Friday, March 6, 2015

Community News

The Immigrant Experience 

Open Forum at Chilliwack Cultural Centre March 18 

By Shirley Trimestra, CCS


uilding on research conducted in 2014, Chilliwack Community Services has just completed a second phase of research through its Chilliwack Newcomer Connections program.


The results will be profiled later this month at a public forum at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. The research explores some of the key challenges and opportunities experienced by immigrants and refugees as they access various community services. This new research, and the research conducted last year, was undertaken by Martha Dow, Associate Professor from the University of the Fraser Valley.

“This combined research is going to be invaluable,” says Program Director April Neave. “With current and local data, we will have the information needed, from both service providers and immigrants themselves, to begin to implement an immigrant settlement strategy tailor made for Chilliwack.”

The agency has been working towards this goal for the past two years. At that time it began taking a close look at services available to immigrants with a view to determining how welcoming the community is and how effectively newcomers are being served. Interviews were conducted with a variety of organizations to explore key needs of newcomers, the type of community services available as well as service gaps and opportunities. The results lead to a report released last year Welcoming Communities Program Community Partnership: Framing Welcoming Within a Local Context.

The new research conducted this year will be released as a report following the forum. It will lead to recommendations that Chilliwack Newcomer Connections will put forward as a strategy to assist newcomers settle and integrate successfully.

Ms Neave notes that the Mary Street office of Chilliwack Community Services is a busy hub of services for new immigrants. “The service in greatest demand is English instruction,” she says. “But so are the life skill orientation sessions and the employment, computer and citizenship workshops.”

Newcomers are looking to gain the skills they need to learn how to navigate the community, get jobs and become contributing citizens. “This research will help the community coordinate services and make sure services are being delivered effectively.”

Funded by the Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the vision of Chilliwack Newcomer Connections is “to create awareness of services for newcomers in Chilliwack and build connections and relationships across the community.” It is a 20 member group made up of representatives from the City of Chilliwack, School District #33, YMCA, RCMP, faith community and private and public sectors.

Rather than providing direct services to individuals, the intent of the group’s efforts is to foster systemic changes so that there is improved access to local services, knowledge sharing and local strategic planning.

The Chilliwack Newcomer Connections public forum takes place 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday March 18 2015 in the Odlum Brown Studios at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. Besides presentation of the research results, the schedule includes an immigrant panel presentation and a round table discussion on a community based strategy to support successful immigrant settlement in Chilliwack.

Registration is required as space is limited. To register email here.

Chilliwack Newcomer Connections is one of the more than forty programs offered by Chilliwack Community Services. The agency is an independent local charitable organization with offices downtown and in Sardis. Since 1928 it has provided caring community services to create opportunities with people to make positive change in their lives.


Learn more about Chilliwack Community Services Immigration Programs here.




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