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New Action Plan to Support Immigrants and Refugees

April 8, 2013

Surrey – The Surrey Welcoming Communities Committee has developed a new action plan to help ensure immigrants and refugees can successfully integrate into the social and economic life of Surrey. The plan outlines the barriers that currently exist and what can be done to address these concerns, including a series of projects that will be completed over the next year involving youth, business groups, education sectors, service providers, and the broader community.

“We want the immigrants and refugees who chose to settle in Surrey to lead successful, productive and fulfilling lives. It’s important to the health and vitality of our city that all of our residents feel included and have opportunities to succeed,” says Mayor Dianne Watts.

Some of the barriers identified include integrating into the workforce, building intercultural understanding, forming new relationships, and accessing welcoming spaces and services. The action plan is a multi-pronged approach to addressing these issues and contains a series of activities including:

Youth Conference
A network of youth-serving organizations will support youth leaders in planning a weekend conference next October.

Youth-led Welcoming Communities Social Media Project
A group of immigrant and refugee youth will be recruited and trained to engage in the development of a Welcoming Communities social media project which will be launched at the Youth Conference.

Public Exhibitions of Refugee Cultures
The Surrey Museum and Surrey Public Library will research and develop a Refugee Cultural Exhibit(s) to showcase the history, cultures and contributions of refugees to Surrey.

Education Sector Training Series
Training materials and resources targeting Surrey’s education sector will be developed, and training sessions for educators will be conducted between June 2013 and March 2014.

Welcoming Spaces and Workplaces Reviews
A number of new immigrants will be selected and trained to review and report back on the welcoming nature of community spaces and workplaces.

Employer and Business Presentations and Forums
This project will support the research and development of a series of information/educational resources and events for the business community in Surrey. This will include a series of five speaking events and a joint employer/immigrant community forum.

Service Provider Welcoming Communities Events
Over the course of the project, a networking event (June 2013) and a service provider conference (January 2014) will be organized for immigrant-serving and mainstream service agencies to ensure they are aware of the range of services available to newcomers, immigrants and refugees.

Welcoming Communities Dialogues Inspired By Cooking and Food
Six Welcoming Communities dialogues inspired by cooking and food will be organized to attract those who may not otherwise be engaged in the issues related to the development of welcoming communities. The dialogues will engage attendees in discussions regarding the challenges faced by newcomers. The events will focus on a specific ethnic cuisine including Korean, Indian, Pilipino, Chinese, African and Middle Eastern.

Web Resources
Two existing websites that were developed with funding from previous Welcoming and Inclusive Communities and Workplaces Program allocations will be utilized for the project: www.wicsurrey.org and http://www.getintheknow.ca.

“We want all of our residents to feel welcomed at school, in the community and in the workforce. This action plan will expand on the programs underway and build the capacity of our city to better support new immigrants and refugees,” says Councillor Judy Villeneuve, Chair of the Social Planning Advisory Committee.

The Surrey Welcoming Communities Committee includes 22 organizations representing diverse sectors of the community including the: City, School District, business community, education sector, and non-profit agencies. The Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia provided $667,000 for the initiative.

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Media Contact:

Judy Mann
Executive Assistant
Office of the Mayor
604.591.4429
778.846.0397