more services, the early ISSofBC implemented settlement services and language classes. At the end of this period, ISSofBC responded to the plight of the Vietnamese Boat People.