Community Connections | Inclusion, Citizen Engagement, Immigrant Newcomers
Living Standards | Work, Housing, Education And Learning

Immigrant Services Calgary

Established in 1977 as the Calgary Immigrant Aid Society, we are now one of Alberta’s longest serving and most comprehensive settlement agencies. We provide assistance and first language support to immigrants and refugee populations in over 140 languages.

Our Story

Why We Exist

We work to support newcomers like Lissell Himede. When love brought Lissell to Calgary from El Salvador, the process of getting recognized as a lawyer in Canada seemed daunting. “To be honest, I didn’t know what to do, where to go,” she says. Lissell learned of ISC’s mentorship program for professional women and quickly signed up. The wealth of knowledge her mentor passed along helped Lissell’s optimism blossom. “Sometimes when you don’t know about something, it seems impossible,” she says. “But the more you learn, you see it’s not as bad as you’d originally thought.” Now Lissell’s work at an immigration consultancy firm helps international business stars come to Canada and achieve their goals, making Canada a better place.

Mission: Immigrant Services Calgary is committed to being a comprehensive settlement agency working together with immigrants and their families to make Canada home.

Vision: Immigrants and their families participate fully in an integrated and cohesive Canadian society.

Values: We are passionate, collaborative, accountable, and ethical leaders in settlement services. We believe that people come first. We are committed to quality services for a diverse Canadian community.

Our Objectives: Immigrant Services Calgary is committed to being:

  • a well-managed, financially accountable, sustainable agency;
  • beneficiary-centred and accessed by those who need our services
  • a recognized leader with well trained staff and effective volunteers;
  • and engaged with our community.

Our Impact

What We Do

Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC) is a comprehensive settlement and integration agency that provides a wide range of programs and services to Calgary’s immigrant and refugee population.  Our mission is to be a comprehensive settlement agency working with immigrants and their families to make Canada home. Our vision is that immigrants and their families participate fully in an integrated and cohesive Canadian society. We are passionate, collaborative, accountable, and ethical leaders in settlement services.

We believe that people come first.

  • We are committed to quality services for a diverse Canadian community. Which is why our slogan, “A New Beginning – A Better Canada” recognizes the wealth that different cultures, genders, ages and abilities bring to Canada. Ours is a culture of respect, trust and equity, and our staff and management work together to promote a human rights culture that impacts our beneficiaries, our staff, our board and our volunteers.

ISC is governed by a Board of Directors from a diverse range of backgrounds and ages, and managed by a Chief Executive Officer. Our team is made up of a diverse group of over 130 full-time and part-time staff, and is bolstered by the assistance of over 1163 volunteers. Together, our staff and volunteers speak over 170 languages and have a diverse range of educational and experiential backgrounds and conduct their work with the utmost professionalism. In the 2016-2017, they worked together to support 30,580 beneficiaries and provide 1,129 workshops.

Our Results (2016-2017): 

Enhancing Accessibility – Recognizing the importance of making settlement services easily accessible to a diversified clientele, ISC has been establishing satellite offices at strategic locations in different quadrants of the city.

Enhancing Employability –   Rebuilding careers in Canada is a primary concern for skilled newcomers. Over the past four decades ISC’s settlement service has grown from a handful of counselor’s to a reputable Settlement and Language Bank Centre (SLBC) with a staff team of over 50. SLBC provides comprehensive settlement and integration services in over 50 languages to immigrants and refugees from more than 160 countries of origin.

The Voices of Calgary (VoC) is one of our milestone programs in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. VoC is a first-of-its-kind initiative funded by Alberta Labour’s Foreign Qualifications Unit. Brandishing the slogan “Globally Hired- Locally Hired”, the campaign produces and broadcasts videos of internationally trained professionals in Calgary who have made significant breakthroughs from struggles to success and features testimonials from Calgary employers who have benefited from hiring foreign talents.

Enhancing Cross-cultural Communication – Through the provision of interpretation and translation services, the Language Bank has helped to bridge language and cultural gaps, opening doors for many newcomers to access valuable employment and education opportunities as well as beneficial community resources and needed services.

Settlement and Language Bank Centre (SLBC) – Highlights of ongoing service:

  • 15, 128 beneficiaries served;
  • 30, 061 services provided
  • 161  countries of origin
  • 39, 074 volunteer hours

Our Story:

ISC began operating in 1977 as the Calgary Immigrant Aid Society (CIAS), when a group of concerned citizens decided to form a society to assist new immigrants. It began with volunteer staff in an office space donated by Mount Royal College and was the first incorporated settlement agency in the Calgary area. In 1981 and 1982 following increased funding from the government, CIAS began advocating for more ethno-cultural staff in mainstream agencies. Additionally, they began expanding public education and outreach activities and with an emphasis on providing first language supportive counseling to new immigrants.

In 1997, as part of its 20th anniversary celebration, the Calgary Immigrant Aid Society launched the first Immigrants of Distinction Awards (IDA) with Dr. Martha Cohen, Order of Canada, as the Honorary Chair. The Immigrants of Distinction Awards continue to this day, recognizing the diverse talents among newcomers to Canada as well as celebrating diversity in the workplace. These awards exemplify the agency’s commitment to promote the benefits of a diverse society. In 2007, as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations, Calgary Immigrant Aid Society became Immigrant Services Calgary.

We are dedicated to putting immigrants first and providing a range of services to help them settle into their new lives and community.

  • We remain committed to accessibility, community consultation, partnership and collaboration and the ongoing process of self-assessment and evaluation. These principles enable the agency to continue to creatively and effectively meet the diverse needs of an expanding immigrant and refugee population.

Our Programs

How We Do It

Three service departments work with immigrants and their families:

Settlement and Language Bank Centre

  • Support for newcomers to adjust to life in Canada
  • Information about community resources and referrals
  • Weekly group orientation sessions
  • Interpretation and translation services
  • Civic education and citizenship classes
  • Employment workshops, information, and programming
  • Volunteer opportunities for newcomers and Canadians
  • Mentorship opportunities
  • Community-based programs
  • Seniors’ program
  • Supportive counseling

Immigrant Language and Vocational Assessment-Referral Centre

  • Assessment of English proficiency and first-language literacy skills
  • LINC/ESL eligibility assessment, information and referral
  • Career, educational, and vocational planning
  • Referral to support services
  • Workshops and information sessions on skills training/bridging and upgrading programs, accreditation procedures, apprenticeship and other related topics

Mosaic Family Resource Centre

  • Pre- and post-natal programs
  • Early childhood and preschool programs
  • Literacy programs
  • Afterschool and Youth programs
  • Family support programs
  • Parent support groups
  • Counselling Services

Other work includes

  • First-language support
  • Advocacy
  • Public education
  • Community development
  • Pre-arrival support

Our Requests

What You Can Do

Work with us: Over our 40 years of operation, we have been dedicated to promoting diversity and multiculturalism within Calgary and the community, providing comprehensive support in their settlement and integration processes. That promotion starts from within our agency. Immigrant Services Calgary has a wonderfully diverse workforce. We are a nurturing agency that supports its employees to contribute their skills and unleash their potential.

Volunteer: Our programs are supported by our Volunteer Program. We have more than 1163 volunteers consisting of immigrants and non-immigrants alike. The Volunteer Program’s main goal is to promote the benefits of volunteerism in the community. Cultural sensitivity is a basic requirement for many of the volunteer positions such as Board Member, Cultural Translator, Cultural Interpreter, Employment Coach, Special Events, Children’s Program and Office Support Volunteers. We also have a Youth Volunteer Program that supports newcomer youth in their settlement and integration processes through civic engagement activities.

Become a member: For a small annual fee you can help support the objectives of Immigrant Services Calgary as a Member of the Society. All members are entitled to attend and cast one vote at the Annual General Meeting or other membership meetings of the Society.

Support the Immigrants of Distinction Awards: Many Calgarians follow news stories and read articles about famous Canadian immigrants, such as the former Governor General Right Honourable Michaelle Jean and the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson. At Immigrant Services Calgary we hear inspiring success stories of local immigrants and refugees every day. The Immigrants of Distinction Awards share the most exceptional of these stories. The awards tell of the enormous contributions that immigrants and refugees make to building our community and inspire the audience to do the same. Recognizing the recipients’ memorable achievements helps to combat stereotypes and prejudices and inform the greater community about the many barriers faced by newcomers to Canada.

Stay Connected


Faryal Nasir

Immigrant Services Calgary


Charitable Number: 118823640RR0001

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