ICA Volunteers: You Make Up 4.5 Full Time Staff!
Submitted by Liz Bean, Coordinator of Volunteer Services
We are fortunate to have amazing, talented and supportive volunteers! Each year, over 180 community members give their time, energy, experience, expertise, and support helping immigrants to settle and thrive in Canada.
This fall, ICA volunteers are assisting with several programs and services, including year-round Employment services and Career Mentoring, English language classes, Conversation Circles, One-on-One matching with immigrants, Youth Services, and more.
The feedback we’ve received indicates that ICA is a great place to volunteer. We asked volunteers to rate their experience at ICA by using anonymous surveys, and year after year, the results have been extremely positive. This year, over 98% of ICA volunteers indicate they feel appreciated in their role.
Here’s what some of them had to say:
“I am touched by ICA’s appreciation of its volunteers. The appreciation events were amazing.”
“A delightful opportunity to share, learn and build community in a respectful and caring way.”
“Staff are an appreciative, kind, supportive group.”
“My shift at the ICA is a highlight of my week!”
“It has been fantastic. I look forward to my volunteer shift every week and love the ICA environment!”
“It has always been very pleasantly fulfilling and life affirming.”
This September, ICA English language classes welcomes 50 new and returning Teacher’s Assistants who provide tremendous support to teachers and students throughout the year. Our incredible youth services volunteers will assist as tutors in our afterschool Homework Club, and mentors in our Social Meet-up and Employment training programs. And, a wonderful group of volunteers who love to chat, will visit once a week to lead conversation circles in our English language classes. There are many other programs where volunteers make that extra difference to newcomers as they integrate into the community.
Thank you ICA Volunteers. We couldn’t do it without YOU!
If you are interested in volunteering or would like more information please visit our volunteer page.
Jason Jones Creates Space For Diversity
Saanich Parks and Recreation and Jason Jones: Champions of Diversity!
We would like to congratulate Jason Jones, Youth Program Manager at Saanich Parks and Recreation, on being named as the recipient of the Rhiasat Ali Khan Service Recognition award. Each year the Rhiasat Ali Khan award, given by the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies (AMSSA), recognizes individuals and organizations for their innovative contributions to diversity and inclusion in BC.
As a dynamic and committed volunteer at ICA, Jason Jones helped grow the Community Partnership Network (CPN) as a member of the CPN Advisory Council. Jason also brought diversity and sensitivity training to Saanich Parks and Recreation staff to ensure services are offered in a culturally sensitive manner. Jason has promoted the development of innovative and diverse programs that include the annual Moon Lantern Festival, Speak Well English Conversation classes for newcomers, and producing a Multi-Lingual Program guide, among others.
Jason quote: “It is an honour to receive the Rhiasat Ali Khan award. I have to thank Saanich Parks and Recreation management who see the value to our community in the work being done to reach out to diverse community members and for their constant support for diversity initiatives. They have shown great leadership and dedication to ensure our municipality is a welcoming and inclusive place to live, work and play.”
Throughout his association with ICA, Jason has eagerly taken a lead role in connecting Saanich Parks and Recreation in ways that enhance community building, promote diversity and provide inclusive programs and services. We give thanks to Jason for his dedication to diversity and building welcoming communities in Saanich and the Greater Victoria region.
Elder Knowledge “A Barrel Of Laughs”
Submitted by Paulina Grainger, Arts and Outreach Coordinator
Who would have thought gardening could be so much fun? With this group of newcomer senior participants, it’s been a barrel of laughs. Together they’ve shared various traditions of growing food around the world – cultural knowledge they’re been trying to incorporate in their own small gardens here in Victoria, with varying success. Two organizations, Compost Education Centre and LifeCycles Project have partnered with ICA to help the seniors expand their local knowledge in growing wholesome food close to home. They have facilitated a number of interesting and information-packed workshops, including; composting basics, soil stewardship, rain harvesting, how to attract pollinators, ecological gardening techniques, and how to produce food in your own backyard. The seniors have also gone fruit tree harvesting in the Greater Victoria area and have taken a native plant field trip to Pepaken Hautw in Brentwood Bay.
The next workshop the group is looking forward to is on how to can and preserve food on October 27. It’s not too late to join us!
This project is funded by the Victoria Foundation & TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. For more information, please contact Paulina Grainger, Arts & Outreach Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Survey Says…..Results From ICA’s Language Program
Submitted by Todd Kitzler, Head Language Instructor
In June of this year the Languages Services Department at ICA conducted its most recent round of learner outcome surveys to collect feedback from our students on how we are doing in terms of service delivery in the LINC program. 98% of students surveyed said their class helped them improve their English, become more familiar with Canadian culture, customs and family life, and helped them meet people and make new friends.
One student said, “The content this course is very good. I like this English classes because they help me improve my English every day.” An intermediate level student reported, “Thanks to ICA I am able to communicate with other people, and have a job that I can communicate.” “Another added, “My English Class at ICA was a great experience of learning language, culture, and Canadian values.”
89% of LINC students surveyed indicated that the class helped them learn about our community by introducing them to Canadian systems and services as well as facilities in the community. “Very satisfied with the class and learn a lot about Canada and how to live in community,” as one learner stated. Another response was, “This class taught me to be independent on how to do things like shopping, make a call etc.”
We received a lot of positive feedback, and we were also happy to receive constructive criticism too. There is always room for improvement and we will use the views and ideas of our learners to make our LINC program better. Many thanks to all the volunteers that support ICA’s teachers and language students.
ICA’s Board President Reflects On The Past Year
Submitted by Cathy Hunter, ICA Board President
The Board of Directors of the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria hosted ICA’s 35th Annual General Meeting on August 15, 2015. The business part of the meeting included reports from the President, Executive Director and Auditor, Barry Obara of Obara & Company. We are pleased to conclude a challenging year at ICA with strong, responsive programming and with a healthy financial position that enables us to move ahead in the year before us.
Confirming program detail and funding expectations while transitioning from the Province to the Federal government as our primary funding partner required extra effort from the management team this past year. I applaud not only the management team but also all our wonderful staff for their professionalism and seamless delivery of service to support our clients through times of uncertainty and adjustment.
The Board honoured two retiring, long serving Board members at the AGM: Mavis di Girolamo and Thomas Ahn. Both Mavis and Thomas served ICA for many years as Board Directors, as Board Committee members, and as volunteers at the program level. Mavis, in particular, was honoured as an inspiring Past President. A very popular volunteer, she is recognized for her untiring work assisting so many with citizenship preparation and leadership role in special Citizenship Ceremonies. Thankfully, ICA and our clients will continue to benefit from her ongoing commitment in both these areas. Many thanks for your input Thomas and Mavis, you will be missed at the Board level.
I am pleased to be re-elected as Board President for the coming year. Thank you for your confidence in me. I will endeavour to provide leadership to the Board in carrying out its governance duties and responsibilities effectively and efficiently. The Board operates as an oversight body for the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, under the auspices of the Society Act of the Province of British Columbia, and per ICA’s Constitution and Bylaws. Elected as Directors are: continuing – Bill Fosdick, Roxanne Helme and Linda Lee; re-elected for another 2 year term – Jose Albis, Dean Duthie, Rebecca Mersereau, and Peter Yeung; re-elected, fulfilling the Youth on Board’s Project position – Patricia Pearcon; and, newly elected – Sukumar Periwal.
Challenges for the coming year include interpreting our new role as Sponsorship Agreement Holders with Ottawa. Clearly ICA’s excellent reputation has been recognized as we are now entrusted partners in welcoming refugees fleeing extremely difficult circumstance and assisting them in their process of settlement and adaption to Canada.
Finally, I am very grateful for the contributions and donations of our generous supporters. It is through your volunteer services and donations that we are able to respond to new opportunities and to build networks and enhance projects that create a welcoming community here in Greater Victoria. Thank you!
ICA Is Now Able To Assist With Refugee Resettlement Into Victoria As A Sponsorship Agreement Holder
In August 2015, the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) received approval from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to become a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH). This is a framework agreement with the Canadian government to support refugees to resettle in Canada through Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. We are the second group in Greater Victoria that holds an agreement with CIC to privately sponsor refugees as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder, along with the Anglican Diocese of BC.
Under the agreement, we will work with Constituent Groups in sponsoring refugees. As done in the past, we will continue to assist community sponsoring organizations or Groups of Five – five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents who get together to sponsor a refugee or refugees. Sponsoring groups assist with financial obligations, as well as the reception, housing, and care of the refugee newcomers when they arrive to the region. Refugee cases can either be identified by the Canadian government for a blended financial sponsorship model, or family members or friends residing in Victoria can identify refugees abroad for resettlement. There is high interest among the public in sponsoring Syrian refugees; however, there are currently not any government-referred cases available for sponsorship. Syrians in Victoria who would like to sponsor family members who have fled the conflict in Syria are encouraged to contact us at ICA to explore sponsorship options.
If you are curious about working with a SAH such as ICA to help sponsor a refugee or refugee family, here are some helpful tips:
• Form a Constituent Group to determine how many people will be involved in sponsoring the refugee and ensure you have a plan on how to raise funds for resettlement assistance – funding and other support obligations are required for 1 year
• Contact ICA as one of your local SAHs and meet with our Immigrant Services Manager in order to be authorized as a Constituent Group
• Determine whom you want to sponsor – do you know a family member or friend of refugees abroad who is interested in working with your group? If not, are you interested in sponsoring someone on the list of visa office-referred cases?• Once authorized, work with us to start the application process to resettle a refugee or refugees to the Greater Victoria area
For additional information about how to get involved, please contact:
250-388-4728 ext. 146
Let’s Celebrate! Vanessa Rose And Gagan Leekha Are This Year’s Recipients Of Our Diversity Scholarship Award!
We want to thank all of the 2015 Diversity Scholarship applicants. All applicants already engage in such meaningful work within our community, and ICA is honored to have gotten the opportunity to learn from and about this year’s participants.
Vanessa was born in Chile with ancestry to the Aymara Aboriginal people in South America. Her family came to Canada as a refugee when she was a young child. Vanessa is currently in her third year of the Bachelor of Social Work Program at the University of Victoria. She is also a Health Support Worker at The Victoria Native Friendship Centre that serves the Urban Aboriginal population in Victoria, where she is focusing on narrowing the health disparities currently facing Aboriginal peoples.
Growing up with parents who spoke no English, Vanessa experienced and witnessed the many challenges of being displaced from homeland and the vulnerability faced by individuals when navigating the medical system. This has led her to become a passionate advocate for people in the area of Health Care. Upon completion of her degree, she aspires to continue working in the Health Care field, supporting people of all cultures and backgrounds by ensuring they acquire the health supports they need in a respectful and culturally sensitive manner.
“Thank you to ICA board for this wonderful scholarship. I really enjoyed the process of applying because it caused me to reflect on why I do the work I do. I was reminded of all the amazing people that I have worked alongside on issues related to equity, inclusion, social justice, and creating a more welcoming community. I am grateful for the learning and growth that I’ve been a part of in community and on the traditional territory of the Coast and Straight Salish people, and I look forward to the good work ahead. Thank you!”
Gagan is an MA candidate in the School of Leadership Studies and Royal Roads University. She has over 15 years of community development experience work with organizations such as Sierra Club BC, Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre, Victoria Sexual Assault Centre, and Victoria Coalition for Survivors of Torture. Gagan values inclusion, community-building, and working across differences to create lasting, systemic change. She is currently working as Community Liaison with BC Healthy Communities.
“We All Want Happiness And We Try To Make It…”
Submitted by Claire Kelly, Settlement Youth Worker
We sat down with some of the youth and leaders who attended our summer programs to get a bit of feedback. Here’s what they had to say…
• We all want happiness and we try to make it
• My highlight for the year
• The group were a very good team work, friendly and understand each other
• This group is super awesome and energetic
• A gathering of different youth from many backgrounds
• I had a lot of fun all thanks to Summer Remix members and participants
• As I hope, I really make new friends and our leaders were also very nice and friendly
What did you learn?
• The skill to be a leader of the youth
• Canada is filled with different cultures
• To play tennis
• To make good friends
• Make new friends and be cooperative
From the leaders…
• It was really kind of the facilitators for understanding us and helping us for everything they can. Thank you!!
• The facilitators were great. They’re so kind and funny
• The facilitators were truly nice. They were friendly and helpful, etc…
• All the leaders were very fun and well prepared!
We would like to once again thank our donors, it’s thanks to YOU that we are able to offer the services we do!
42 Riders And Counting For ICA’s Ride For Refuge
Submitted by Meghan Mergaert, Development Manager
With only three days left before Ride for Refuge you have helped us surpass our goal and put ICA into second place in Victoria. With your generous donations, we have raised over $6,700. 42 enthusiastic riders and walkers are joining the cause. ICA, along with 16 other community organizations, are riding and walking together in this family-friendly bike-a-thon to support people who are displaced, vulnerable and exploited – and we couldn’t do it without you!
Want to help but not sure how? The youth team, ICA Wheels of Thunder, still have a few youth that need to reach their fundraising goal of $75 each. Donate now to help a young newcomer participate in this fun, active community event this Saturday.
Also, there is still time to grease up your chain or dust off your walking shoes and join ICA clients, volunteers, CPN members, staff and board members on Saturday morning.
Join one of our teams here. We are looking forward to seeing all the riders and walkers on Saturday morning.
P.S. Late registrations are welcome. We will meet at 8:30 am in front of Royal Oak Middle School for a group photo.
Contact Meghan Mergaert, Development Manager at email@example.com or 250-388-4728 ext. 143 for more information.