2017 Progress Report

In May 2015, BVIP completed the Bow Valley’s first Integration Strategy: a 3 year plan to meet our most pressing integration challenges based on based on research and community consultation with over 600 foreign-born and Canadian-born locals. 

Since then, our members have been working hard to make change in 6 priority areas. Here are some highlights of what we achieved in 2016/2017:

Education & Language Learning 

  • Completed study of adult learning needs to improve adult education programming. Watch for the report in April. (Bow Valley Learning Council, Bow Valley College)
  • Pre-beginner adult English language programs created (Bow Valley Learning Council, Bow Valley College)
  • Launched new summer English language and physical literacy program, serving 40 local kids. Secured funding for 2017 program. (Settlement Services in the Bow Valley, Canadian Rockies Public Schools)
  • Created Connect to Language brochure, which compiles information about adult English language programs all in one place. (Community Connections in the Bow Valley)

Employment

  • Awarded Alberta Human Rights Education & Multiculturalism Fund Community Inclusion grant for our Workplace Inclusion Charter (Alberta Human Rights Commission)
  • Piloted Workplace Inclusion Charter (Clique Hotels, Rimrock Resort Hotel)

Social Integration

  • New program created to connect newcomers to long term residents:
    Community Connections in the Bow Valley
  • Held #MeetTheLocals storytelling events in Banff & Canmore (Bow Valley Literacy Program). Learn more at www.meetthelocals.ca    
  • Supported collaborative planning & funding applications for Canada 150th events on themes of inclusion and belonging (Banff Canmore Community Foundation, MD Bighorn, ArtsPlace, Town of Canmore & more)
  • Created How to be Welcoming poster & multilingual welcome decal
    (Available for download in April)
  • Developed photo bank for our partners to reflect the diversity of our community in communications materials

Civic & Political Participation

  • Immigrant Advisory Group 2014-2016 members nominated for Mayor’s Awards of Excellence.
  • Immigrant Advisory Group chair honoured as Hospitality Hero (Banff Lake Louise Hospitality Association).
  • Volunteers: Accessing Underrepresented Groups Workshop (Town of Canmore)

Housing

  • Immigrant Advisory Group participated in Livable Canmore consultation (Town of Canmore)
  • Immigrant Advisory Group held Q&A with Banff Housing Sustainability Coordinator
    (Town of Banff)
  • Coordinator participated in Smith Creek & Three Sisters Resort Area public consultation

Emerging Needs

  • Convened ad-hoc stakeholder meetings on substance use issues including culturally appropriate care
  • Launched new health working group (Addictions & Mental Health, Primary Care Network, Alberta Health Services, & more)

Organizational Strength 

An additional priority is ensuring BVIP is an effective organization. This year we:

  • Secured funding to 2020
  • Welcomed new representatives from Parks Canada & the Primary Care Network
  • Recruited for the 2017 Immigrant Advisory Group & appointed new members
  • Collaborated with inclusion leaders across Canada through an online community of practice we created and at regional and national learning events, 5 of which we presented at

What's Next?

2017 is an exciting year for BVIP as we wrap up our current strategy and plan for the next 3 years. We’ve got some big projects planned, but we also want your input to decide what we work on next. 

You can help by:

Bow Valley Syrian Refuge Response - Update #2

Photo: Refugee children from Syria at a clinic in Ramtha, northern Jordan Credit: Russell Watkins/Department for International Development.  Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons -https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: Syria_1,_Emergencies_6)_(9362333059).jpg#/media/File:(Syria_1,_Emergencies_6)_(9362333059).jpg

Photo: Refugee children from Syria at a clinic in Ramtha, northern Jordan
Credit: Russell Watkins/Department for International Development.  Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons -https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: Syria_1,_Emergencies_6)_(9362333059).jpg#/media/File:(Syria_1,_Emergencies_6)_(9362333059).jpg

Bow Valley locals are stepping up to help Syrian refugees and looking for other ways to welcome newcomers to our community. To keep the community informed and engaged in this important project, the Bow Valley Immigration Partnership (BVIP) will be posting periodic updates on the subject on our website. To read our first update, please click here.

Here’s what’s new since our last update:

Nationally:

  • 10,000 Syrian refugees will be settled in Canada by the end of December. An additional 15,000 will be arrive by the end of February, and an additional 10,000 are expected to arrive in the remaining months of 2016. These numbers include a mix of privately and government sponsored refugees.
  • Canada is working with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to identify refugees for resettlement in Canada, and asked asked UNHCR to prioritize individuals belonging to vulnerable groups. More information on refugee processing is available in this backgrounder from the Government of Canada.
  • Government sponsored refugees will arrive in one of 36 communities across Canada that have been identified as having the capacity to resettle government sponsored refugees. Privately sponsored refugees will be settled in the communities where their sponsors live.  
  • Syrian refugees will no longer have to pay back the Government of Canada for the cost of their transportation to Canada and medical screening.
  • The Government of Canada is now posting updates and sharing information on how Canadians can help refugees on the #RefugeesWelcome website

 

Provincially:

  • Government sponsored refugees are arriving in Calgary, Edmonton, Medicine Hat, Lightbridge, and Red Deer. Approximately 2,000-3,000 Syrian refugees are expected to arrive in Alberta.
  • In southern Alberta, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS), a long-standing partner of the Town of Banff and Town of Canmore, is coordinating Syrian refugee resettlement efforts.
  • The Alberta Refugee Resettlement Grant Initiative made an additional $1 million in funding available to agencies and organizations supporting Syrian refugee resettlement. The application process is now closed and funding decisions are pending.
  • Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the Alberta plan for refugee resettlement. For more information, please visit: http://work.alberta.ca/immigration/refugees.html


Locally:

  • The Bow Valley Syrian Refugee Project has set a fundraising goal of $80,000 and is now seeking donations and volunteers.  The group of over 100 volunteers hopes to sponsor up to 8 Syrian refugees and is working closely with the Bow Valley Immigration Partnership (BVIP) and Settlement Services in the Bow Valley to coordinate plans with local service providers.  For updates on the project or to assist, please visit: http://bowvalleysyria.ca/   
  • BVIP is working with a variety of local and regional stakeholders including service providers, schools, and employers to plan for the services that may be needed by privately sponsored refugees and/or refugees who may relocate to the area from larger centres. Our initial focus has been planning for the needs of
    • Adult and children who are pre-beginner English language or literacy learners
    • Refugees requiring specialized resettlement services that are not currently available in the Bow Valley
  • Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) provides resettlement support in small communities throughout southern Alberta. BVIP is gathering information about how we can partner with CCIS to respond to refugee needs in the Bow Valley.
  • Together with local and regional partners, BVIP is looking carefully at what local supports should be enhanced for the benefit of the whole community, which services could be brought in on a temporary basis, and where Calgary-based organizations can provide itinerant services in the Bow Valley.

Here are some of the best ways Bow Valley locals can help right now:

More ways to help and to get to know foreign-born locals include:

For more information, contact us at: bvip@banff.ca or 403 431 0705. 


Bow Valley Syrian Refugee Response - Update #1

Many Bow Valley residents have expressed an interest in helping or sponsoring Syrian refugees. The Bow Valley Immigration Partnership (BVIP) is a collaborative community initiative dedicated to improving immigrant integration.The partner organizations that make up BVIP are gathering information about refugee arrivals and working together to ready the local and regional support we anticipate will be needed. 

Here is what we know so far:

Government sponsored refugees will be arriving in Alberta in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge. These cities have in place free specialized services that Syrian refugees may need, such as settlement and supportive counselling that can be accessed in multiple languages, beginner English language and/or literacy courses, access to interpreters, family housing, and extensive public transportation. Currently, these specialized services are not available or have very limited availability in the Bow Valley. These service gaps will need to be filled by Calgary or local service providers for any refugees arriving in the Bow Valley. BVIP and our regional partners are working together to look at gaps in services and possible solutions.

Locally, a group of citizens with support from the Ralph Connor Memorial United Church and Mountain Munchkin Daycare is preparing to privately sponsor 8 Syrian refugees. Anyone interested in donating or volunteering can connect with the group at: http://bowvalleysyria.ca/

Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) is leading the Syrian refugee resettlement effort in southern Alberta. CCIS is a non-profit with over 34 years of experience in resettlement, staff who speak a combined 60 languages, and an 8 year partnership with Banff & Canmore municipalities. Support to the southern Alberta effort can be made through CCIS at:https://www.ccisab.ca/refugees/syrian. CCIS’ resettlement efforts are focused in cities. However, CCIS can provide support for sponsors in smaller communities, including provision of initial resettlement services in Calgary and matching of local volunteers with a refugee family suitable for and interested in resettling in the destination community.

If any additional refugees are arriving in the area, it is very important that local service providers have as much time to plan for their arrival as possible and that local supports be coordinated. Therefore anyone considering sponsoring refugees privately should contact BVIP. 

There are also many ways locals can help other immigrants and newcomers in our community. More than 20% of our Bow Valley permanent population was born abroad and our neighbours come from over 50 countries. Here are some ways to connect with, help, and learn more about foreign-born locals:

To learn more about the Government of Canada’s plan to resettle Syrian refugees, please visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/welcome/

Announcing #MeetTheLocals

#MeetTheLocals

The #meetthelocals campaign aims to challenge negative stereotypes and promote intercultural understanding by celebrating foreign-born and Canadian-born locals. People from over 55 countries have chosen to make their home here and more than 1 in 5 permanent Bow Valley residents was born abroad. We want to celebrate the cultural diversity of our community and help us all get to know our interesting, skilled, and caring neighbours.

Know a local we should meet? Drop us a line at bvip@banff.ca

Our First Newsletter!

"Get Excited & ChangeThings" by Flowers & Fleurons is licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

We sent our first newsletter today! This week's email talked about:

  • An update on the BVIP Integration Report (survey results)
  • New partner organizations who have joined BVIP
  • Opportunities to get involved with the project
  • A free leadership training opportunity being offered in the valley

Read all about it here

If you're not receiving our newsletter yet, you can sign up to receive it here: http://eepurl.com/YHt9n 

Putting Diversity on the Table

Last week BVIP hosting a Multicultural Potluck & Community Conversation on Diversity in Banff and dropped in on Community Food & Friends Night in Canmore. Everyone enjoyed incredible food from around the world, as well as lively conversation on immigration, integration, and diversity in the Bow Valley. The feedback we gathered from these conversations will be used to inform BVIP's strategic plan and settlement strategy for the region. 

Big thanks to The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, The Banff Centre, Nesters, Safeway, and Starbucks for generous donations of food to help keep the conversations fueled!