Welcoming Communities projects geared towards newcomers and immigrants

Earlier this year, Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy received grant money from WelcomeBC to help immigrants and newcomers

Carole Rooney photo  Joanne Young was busy painting 'hellos' and words of welcome in English and 'every language under the sun' on glass doors and windows of organizations throughout 100 Mile House

Carole Rooney photo Joanne Young was busy painting 'hellos' and words of welcome in English and 'every language under the sun' on glass doors and windows of organizations throughout 100 Mile House

Are you new to the area?

Are you interested in all the great things there are to do living here?

Are you trying to meet new friends?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will definitely want to know all about the Welcoming Communities Project (WCP) in 100 Mile House.

Earlier this year, Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy (CCPL) received grant money from WelcomeBC to help immigrants and newcomers settle into their new lives and become part of their new community.

To help with this project, CCPL hired Kimberly Vance-Lundsbye for the position of Welcoming Communities co-ordinator for 100 Mile House and the South Cariboo.

Kimberly says a Welcoming Community is one that does not simply tolerate difference, but is one that celebrates it.

“To be welcoming and inclusive, communities must include people from diverse cultural backgrounds in all aspects of community life and recognize their contributions to that community.”

She adds the WCP programs vary greatly from community to community and they are developed based on the community’s needs and strengths.

In January 2013, the South Cariboo Research Consortium (contracted by the South Cariboo Community Planning Council and (CCPL) developed a survey that was distributed to newcomers, businesses and service providers.

From the responses, community strengths were identified, as were gaps in knowledge and service. A proposed action plan was developed.

The demographic profile of the South Cariboo was also considered in the development of the plan. As a member of that research team, Kimberly understood the need to uphold this community assessment when planning, adapting and implementing this action plan in our community.

There are a variety of Welcoming Communities projects set for the South Cariboo. Some highlights include:

Welcome windows

Window paintings throughout the town of “hello” and “welcome” in English and another language of the window owner’s choice to welcome newcomers and residents alike from all around the world.

More importantly, these messages show community unity and celebrate diversity.

 

Holiday dinner host

This program matches local families with new families to our area.

Families welcome a new family and get them connected into the word-of-mouth network of community information through food.

 

Community connecting across cultures

Several special interest classes will be offered free of charge to all participants this fall and winter.

Some of the registered spots will be reserved for people who have lived in Canada less than five years. The remainder will be open to anyone who wants to take the class. Examples of possible classes include canning, cooking, and photography.

 

Community information

Kimberly is working on streamlining community information.

Efforts are being made to direct newcomer queries to the South Cariboo Visitor Centre, as it is a wealth of information for both visitors and new residents to our area. Translated copies of the South Cariboo Visitor Guide will be provided this year.

A leisure guide is being developed in partnership with the South Cariboo Rec. Centre and the South Cariboo Community Planning Council.

 

Community cultural competency education

A Cultural Competency Self-Assessment will be distributed in September with a follow-up World Café open to the community, business and service providers.

An overall goal Kimberly has in all of the WCP programs is to promote our community by highlighting all that we have to offer our residents and potential new families. Many of our strengths in the South Cariboo, the reasons we love to live here, are not always tangible, she says.

I want newcomers to our area to become included in community life quickly and completely and I want potential newcomers to see that there is more than meets the eye to the South Cariboo. There is a strong, supportive community here and hidden opportunities just waiting to be found.”

Kimberly was born and raised in White Rock, and has a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation and a certificate in writing and publishing. She has worked in long-term care with seniors and people with disabilities, as well as in a student support role at Douglas College.

She moved 100 Mile House with her family following a job opportunity for her husband. They wanted to live in a smaller community where they can one day own a home and raise their children.