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London Drugs #Welcoming150 Campaign Supporting New Canadian Families

AAISA is happy to support London Drugs as they work with local service providers through the #Welcoming150 campaign.

This program and donation drive supports 150 new Canadian families across Western Canada who left their country of origin due to unsafe circumstances.

AAISA was happy to assist London Drugs in matching stores with newcomer serving agencies, and families across Alberta. People can visit their local London Drugs to learn about the families adopted by that store, and donate items based on the specific needs of those families.

Items collected will be delivered to the participating 150 families across Western Canada before Canada Day on July 1, 2017.

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4 Ways You Can Help Newcomers in Your Community

By Content Contributor: Juhhie Mendiratta

Educate Yourself

Resettlement is a difficult and time-consuming process for both newcomers and those involved in the resettlement process. One of the best ways to help newcomers or refugees settle in Canada is to educate yourself, friends, and family about the immigration, resettlement and integration process in Canada.

Learn more about educating yourself and others here.

Volunteer

Volunteering not only benefits the organizations that assist newcomers, but also helps refugees and immigrants to apply their skills and gain Canadian work experience.

Volunteers at newcomer serving organizations play a vital role in helping families and individuals settle into their new communities. They provide programs and services including: childcare, translation services, filing documentation, booking appointments and community events.

Individuals with specialized skills can volunteer their skills and experience to support newcomers. Chartered Professional Accountants for example can volunteer for tax clinics, or the CPA Financial Literacy Program, which helps Canadians improve their financial knowledge and make the best possible financial decisions.

You can also volunteer your time as an employment mentor, or for informational interviews – a way for newcomers to network, and gain insight into the Canadian workplace culture and opportunities. Volunteering your time and skills in this way helps open the door to opportunities for newcomers, such as internships, summer jobs, part-time work, or paid work.

Contact your local immigrant serving agency to explore volunteer opportunities.

Refugee Sponsorship

Canada is the only country in the world that has a private refugee sponsorship program (Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program) where the community is directly involved in the resettlement of refugees. Fundraising is done by faith communities, ethnic groups, families, and other benevolent associations. These groups fundraise or use their personal income to support the sponsored individual or family for one year in Canada.

You can sponsor refugees through: Groups of Five, Community Sponsorship and Sponsorship Agreement Holders.

Support Advocates

As an individual in the community, you can get involved with organizations that advocate for the rights of immigrants and refugees. Organizations such as Amnesty International have more than 7 million members in 150 countries who are fighting for the protection of human rights. The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) is a national non-profit umbrella organization committed to the rights and protection of refugees and other vulnerable persons.

Click here for more information on Amnesty International and the Canadian Council for Refugees.

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5 Ways Settlement Professionals Can Upgrade

By Content Contributor: Juhhie Mendiratta & Amy Crofts

AAISA Training for Settlement Practitioners & Professionals

Established in 1989, AAISA offers the Settlement Practitioner Training and Accreditation Program,  the only program in Canada to provide certification to qualified Settlement Practitioners, based on competencies that are outlined in the Alberta Framework of Competencies for Settlement Practitioners.

Depending on education and experience, AAISA offers ongoing professional development opportunities, a Pre-Service Certificate as well as Settlement Practitioner Certification – Level 2, Level 3, and Mentor. AAISA offers 14 courses per year online and in-person; there are three certification deadlines per year.

Check out current course offerings here.

OCASI Learn at Work

The Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) offers free online courses to help Settlement Professionals build their skills in serving newcomers. Current course offerings include serving youth in newcomer communities, bridging employment services, serving LGBTQ+ newcomers, mental health, and violence prevention.

Register here.

AMSSA Videos & Webinars

The Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC (AMSSA) offers online videos, e-symposia, webinars and other resources on topics related to settlement service delivery, diversity and inclusion. Past online training includes Connecting Refugee Private Sponsor Groups with Settlement Service Providers and Creating and Maintaining Ethical Boundaries in Client Relationships.

Check out current online offerings here.

The Refugee Mental Health Project

The Refugee Mental Health Project by the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health, aims to provide settlement and social service providers with the necessary information, skills, and tools required to identify, screen, and support refugee clients with their mental health. Courses and webinars are open to settlement and social service professionals across Canada.

Learn more here.

Creating Welcoming Learning Communities: University of Alberta

The University of Alberta has launched an interactive webinar series for educators that focuses on supporting the successful integration of refugee students into schools. Key topics discussed in the series include: understanding refugee experiences, facilitating a sense of belonging, communicating about school culture, strategies for engaging refugee children in learning, and assessing refugee children’s learning.

Watch both past and upcoming webinars here.

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Registration extended! Working with Refugees with Complex Needs

Calling all Settlement Practitioners and Professionals! We still have a few spots left in our upcoming course – Working with Refugees with Complex Needs.

This will be a two-day face-to-face course in Calgary. Participants will be using a series of case studies based on profiles of immigrant families to identify complex factors that present challenges to integration. They will create a resource map of current community supports, examine action planning, case management strategies, and identify gaps in community resources.

Date: June 15 and 16, 2017

Location: Kahanoff Center (Room 208) 105 12 Ave SE #200, Calgary, AB T2G 1A1

Facilitator: Hieu Ngo

Course Fee:

There is a $250 course registration fee per spot for this course (non AAISA members). AAISA will inform you of the payment procedure, once the spots are filled.

Course Registration Process:

Registration will be conducted on a first-come, first-served basis. To secure a spot(s), contact AAISA by 5 p.m. on June 122017.

Register for the AAISA Learning Community here. Then enrol in the course here.

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Apps for Refugees

By Content Contributor: Juhhie Mendiratta & Amy Crofts

With a growing number of displaced persons around the world and the need to stay connected to family and friends, NGOs, governments and start ups are building mobile tools for refugees. Below is a sampling of apps available for refugees across the globe, to assist with communication, navigation, language learning, and support from donors.

Communication

REFUNITE – REFUNITE is an independent technology based non-profit. They have partnered with Facebook’s Free Basics service, making their platform available for free in 17 countries. REFUNITE’s web and app based platforms work to reconnect families. It supports several languages—English, Arabic, Farsi, German, Spanish, French, Turkish, and Greek.

Information & Navigation

InfoAid – is an app developed and maintained by volunteers thru Migration Aid based in Hungary. The goal of the app is make vital information and updates available for refugees. A major challenge for refugees to use mobile applications is a lack of access to the Internet, wifi or data. OsmAnd is an offline map and navigation app, with map and navigation information available worldwide.

Language

Phase6 hallo – is an educational app for children and young migrants who have a limited knowledge of the German language. The aim of the app is to speed up language learning through vocabulary, comprehension, and writing practice for better transition and integration into the school system.

Giving

GiveNow is an app that facilities item donations, for voluntary organizations and for refugees. The app connects organizations with donors who collect donated items and bring them to refugee-serving organizations. Items that can be donated include: smartphones, blankets, travel bags, sleeping bags, train tickets, baby products, hygiene, shoes, and clothing. The app is limited to one organization in Berlin, but other agencies can apply to use this service.

…and Finally

A more comprehensive look at Apps for Refugees: How technology helps in a humanitarian crisis, was recently published in the May 2017 issue of The Atlantic. Hopefully these apps and articles give you a good idea as to what technologies have been developed and are available for refugees and displaced persons.

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5 Stories of Resettlement Success

By Content Contributor: Juhhie Mendiratta

Canada resettles refugees to save lives and provide stability to individuals fleeing persecution and oppression. Here are five stories about refugees who have fled their home countries and are now successfully building their new lives in Canada.

Tarek Nemr’s Story

Tarek Nemr successfully arrived in Canada in April 2017 after fleeing the violence and bloodshed in Syria. Previously, he was living as an asylum seeker in Jordan. The Calgary Centre for Global Community raised $12,500 and found accommodation for him to resettle in Calgary. Nemr is excited to be in Canada and his main priority is to find work and start his new life here

Read the full story here.

The Alrajab Family’s Story

A Syrian family with disabled children were welcomed to Saint John, New Brunswick. Three of their five children were diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder called leukodystrophy that causes atrophy in the muscles and nerves.

“For a disabled child, resettlement is particularly critical as it opens up opportunities for education, medical and psychological support, and often, a more conducive non-discriminatory environment in which to grow and flourish,” says Michael Casasola, UNHCR Senior Resettlement Officer.

Read the full story here.

The Hadhad Family’s Story

In 2012 the Hadhad family ended up as refugees in Lebanon, and four years later Isam, his wife, Shahnaz, and their four children were among the 40,000 Syrian refugees resettled in Canada under the Welcome Refugees initiative.

Weeks after settling in Antigonish, the family relaunched their chocolate business, eventually christening it “Peace by Chocolate.” The Hadhads donated their profits made during the month of May last year to those affected by the Fort McMurray wildfires.

Read the full story here.

Safwan’s Story

Safwan, his wife and three children were accepted by the Government of Canada in January 2016 as government-assisted refugees in Toronto. COSTI Immigrant Services, funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, helped Safwan and his family find housing and resettlement services in Canada. He started working at Adonis Supermarket and is expecting to open his own business soon.

Read the full story here.

Ibrahim Haltl Dudu’s Story

Ibrahim Haltl Dudu arrived in Toronto in September 2016 and did not speak English. However, when the zipper of a bride’s dress broke on her wedding day, and with the help of Google Translate and a positive attitude, Dudu saved the day! Jo, the bride, was sewn into her dress, the zipper was done up and she was ready to go for her big day.

Read the full story here.

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Feb.13, 2017

Forum focuses on success of refugees

Lethbridge HeraldNow that they’ve settled into their new lives in Alberta, how are our Syrian refugees doing? That was the focus of a community forum held here last week. The Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies held its fifth and final session here to hear about the experiences of Syrian refugees who call Lethbridge home. The results of the study are expected to shed light on their specific needs, barriers and experiences.

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