Submitted by Kate Longpre, Community Integration Coordinator
Google Translate and the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) have partnered to launch the first of its kind initiative utilizing the Google Translate App for refugee resettlement and new immigrant inclusion in the Capital Region.
The We Speak Translate project will engage community stakeholders, businesses, community agencies, institutions, and the public sector in Google Translate training. Upon completion of the 40-minute training, community stakeholders and partners will receive a We Speak Translate decal, a visible symbol of inclusion and Victoria’s commitment to promoting diversity and communication across language barriers. Google Translate training will also be provided to newcomer immigrants and refugees through ICA English language classes and other avenues. Familiarity with the Google Translate App will help to establish a common platform for communication while English language skills develop.
Google is humbled and excited to be supporting this project with the goal of helping New Canadians make the often challenging transition to life in Canada through language and engagement.
– Google Spokesperson
Participation in the We Speak Translate project is an effective initiative and a symbol that stakeholders and institutions in the Greater Victoria region are welcoming and inclusive of newcomers, value diversity, and are willing to work across language barriers to build community. Further, the project provides an opportunity to build awareness of issues faced by newcomers, and addresses the importance of integration and inclusion. The project is a tangible, low or no-cost initiative that improves cross cultural communication and integration of newcomers.
This is a promising way of bridging the communication gap. It will be helpful to new immigrants, services providers and local businesses.
– Jean McRae, CEO, Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria
Over the last year, the Greater Victoria area has resettled approximately 415 Arabic-speaking Syrian refugees. ICA anticipates that a total of 500 Syrian refugees will have been resettled in the region by the end of 2017.
In the 2011 National Household Survey, 18% of people in the Capital Regional District (CRD) were immigrants (Statistics Canada, 2011). With over 1400 immigrants and refugees coming to the region annually (Victoria Foundation, 2013), the community has a vested interest in promoting diversity and inclusiveness.
Ninety-five percent of these newly arrived refugees speak a low level of English equivalent to the Canadian Language Benchmark of literacy, or LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) Level 1. On a weekly basis, ICA’s English language classes support over 450 newcomers, and projects such as We Speak Translate will help to alleviate some of the challenges newcomers face while English language skills develop.
As Victoria’s leading immigrant and refugee-serving organization, ICA proactively explores innovative solutions to better support the inclusion of newcomers in the Greater Victoria community. Since 1971, ICA has provided settlement support and services to over 60,000 newcomers. Annually, ICA serves over 2500 newcomers through one-on-one support and in group settings on topics including settling in the CRD and Canada, employment, English language services, arts programming, and specialized groups for youth, women, men, and seniors.
The Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria is the lead agency for the Community Partnership Network (CPN). ICA provides diversity education and resources for the broader community and works with over 200 businesses and organizations with the aim to build diverse, welcoming and inclusive communities in Greater Victoria. The CPN membership will be the first in the region to receive the We Speak Translate training from a Google Translate representative on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at the Delta Ocean Pointe Hotel. Subsequent training will be available through ICA.
If you would like more information about the We Speak Translate project, please contact Kate Longpre, Community Integration Coordinator, at 250-388-4728 ext. 167 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.