Syrian Refugee InformationA number of organizations in Richmond have services to help support refugees. The Federal Government is responsible for the legislation, policy, planning and funding of refugee reception and settlement services. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is the federal ministry leading government-wide efforts to resettle Syrian refugees, with logistics and strategic planning support from the federal Government Operations Centre.
Links to Information and Services
Immigrant Services Society of BC will be serving as a clearinghouse for information about all aspects of the Syrian refugee resettlement process, including news bulletins as events unfold.
Federal Government Information on Syrian Refugee Settlement
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
The federal government, through IRCC (formerly Citizenship and Immigration Canada), is coordinating the reception and settlement of Syrian refugees into Canada. IRCC is assisted by the Government Operations Centre (GOC) in logistics and developing a strategic plan. The website includes a section devoted to refugees and asylum, including information about refugee status, coming to Canada as a refugee, sponsoring a refugee and finding refugee services in Canada. A section is devoted to “Helping Syrian and Iraqi Refugees”, providing information about what Canada is doing to help, how you can donate, how to sponsor a Syrian refugee, how long it takes to process Syrian refugee applications, and where to find answers to commonly asked questions. In BC, IRCC has mandated ISSBC (see below) to coordinate the Syrian refugee reception and settlement process.
Provincial/Health Authority Initiatives
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) services for refugees are coordinated through the Bridge Clinic in Vancouver, specializing in refugee service provision, including mental health, for all refugees arriving in the VCH geographic area. Translators are available. Following an initial assessment, referral may be made close to area of residence; any refugees settling in Richmond would be served by Richmond Public Health and Richmond Hospital. VCH typically works with ISSBC and the Federal Government prior to groups’ arrival to gain an understanding of numbers and particular health concerns, including those requiring immediate attention.
BC Central Coordination and Information Resources
Immigrant Services Society of B.C.
Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSBC) is the provincial organization mandated and funded by the federal government to receive government-assisted refugees. ISSBC is coordinating the reception of Syrian refugees, as well as offers to volunteer, donate and provide accommodation. The public can register directly on the ISSBC website to assist refugees, or visit the many links provided on their website. Key resources included on the ISSBC website include “How can I help refugees in Vancouver”, a document providing multiple links to help the public to volunteer, make donations, support local initiatives, sponsor refugees, understand the issues, access research, statistics and literature. Organizations receiving material donations are also listed on the webpage.
Extensive information is also provided on their website about the Syrian refugee population and the processes to be followed here in B.C. For the most recent information about the reception and settlement process, see “Syrian Refugee Planning Reports”.
Richmond Services for Newcomers
BC Muslim Association
The BC Muslim Association has a Social Services committee that provides language and cultural services, as well as receives offers to volunteer and donate to support refugees and immigrants. The BCMA, the Mennonite Community and the Unitarian Community in Richmond are jointly fundraising to sponsor Syrian refugees.
Chimo Community Services
Chimo Community Services will provide two hours per week of Outreach and Advocacy services in Arabic, as well as two-hour workshops regarding Canadian culture and settlement in Arabic. Counselling services are available in English, including Crisis, Children who Witness Abuse, and Stop the Violence Programs. Nova Transition House for women fleeing violence has one part-time staff who speaks Arabic.
Community Airport Newcomers Network
The Community Airport Newcomers Network, operated by SUCCESS at YVR, provides services to government-assisted and privately sponsored refugees arriving at YVR. Assistance in Arabic and other languages is provided. Due to the number of Syrian refugees arriving, most assistance and support will be provided at temporary housing centres rather than at YVR.
Immigrant Services Society of BC – Richmond Offices
At ISS Richmond offices, Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC) and other settlement services are provided. LINC instruction includes job search skills, workplace English and orientation to Canadian workplace culture. Child minding is provided for registrants. See the ISSBC website for a complete list of services available.
Newcomers Guide and Tours, City of Richmond
The City of Richmond Newcomer’s Guide provides clear, accurate and accessible
information about the city, municipal government and community services provided by a number of organizations, including those supporting refugees. The City also provides newcomers’ tours of City and community facilities in partnership with local settlement service agencies.
Recreation Fee Subsidy Program, City of Richmond
The Recreation Fee Subsidy Program provides financial support for low income families looking to access recreation opportunities, as well as the Recreation Access Card providing financial support for those living with a permanent disability to access recreation.
The Richmond Low-Income Resource Directory was created to make it easier to find free and affordable services located in Richmond or available to Richmond residents. The directory includes services that are free, low cost or income-based, as well as information about goods and services not easily found in other directories or listings. Some services listed are available in several languages.
Richmond Family Place provides the Early Years Bridging Program to refugee families with children 0-6 years of age. Family support services and connections with community services are provided and Arabic language services are available. Primary eligibility is Government Assisted Refugees who have landed in Canada, although other categories of refugees are sometimes helped.
Richmond Food Bank
The Richmond Food Bank provides healthy and nutritionally-balanced food to more than 1500 people a week, providing Richmond residents with healthy food choices and connecting clients to services that address the root causes of poverty. Grocery distribution days, times and locations are listed on the website, as well as information about other programs aimed at alleviating poverty in Richmond.
Richmond Multicultural Community Services
Richmond Multicultural Community Services provides extensive programs and services for settlement and integration aimed at creating Harmony in Diversity. Programs include English conversation classes, labour market services, information and referral services and income tax clinics. Arabic-speaking staff and volunteers area available to assist.
Richmond Public Library Newcomers Services
This Newcomers section of the Richmond Public Library website is specifically designed to help newcomers find information about using the library, library services, settling into BC, improving one’s English, where to find books in Arabic and other topics of interest to newcomers.
Richmond Rental Connect (Chimo Community Services)
This service strives to connect low income, vulnerable tenants with appropriate
accommodation opportunities. Some Arabic speaking and Muslim refugee families have used this service. Those seeking to accommodate larger families and/or refugees may be assisted.
The Salvation Army provides emergency hampers and Thursday community lunches at the Richmond Community Church on Gilbert Road. A drop-in centre operated by Turning Point Recovery Society. Open Monday to Friday from 10:00am-2:00pm and offers internet access, hot beverages and snacks for anyone who is in need. Additionally, volunteers and staff help clients make connections to other services available in the community.
School District 38 – Settlement Workers in Schools
The Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) program provides settlement support for new immigrants, refugees, and other eligible clients to help them adjust to their new surroundings. They help build connections with Richmond schools, provide guidance and support needed to independently access services and resources in Richmond. The SWIS Program provides an Arabic-speaking settlement worker to assist families to integrate and link to services.
St Alban’s Anglican Church
St. Alban’s offers community meals from September to June on Tuesdays at 5:00 p.m. and homemade soup from 12:00–1:00 p.m. on Fridays. An extreme weather shelter is open during extreme weather events from November to March. Every Saturday from 8:00am to 10:00am, a shower is available along with a hot breakfast and bagged lunch. Internet access is also available. A hot meal program is available on Friday at the Brighouse Park Pavilion from noon until 2:00pm.
The SUCCESS Richmond Branch provides services for new immigrant and long-term residents, including the Immigrant Settlement and Integration Program (ISIP), Employment Counselling and Training Program, Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) and the Moving Ahead Program (MAP). MAP offers support to vulnerable immigrants and refugees with multiple barriers.
Other Services and Information Sources
Muslim Food Bank and Community Services Society (Surrey)
The Muslim Food Bank and Community Services Society, located in Surrey, provides food distribution to all Muslim families in need. It also provides links to Muslim and other services across the community, one-to-one mentoring and support to assist newcomers and those on low income to find housing and employment and receives volunteer offers as well as monetary and other donations.
Cultural Orientation Resource Centre
This cultural backgrounder about Syrian refugees provides information regarding Syria’s modern history, government, economy, populations, common beliefs and customs, conditions in first-asylum countries, and implications for resettlement. Please also see the ISSBC Website (link above) for a complete list of other services, resources and volunteer/donor/sponsorship opportunities.