Diversity and immigration partnership supports the community

Program for newcomers enters its second year

Hardeep Sidhu

Hardeep Sidhu

The Fraser Valley Diversity and Immigration Partnership (FVDIP) is heading into its second year of assisting immigrants in the Abbotsford community.

An event in downtown Abbotsford last week launched the second year of the partnership, which is made up of leaders from different organizations, sectors and industries in the Fraser Valley area.

Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) received $288,000 in federal funding to lead the project as part of the federal government’s Local Immigration Partnership (LIP). LIPs bring together community groups and organizations to develop co-ordinated approaches to promote and incorporate immigrant settlement and integration.

Hardeep Sidhu, chair of the FVDIP council, said Abbotsford welcomes more than 1,000 immigrants each year. She said moving to a new country is stressful, but the community can help.

“Organizations have come together to form this collective initiative … designed to strengthen our ability to welcome immigrants who call the Fraser Valley their home.”

The partnership council – which has representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, school district, University of the Fraser Valley and more – aims to help attract, settle and integrate immigrants to build a stronger community and businesses. The council aims to learn what is available for immigrants, what is lacking and how to increase awareness of immigrant needs.

Grace, a local newcomer, spoke about the difficulties she faced in coming to Canada.

Previously a licensed physiotherapist in the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, she moved to Canada as a live-in caregiver to gain her permanent residency so her husband and child could join her. What was supposed to take about 18 months ended up taking seven years of being alone in Canada.

Grace said it is important for people to know how difficult it is to immigrate, adding it was helpful to have support.

“I was crying myself to sleep,” she said. “I was just so lonely.”

She was directed to ACS, which helped her with her applications and connected her with assistance for skills training.

“I was overwhelmed with all the help that I got.”

Manpreet Grewal, director of multicultural and immigrant services at ACS, said the partnership is needed because integration “is a two-way street.”

She said community groups can provide different benefits and there is a process to see what roles everyone can play.

For more information, visit www.fraservalleydiversity.ca.