From left: Josephine Simpson, Greenways Land Trust Communications & Office Manager and Jim Brennan, Immigrant Welcome Centre Executive Director, announce the Campbell River Passport to Settlement program. Photo submitted

Campbell River Passport to Settlement helps immigrants get involved in the community

The Immigrant Welcome Centre is launching a new program to help immigrants connect with local services and feel more at home in Campbell River.

The Campbell River Passport to Settlement is an innovative community interaction tool designed to connect and engage immigrants and international newcomers with citizens and community organizations in the Campbell River region.

“International newcomers and local service providers can find it difficult to make connections, either because of language barriers, cultural differences or simply lack of knowledge. Through this project, our Welcoming Communities Coalition reached out to key welcoming organizations who agreed to participate, welcome our Passport users and provide basic information about their services as well as add a ‘stamp’ to their passport,” says Jim Brennan, Executive Director of the Immigrant Welcome Centre.

To use the passport, international newcomers first meet with a Settlement Practitioner at the Immigrant Welcome Centre. These highly knowledgeable professionals can assess newcomer needs, and help ease anxiety by answering questions and providing settlement information to address housing, employment, accessing health care, learning English and more as well as the often complex process of becoming a Canadian Citizen.

“Getting out and about, feeling comfortable to explore and making connections is an important part of settling successfully in a new community,” says Thuy Sin, Regional Settlement Manager. “Our staff are looking forward to introducing the Passport to their clients and celebrating with them as they make new connections and complete the tasks. It’s also a great opportunity for local service providers to meet newcomers and encourage them to get involved as participants or volunteers.”

The passport booklet is designed to help newcomers, local citizens and community organizations by increasing positive interactions with each other. Newcomers will use the tool to better navigate Campbell River and gain new knowledge and awareness of community resources in order to leverage their personal and professional success. The passport is not just a one-way learning tool, it also enables local organizations to meet and engage with Newcomers to our community as potential volunteers and employees.

The passport is a colourful multi-page booklet with sections that focus on key community sectors and services that are important for a Newcomer to be exposed to in order to support their community interaction and personal development. As an interactive tool, participants are encouraged to visit as many local organizations as they can and collect “stamps” from the host Community Partners highlighted in the passport. Following the introduction of the Passport to Settlement in Campbell River, it is hoped that it can be introduced in the Comox Valley next year.

The Passport to Settlement project is an initiative of the Welcoming Communities Coalition with funding through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada as well as the Province of British Columbia.

For more information about the Passport to Settlement, the services of the Immigrant Welcome Centre or to book an appointment, contact them at 250-830-0171 or visit ImmigrantWelcome.ca.