How to Collaborate and Partner for Success
Collaboration has been a major strength of the Syrian refugee resettlement process in Alberta. A historic level of collaboration has occurred at all levels of government as well as between community agencies, public institutions, faith-based organizations, the private sector, and the community at large. Strengthened relationships and new partnerships have opened support networks for refugees and have led to increased organizational capacity to serve newcomers. Combining resources and working together has helped mobilize resettlement efforts in several key areas.
Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs)
Local Immigration Partnerships have been established in municipalities across Canada since 2008. Funded by Immigrants Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), LIPs are community development initiatives which support the settlement and integration of newcomers. In November 2016 there were 70 LIPs operating across the country.
LIPs bring together agencies, service providers, community groups and businesses, to work together to identify obstacles which newcomers face. The end goal is to strategically overcome these barriers to foster welcoming and inclusive communities.
LIPs are improving newcomer resettlement experiences in several Alberta communities:
- Calgary Local Immigration Partnership (CLIP)
- Bow Valley Immigration Partnership (BVIP)
- Edmonton Local Immigration Partnership
- Lethbridge Local Immigration Partnership
- Brooks Local Immigration Partnership
An unprecedented amount of donations – from food, to household items and monetary contributions – were collected when the first wave of Syrian refugees arrived in Alberta. Volunteers and community groups provided space and logistical support for the collection of donations which Refugee Assistance Program (RAP) providers did not necessarily have. Below are examples of volunteer initiatives that grew from initial resettlement needs:
Syrian Refugee Support Group Calgary – Founded in October 2015, this group of Calgary volunteers initially collected clothing and furniture donations that were accessible via a warehouse to refugees (both Government Sponsored and Privately Sponsored). Although the warehouse is now closed, the group is still dedicated to the settlement and integration effort and to better the lives of refugees. Their Facebook page is regularly updated with information about programs, services, and events for newcomers.
Edmonton Refugee Volunteers – Is an active group that has mobilized volunteers to help refugees directly, as well as through the many organizations and agencies that provide support to newcomers in the Edmonton area. Their Facebook page provides information on events and gives space to organizations seeking volunteers and donations for the ongoing resettlement effort.
Edmonton Islamic Relief Centre – This is an active Facebook group with information on community events, volunteer opportunities and donations. They have created a mini “shopping centre” at 12650 151 Avenue, for newcomers to select donated items they are in need of.
Cross-sector collaboration has been instrumental in connecting newcomers and their sponsors with resources, in addition to the development of innovative programming to improve the resettlement experience. Below are a select few examples of successful cross-sector collaborations:
The L.E.A.D (Literacy, English and Academic Development) program by the Calgary Board of Education supports students transitioning into mainstream and English as a Second Language courses. L.E.A.D classrooms have a teacher and an English language learning assistant, and the support of psychologists who specialize in trauma.
Calgary Refugee Health is a website designed to give refugees in Southern Alberta easy access to key medical information and services, as well as information for doctors helping to treat refugee patients. The site is run by University of Calgary medical students with help from Mosaic Refugee Health Clinic and Calgary Catholic Immigration Society.
During initial resettlement efforts, housing forums were held in RAP destination centres between immigrant serving agencies, municipal governments, landlords and property managers. From these forums a database on housing availability was created, which made finding permanent accommodation much easier for providers to find.
Resources for Collaboration
Collaboration is key to creating welcoming communities that are able to provide language, employment, and community supports to newcomers. Below are select resources on how to effectively work together with governments and agencies, expand supports and services, as well as examples of successful public-private partnerships that have emerged across Canada.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has resources on how local governments and citizens can work together to create welcoming communities for refugees, as well as a list of successful partnerships across Canada.
Pathways to Prosperity: Canada (P2P) is an alliance of university, community, and government partners dedicated to promoting the integration of immigrants and minorities across Canada. The main activities of the partnership are primary and secondary research, conferences and workshops, but they are also a great hub of information on Local Immigration Partnerships, best practices and resource material.
Imagine Canada spoke with four settlement and integration sector leaders in the article “The Sector in Action: Charities’ Role in Settling Refugees.” The piece discusses the involvement of settlement agencies in supporting Syrian refugees and asked how the sector as a whole can continue to support this work in the future.
Government Assisted Refugees coming to Alberta will be originally settled in one of six official resettlement cities. These cities are Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and Brooks. Each of the six resettlement centres have a Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) provider and other services available to help get refugees off to a successful start in their new home.
Privately Sponsored Refugees may settle outside of these six cities.
Click on the links below, or the dots on the map, to find programs and services in your community or by using our searchable database.
Refugees have arrived in Alberta
Since November 2015