**The Kamloops Welcoming Communities Program was completed at the end of March, 2014. You can find all of the materials the program developed here: WCP Legacy Toolkit! (Please note that this is a very large file – 25MB).**
This initiative was developed to support strategies that foster welcoming and inclusive communities through partnerships which include the business, government, and community sectors as well as Aboriginal and immigrant communities.
The Welcoming Communities Program involves:
– Community Partnership Development
– Public Dialogues to enhance knowledge development & exchange
– Public Education through workshop and community activities
– Resource development to help provide long term support
At the start of 2013, Kamloops Immigrant Services – in partnership with the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society (KAFS) – was successful in a bid for funding to develop a local Welcoming Communities Program. KAFS has provided technical equipment to the project in addition to an office space located at 115 Palm Street. Two individuals were hired to coordinate the program over the course of the year, Allysa Gredling (Welcoming Communities Coordinator) and Geoffrey Otto (Welcoming Communities Assistant Coordinator). With the support of 7 community support partners an action plan was developed for moving forward. The goal of the program was to increase the capacity of Kamloops to be welcoming and inclusive of new immigrants by increasing the knowledge and understanding of employers, businesses and other service providing organizations to hire these newcomers.
On March 15, 2013, the Action Plan developed by KIS and our planning group was submitted. With minor changes, it was approved. We moved forward with the activities identified in our plan accordingly. There was an Open House held and attended by approximately 70 people on May 16th, and on June 5th we held our first large Action Plan activity: our Opening Community Dialogue, which was attended by approximately 55 people. The information collected through the Dialogue was then used to map out the remainder of the WCP so that we were engaging the community in a way they had identified as beneficial. You can view a summary of the WCP Opening Dialogue event hosted on June 5th, 2013 here: WCP Opening Dialogue Summary.
We then hosted an Elders Gathering on July 24, 2013 to bring together Elders and Knowledge Keepers of the various cultures living in Kamloops to provide further input on the project. We wanted to ensure that the planned activities were culturally appropriate from the perspective of many groups. It was attended by 12 people representing 6 different cultural communities. The summary of the Elders Gathering event can be found here: WCP Elders Gathering Summary.
Workshops were developed for the community to address the gaps/needs identified through the Opening Dialogue, Elders Gathering, and a community survey that was distributed in tandem with the first dialogue event. These workshops were made available to the community in the fall/winter of 2013. There were 3 sets of the Employer Workshops Series held, and one Community Engagement Workshop. The Employer Series was made up of 3 workshops and a networking event. They explored Diversity in the Workplace, HR & Diversity, and Language Barriers; while the Community Engagement Workshop looked at raising awareness of self and how we can interact with others in a positive way. One employer series was geared towards the public sector, and one towards the private sector. 34 participants representing various businesses, non-profits, government, cultural groups, and sectors participated in the workshops. If you were unable to join us, please find the workshop materials and resources on this page: WCP Workshops Materials.
Once the Workshops were completed, our plan brought the community back together at a second dialogue to report out, evaluate how successful the program was, and identify further recommendations and input for next steps. The Next Steps Dialogue took place on Thursday, January, 30th, 2014 from 10am – 3pm. It was attended by approximately 62 people and was hosted at the Parkside Lounge in the Interior Savings Centre. You can view the presentation that was given at the event here: WCP Evaluative Dialogue Presentation. The summary of the Evaluative & Next Steps Dialogue is available here: WCP Next Steps Dialogue Summary.
All of the information received through these community engagement activities have been compiled into a Recommendations Paper which can be found here: WCP Recommendations Paper. In addition to this, over the final weeks we developed informational sheets for distribution in the community to help dispel some of the myths and stereotypes that keep people from interacting with new immigrants in a meaningful way. You can access the 4 fact sheets on this page: WCP Fact Sheets(some translations available).
The materials and information developed by this program have been made available on the KIS website for on-going access; however, the program concluded on March 31, 2014. You can find all of the materials in the WCP Legacy Toolkit! (Please note that this is a very large file – 25MB). It is our hope that the community will use the information collected by the WCP to develop plans and proposals for programming, activities and supports that continue this important work.
If you have any questions about the Welcoming Communities Program, please contact our Executive Director, Paul Lagace, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 778-470-6101.
Previous versions of the program developed tools such as the website www.welcomethompsonnicola.com to provide rural communities with resources that will improve access to online immigrant services as well as contact information for immigrants in search of services in the region.
Moving to a new country is a challenging transition and we at Kamloops Immigrant Services acknowledge those efforts. Please help us welcome newcomers to Canada with a donation today.