Submitted by Steven Baileys, Community Development Coordinator
With open minds and a generosity of ideas filling the community room at the Central branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library, more than 30 immigrants shared their perspectives on how to make our region a more welcoming place. The event was part of a focus group organized by Here! Magazine- a longtime member of the Community Partnership Network (CPN) – in collaboration with ICA and researchers from UVic Office for Community University Engagement (CUE).
In a series of lively round table discussions, immigrants from China, South Korea, Croatia, Venezuela, Mexico, Kenya, Ukraine and other countries, shared ideas on what vital information and programs are needed to better assist newcomers with their settlement in Greater Victoria. Here! Magazine gathered perspectives to shape the future content of its newcomer magazine and to ensure newcomers have the opportunity to see themselves and their experiences reflected in the media. In addition, knowledge gathered from the session will contribute to the creation of a local immigration strategy (Local Immigration Partnership) for the region.
Fiona Bramble, founding editor of Here! Magazine, spoke about the value of the session: “The focus group created a unique opportunity for newcomers and community members to come together for a meaningful exchange. Newcomers were able share their stories and settlement struggles with the wider community and together we identified some unique newcomer needs and gaps in services and resources. Every opportunity to bring stakeholders together to share and gather information helps inform and strengthen the work of the Here! Team, the CPN, and the LIP.”
Here! Magazine is an example of a CPN member who, along with Greater Victoria Public Library, Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, and CUE, is dedicated to promoting welcoming and inclusive communities.