November 2016

Community Stakeholder Forum Report

ISSofBC hosted for the first-time ever a consultation with former refugee youth (15-24 years old) in their first year in Canada to discuss their thoughts, hopes, aspirations and feedback on the programs and services they’ve accessed since their arrival to Canada.

The second part of this project brought together representatives from private and public institutions in a Community Stakeholder Forum to share recommendations directly from the youth. Participants at the Community Stakeholder Forum further discussed the needs, potential solutions and best practices in addressing each of the recommendations presented.

We have released the final summary report, which includes the work we did at both the Youth Consultation & Community Forum. Photos, final report, media articles, and the video can all be found on the project website This project was done in partnership with/funded by The Fresh Voices Initiative of Vancouver Foundation.


CP – Cassandra Szklarski – July 24, 2016

Summer Camp Gives Syrian Child Refugees A Crash Course on Canada

H.appi Camper founder Mazen El-Baba says he tried to design a getaway that would offer the staples of any typical North American summer camp: drama, arts and crafts, and sports. But it would also offer much-needed lessons tailored to the specific needs of young Syrian refugees: intensive literacy classes, a crash course in Canadian cultural norms, and self-esteem exercises.

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Free Training for Interpreters and Translators in Thompson Okanagan & Kootenays

Translators and Interpreters throughout the Thompson-Okanagan and Kootenay regions are invited to take part in a free, all-day training session on either July 9th in Kamloops or on July 16th in Kelowna.  The sessions will be led by John Tahberer, Manager of Member Services for the Society of Translators and Interpreters of BC (STIBC), and are funded by the Province of BC through the Refugee Readiness Fund (RRF).

 The Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skill Training created the RRF to support the people and organizations working to settle Syrian refugees in communities throughout British Columbia. Refugee Response Teams (RRTs) were established in five areas in the province, including the one in the Thompson-Okanagan and Kootenays.  Representatives from a variety of sectors, including settlement, private sponsor networks, education and health, then developed Action Plans which identified critical areas of support that could be implemented in the specific region.

 “Language support is critical for all of the refugee families as they settle in the region,“ says Katelin Mitchell, Immigrant Services Manager for Kelowna Community Resources and Team Lead for the RRT-Thompson-Okanagan & Kootenays. “The training will meet the immediate need of supporting the very welcoming community members that are helping as interpreters and translators today, and build community capacity over the long term.”

 Through the training, participants will increase their understanding of interpreting methods and approaches, identify the roles, responsibilities and ethical practices for interpreters and develop a system to facilitate translating official documents and learn to access and utilize available resources.  The sessions will be held 8:30 – 4:30 pm at the Kamloops Immigrant Services in Kamloops on July 9 and at Parkinson’s Activity Centre in Kelowna on July 16.

 “Volunteer interpreters assist the families with meetings, medical visits and filling out forms as well as activities like grocery shopping,” continues Mitchell.  “They are lifelines for the families, especially in the beginning.”

 The training sessions are open to all volunteer and paid interpreters and translators, with priority being given to Arabic speakers.  Maximum registration for each session is 50 people.  To register contact: Olivet in Kelowna at [email protected] or 250-763-8008 ext 123, and Shiro in Kamloops at [email protected] or 778-470-6101 ext 102.

PRESS RELEASE: Housing Leads Needed for Refugee Families – February 18, 2016

The North Okanagan Refugee Committee is currently supporting local sponsorship groups to find leads on temporary accommodation and long term housing for potential incoming Refugee Families.

Download the Press Release Here (PDF)

University of Ottawa

Refugee Sponsorship Support Program

Are you a lawyer?
If you’re a lawyer and you want to help by providing pro bono help to sponsorship groups, there are two ways to get involved. Please note that SSP Pro Bono Lawyers may not charge fees for any sponsorship support services offered using SSP resources or benefiting from SSP training. This is a strictly pro bono program.

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Lesley Coates, Communications Officer Interior Health – December 30, 2015

IH prepares for health-care needs of refugees

The New Year marks a new beginning for Syrian refugees arriving in the Interior region.
Refugees will face many challenges as they adjust to new homes, new lives and a new health-care
system. Interior Health and its community partners have been working hard over the past
several weeks to help ease that transition and be prepared to meet the health-care needs of the
new residents, who began arriving in the region earlier this month.

Read More…

UBC Okanagan – December 15, 2015

Okanagan Refugee Community Resources Geolive Map

Created by the Institute of Community Engaged Research at UBC Okanagan in collaboration with Kelowna Community Resources using a program very generously donated by Geolive, this mapping website allows users to share information about household items, employment opportunities, services, housing, and volunteering that might be used by incoming Syrian refugees.

If you want to donate something, register and log in to the map, drag and drop the appropriate marker to the correct location, and fill in the information boxes. You can choose to make the information available to everyone (that is completely public), or only to yourself and coordinators from the various groups sponsoring refugees in the Valley.

Learn More…

CBC News – Sheena Goodyear – December 7, 2015

Refugee crisis a driving force in holiday giving this year

Charities almost always see an uptick in donations during the holiday season. This year, much of that giving spirit is being directed at the global refugee crisis.

About 62 per cent of Canadian adults are expected to donate a total of $5 billion to charity between now and the end of the year, according a Leger poll conducted on behalf of Imagine Canada, an organization that helps support Canadian charities.

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CTV News – Josh Elliott and Sonja Puzic – December 7, 2015

First refugee arrivals planned for Dec. 10: document

The first planes carrying Syrian refugees are expected to arrive in Canada on Dec. 10, according to a government document posted online.

The solicitation document posted on the federal government’s buy-and-sell website is seeking “letters of interest” from Canadian aircarriers that are capable of providing aircraft with a minimum of 200 seats for direct flights to Toronto and Montreal, from  Turkey and Jordan.

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The Globe and Mail – Ian Merringer – November 20, 2015

Toronto school sparks cross-country movement to sponsor refugees

As the new Liberal government works to bring in 25,000 refugees by the year’s end, private sponsorship groups of all kinds have been planning and raising money for months to bring in many thousands more.

Across the country, school communities are proving to be among those well-equipped to carry out the organizational and fundraising work necessary to sponsor future Canadians.

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The Globe and Mail – Globe Staff – November 20, 2015

The Globe’s series chronicling the global refugee and migrant experience

Europe’s borders have been swamped by the arrival of more than three-quarters of a million asylum seekers since January; the European Union says it is expecting as many as three million more by the end of 2016.

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The Globe and Mail – Daniel LeBlanc and Jane Taber – November 18, 2015

RCMP, CSIS support Trudeau’s plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees

The heads of Canada’s police and spy agencies are backing the Trudeau government’s plans to safely screen and bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year.

A number of municipal and provincial politicians have called on the government to take longer to conduct security checks on the asylum seekers, but RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson and CSIS director Michel Coulombe insist the government’s plans are feasible.

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Financial Post – Terence Corcoran – November 17, 2015

Bring more than 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada — but do it over a longer period

The question has dogged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau almost daily since the election and grows more insistent after the Paris terrorist attacks: Given the growing risk, ask the media over and over again, will his government stick to its election promise to admit 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year?

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Global News – Nick Logan – November 16, 2015

Should Canada stop bringing in Syrian refugees because of the Paris attacks? Experts say no.

Nearly 30,000 people (and counting) have put their names to an online petition demanding the Canadian government put the brakes on its plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of this year.

It comes in the wake of the attacks in Paris Friday and reports one of the attackers may have posed as a refugee to get into Europe.

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Canadian Medical Association – Michael Colborne – October 26, 2015

Syrian Refugees’ Mental Health is Top Priority

Doctors in a handful of clinics across Canada are preparing for the arrival of many thousands of refugees fleeing the war in Syria. So far only a few have arrived, but more are expected as part of the new government’s commitment to settle 25 000 Syrian refugees through 2016. “The most significant part of our practice is dealing with mental health issues,”…

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Castanet – Darren Handschuh – November 12, 2015

Church to Sponsor Refugees

A Vernon church is on a rescue mission.
Trinity United Church wants to bring a refugee family out of the horrors of war to the safety of the Okanagan.
The congregation recently decided to sponsor a family after networking with existing social agencies and local residents.

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CBC News – Thomas Daigle – November 12, 2015

Getting Ready For Refugees

Video on CBC NEWS

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 The Globe and Mail – Stephanie Levitz – November 03, 2015

Liberals’ plan to resettle Syrian refugees puts existing program in flux

A customary blackout on flights to Canada for refugees after Dec. 15 has been lifted this year as immigration officials toil to get through thousands of Syrian refugee case files while also preparing for ambitious new Liberal resettlement efforts.

But officials can’t say whether they’ll be able to make good on their plan to get through the existing inventory of refugee files before the end of 2015.

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Now Toronto – Mira Sucharov – November 2, 2015

Canadians Answer Call To Help Syrian Refugees

Groups across the country come together to resettle Syrian families in a phenomenon the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Vietnamese crisis of the late 1970s.

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