How one local health centre is helping refugees
Heather Nelson of Access Midwifery & Family Care

Tell us a little bit about yourself
I was born and grew up in Victoria and am so glad to still call this city home. I share a house with my husband, my two children (ages 4 & 6), and my mom. I work as a Registered Midwife at Access Midwifery & Family Care, where we provide maternity care to women and their families. I love to spend time in my garden, growing vegetables and flowers. Being outside with my kids is also one of the highlights of my life so we spend lots of time camping, hiking, and biking as a family.
What made you reach out to ICA to support Syrian refugees?
I had the privilege of working at ICA many years ago as a Volunteer Coordinator for some wonderful community festivals. Hearing about the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Canada has been a catalyst for me to reach out to my former colleagues at ICA to see if we can cooperate to provide maternity care to Syrian and other refugee families settling in Victoria. 
What services can you offer?
Registered Midwives are regulated health professionals in BC. We offer full-scope maternity care to women. We order routine lab work and ultrasounds, conduct regular prenatal check-ups, provide clinical, physical, and emotional support during labour, and we care for mother and baby for about 6 weeks after baby is born. Our model of care promotes continuity of care, informed choice decision making, and choice of birth place (hospital or home). Cost for services for refugees are covered by the Interim Federal Health Benefits program or MSP. There are about 30 Registered Midwives working in Greater Victoria and we presently conduct more than 30% of the births in the region.

Future Victoria residents need your help
You are surely aware of the refugee crisis that has been unfolding in Syria and other parts of the world for the last few years. You will know that there are millions of Syrian refugees and internally displaced children and families. But Canadians, like you and I, can play an important role in the resettlement of people being displaced from their lives. You have the potential to change the future for a family, perhaps a family like your own, by helping them rebuild their home and life in our Victoria community.

"To be a refugee is not a choice"
, shares William Goldiet, a former refugee from South Sudan now living in Victoria and working with ICA as a settlement worker. Millions of families have been uprooted from their lives because of circumstances that are beyond their control. Amal and Saad have been in a refugee camp in Jordan with their four children since 2013. Amal is a nurse and Saad is a math professor. Although Amal and Saad are well-educated, their large family and the funds needed to support them has deterred groups from sponsoring this family. 

Your gift will make the life-changing difference to families like Amal and Saad's. Since ICA's announcement in August 2015 of being approved by the federal government as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder, we have been able to work with dedicated community members to sponsor refugee individuals and families from Syria and many other countries. Your donation will provide funds needed to support families. We know that the Greater Victoria community has much to offer to newcomer refugees and, in turn, resettled refugees work hard and make valuable economic and social contributions to our dynamic community. Read full story here. 
Are you wanting to donate household items to help Syrian refugees?
ICA and WIN are collaborating to support Syrian refugee resettlement into Victoria, BC!

The Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) and the Victoria Women in Need Community Cooperative (WIN) are partnering to support refugee resettlement in Victoria, BC. Any in-kind donations consisting of household items can be brought to the WIN donation centre. In the last number of years WIN has been providing ICA with gift certificates under their Gift Certificate Program to support immigrants and refugees. We will continue this partnership as well as cooperate to ensure Syrian refugees are equipped with basic necessities.
Community members wanting to assist refugees by offering in-kind donations are encouraged to contact WIN to coordinate drop-off times and locations.

For any questions please contact ICA or WIN at:

The Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria
930 Balmoral Road, Victoria, BC, V8T 1A8

Victoria Women in Need Community Cooperative
Donation Line: 250-480-4006 ext. 2

Donations accepted at
1803 Cook Street (housewares)
1107 North Park Street (clothing)

Furniture Donations ONLY accepted at

785 Pandora Avenue
Our community is "a place to call home."
Submitted by Deb Hamblin, Employment Services Manager

Seven years ago, Penelope moved from Mexico's second largest city, Guadalajara, Jalisco to Calgary, Alberta. She describes the experience as moving from a large city that felt like a small city to a large city that really felt like a large city.
Back home, Penelope earned a degree in Psychology with a specialization in Human Resources.  To continue to work in her chosen profession in Canada, Penelope needed to study English before registering for the Human Resources Management Certificate at Mount Royal College. 

After she graduated, the labour market in Calgary was favorable and jobs were plentiful. She worked for a couple of years in Human Resources; however, in February of this year found herself laid off. Penelope felt she had been fortunate to get work but her luck had run out. After eight months of sending over 400 resumes, she still did not have a job. "I thought I was lucky in the beginning of my time in Canada but felt I wasn't lucky anymore and it affected me badly. I thought I would have to change careers," she recalls. Discouraged, Penelope decided to leave Alberta and its coldness behind, and move to BC.  Initially she was headed to Vancouver, but after seeing ferry tickets for sale in Golden, BC she made a beeline for the Island.  
CPN Update: Did you know that Greater Victoria is home to more than 3,000 Filipinos and their families?
Submitted by Steven Baileys, Community Development Coordinator

On November 12, more than 50 members of the CPN gathered to share and learn about the history and culture of the Filipino community and the programs and services provided by the Bayanihan Centre.

Some members were surprised to learn about the diversity of the Philippines including that the country has more than 7,100 islands with many regions, dialects and faiths. Filipino-Canadians are the third-largest Asian Canadian group in the nation, after the Indian and Chinese communities. It was in 1930 when the first Filipinos arrived in Victoria, a small group of nurses journeyed here to seek a new life. Today, Greater Victoria is home to more than three thousand Filipinos and their families. The Bayanihan Centre offers a range of cultural, educational and social activities for families, seniors, youth.

Busy but successful! Youth programs update at ICA
Submitted by Claire Kelly, Settlement Youth Worker


It has been a very successful, and very busy season for youth programs at ICA.

This fall, we have had four programs to support newcomer youth in Victoria, including: Girls Action Club, Homework Club, Youth Employment Training, and the Meet Up. All programs are mid-way through and have been very popular. Homework Club and The Meet Up have been so popular, in fact, that they have reached their maximum capacity at about 25 youth each.

Below, you will see the youth from The Meet Up enjoying a hip-hop class taught by guest dance instructor, Madoka Suzuki. Other events at The Meet Up have included a karaoke night, a trip to the Board Game Café, pumpkin carving, and a ghost walk at Victoria High School to celebrate Halloween - with so many fun events, it's no wonder they draw in so many youth!

For more information about The Meet Up, please contact Alexandra Dawley (, and for all other programs, contact Claire Kelly (

ICA "mo-bros" raise awareness about prostate cancer!

November has become the time of year when some men grow out their facial hair to help raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer. ICA male staff have been active Movember participants, and this year has been no exception. Moustaches, goatees, and boards flourished in support of this annual campaign and ICA staff where able to share information with newcomers and clients about the importance of such an initiative. Thank you to all of the Movember participants for supporting such a worthy cause!
See our Facebook post here
"The Group of 7," a new group creating community
ICA Interview with Constituent Group Member, Brenda Henderson

ICA is working with over 20 groups to privately sponsor refugees. Here is the background of how one sponsoring group got started. Thank you to Brenda and the Group of 7 for speaking with us!

How many people are part of your Constituent Group?
There are 7 of us. We call ourselves "The Group of 7."

How did you come together?
Like many people, I saw the heartbreaking photo of Alan Kurdi and I realized that our government should be doing more to help refugees, and I should be doing more to help refugees. I heard about a "Refugees are Welcome" rally in downtown Victoria and I decided to attend. At that rally, I heard Reverend Bruce Bryant-Scott of St. Matthias Anglican Church speak and he encouraged interested citizens to attend a meeting about private sponsorship of refugees. A good friend, Saija Tissari, and I attended this meeting together (along with about 300 other Victorians) and we came away from that meeting inspired to form a constituent group. At the initial meeting held by Reverend Bryant-Scott, it was indicated that 7-10 people is optimal for a constituent group so we set upon finding some other friends who we thought would be enthusiastic about this project. Five of our friends responded quickly and enthusiastically that they would be happy to help us bring a family of refugees to Canada. Thus, the "Group of 7" was born.

Are there any special skills your CG has that you would like to share?
The beauty of bringing refugees to Canada is that one doesn't actually need any special skills, just a willingness to help others (although fundraising knowledge is really helpful, too)! Our constituent group is made up of 7 ordinary Canadians and I would encourage others to consider forming or joining a constituent group. It has been a very rewarding experience. 
What have some of your fundraising efforts been?
When we were initially matched with a family from the BVOR (blended visa-office referred) list, we were required to deposit $25,000 in less than two weeks. We knew that we were not going to have time to organize any fundraising events in that window of time so we asked for financial donations from those people close to us. We each approached close friends and family members and raised $33,000 in 9 days. I think the short time frame really helped us because people knew that they had to act quickly and they had to act generously if we were going to be successful in sponsoring this family. The last $10,000 that we needed trickled in over the last few weeks. Read more from our interview with Brenda here
Members of the Immigrant Advisory Table are selected!
Submitted by Steven Baileys, Community Outreach Coordinator 

Kade Hardy-Agueh_ Naji Khodashenas Firouzabadi_ Pulcherie Mboussi_ Ximena Londono_ Jaerang Lee_ Jakelina Listes_ Hyeyoung Jeon_ Ben Pires_ Luka and Max_ Silvia Mangue Alene_ Alexa de Aquino_ Alfred Okot Ochen. Not pictured_ Li Chuang and Olga Minko
Kade Hardy-Agueh, Naji Khodashenas Firouzabadi, Pulcherie Mboussi, Ximena Londono, Jaerang Lee, Jakelina Listes, Hyeyoung Jeon, Ben Pires, Luka and Max, Silvia Mangue Alene, Alexa de Aquino, Alfred Okot Ochen. Not pictured: Li Chuang and Olga Minko
Congratulations to the members of the newly formed LIP Immigrant Advisory Table (IAT). Over the coming months, the Immigrant Advisory Table members will advise and support the GVLIP. All of the members are dedicated, passionate, and knowledgeable about creating communities that welcome newcomer immigrants. The table members came to Canada as immigrants and represent many countries around the globe including: Croatia, Colombia, South Korea, Cameroon, Russia, India, Brazil, Spain, Iran, and Ghana. One member, Ben Pires, said it best following our first meeting in late October: "It was delightful to meet co-members at the first meeting of the Immigrant Advisory Table of the Greater Victoria Local Immigration Partnership... and to be working with people who have such diverse ethno-cultural ancestries, backgrounds and experiences." Thanks Ben.

We feel the same way too! We are looking forward to working with IAT members to create a more welcoming and inclusive Greater Victoria.

The Greater Victoria Local Immigration Project (GVLIP) is an initiative funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The GVLIP brings together CPN members and other local key stakeholders to promote immigration integration in our region. 
If your organization or business would like to learn more about or become a part of the GVLIP, please contact:   

Syrian Refugee Fact Sheet
Here are some helpful facts about the Syrian refugee crisis.

In This Issue
How one local health care centre is helping refugees
Future Victoria residents need your help
Are you wanting to donate household items to help Syrian refugees?
CPN update
ICA Youth Programs Update
ICA "mo-bros" make a comeback
Group of 7: One constituent group's story
Immigrant Advisory Table members selected
Quick facts on Syrian refugee crisis
What's Happening?
Community Events







ICA is on Instragram

Follow @icavictoria 




What's Happening? 
ICA Workshops & Programming
Weekly Settlement Orientation Sessions
Important information to help newcomers settle in Victoria. 
Available in English on Wednesdays
12:30  - 2:30 pm  
Available in Mandarin on Wednesdays
9:30 am - 11:30 am
普通话讲座: 周三上午9:30 - 11:30 
Entrepreneur in Residence
Need help starting your own business? One-on-one and group sessions with expert entrepreneur coach to plan, start and operate your business. 

Citizenship Classes 
Help applicants prepare for citizenship tests.  
Two Fridays per month.   

ICA Employment Services
If you are looking for employment or need to upgrade, ICA's Employment Services Centre can help!  

Community Events
The Victoria Soul Christmas Concert with Checo Tohomaso
Join us in a soul gospel celebration of Christmas. 
Saturday, December 12, 2015 
First Metropolitan United Church

Tuba Christmas 
A tradition that began in New York's Rockefeller Centre; more than 65 tuba players from across BC and the PNW come together to play much loved Christmas songs. 
Saturday, December 12, 2015
1 pm -  3 pm
Market Square  
Santa Brunch
Join Santa and the Elves for a brunch in the Crystal Ballroom and Palm Court of the Empress Hotel.
Sunday, December 13, 2015
10 am - 2 pm
Fairmont Empress Hotel

Christmas Starlight Cinema  
Bundle up the family to enjoy a Victoria Christmas Tradition: Christmas movies under the stars on Victoria's beautiful Inner Harbour. Movies are free but donations to Santas Anonymous are appreciated.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015 6 pm
Polar Express
Wed, December 16, 2015 6 pm
It's a Wonderful Life
Inner Harbour at Delta Ocean Point

17th Annual Sing-Along Messiah
Come sign along to one of Handel's greater works. Under the direction of Hilary Coupland, and the Civic Orchestra of Victoria, you, the audience, also perform the part of the chorus.   
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
7 pm
Alix Golden Hall
Santa Scoot
A parade of Vespas and vintage scooters will be making their way through city streets collecting donations. Keep an eye out for Santa!   
Saturday, December 19, 2015
11 am - 2 pm
Market Square 

Ensemble Laude: Tree of Life
The evergreen tree symbolizes life and hope in the darkest of times. This concert brings the timelessness of music celebrates hope in the dark season.  
Sunday, December 20, 2015
2:30  pm  
St. Mary's Church, 4125 Metchosin Rd.   

Winter Solstice Dance & Celebration
Join in community to dance then ight away and welcome the return of the life.  
Friday, December 18, 2015
6 pm - 12 am  
White Eagle Hall, 90 Dock St. 

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