Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS)

Requesting $60000


Description of Need


As a Settlement agency with the primary responsibility for refugee resettlement in Calgary, CCIS is implementing a Coordinated Response Plan for the 2,400 newcomer clients that we consider to be the most vulnerable. These will be mostly refugees, and/or newcomers that have arrived within the last 24 months with a high degree of complex barriers, some of which include: trauma, exposure to family violence, barriers due to language and/or culture, food security, financial security, disabilities, mental health, and complex health needs. CCIS has developed 5 Response teams with a coordinated Intake Process that is open for referral. The Response Teams will be responsible for: determining relevant resources, identification of partners, implementation of response, and administrative support and follow up. In anticipating the needs of vulnerable individuals, and to best support Response Team, CCIS is requesting financial support that will go towards the following: direct emergency loans for clients, medication, food security (groceries +) supplies to keep our teams safe, 3 month salary support for individuals supporting the implementation response – interpretation, translation, logistics deliveries, liaisons, etc.


Our Story – Why We Exist

The CCIS Covid-19 Crisis Response was implemented in March 2020 in response to the expected influx of immigrant and ethno-cultural community members with immediate needs for support as a result of mandated business closures, self-isolation recommendations, and rising rates of illness in Calgary and surrounding communities. Covid-19 presented numerous challenges for all citizens with some notable barriers and exacerbating factors for some members of immigrant and ethnocultural communities with the greatest needs being: food security, essential needs, access to government supports, and housing security,

” CCIS was phenomenal. Access to information in home language was a major priority” (partner quote)

Through the CCIS Crisis Response, CCIS was able to support 2163 households to avert crisis, over 100 documents were translated into more than 25 languages. CCIS supported 233 direct referrals with 163 being Covid crisis related.  In total, more than 302 individuals were supported directly.

“Thank you so much to all the staff and all the team…they are like my second family” (client quote)

This response involved leveraging our relationships and the expertise of our colleagues in the space in order to effective realize cross-sector collaboration

“Because this is new, we learned along the way. We were open to changing process each time” (team member quote)

Our Impact – What We Do

CCIS is a non-profit organization which provides settlement and integration services to all immigrants and refugees in Southern Alberta. We are a community leader with over 40 years of solid experience in the design and delivery of comprehensive resettlement and integration services to refugees and immigrants.

Calgary and southern Alberta are recognized as the destination of choice for thousands of immigrants and refugees when they start their settlement journey in Canada.

To sustain this, we need to create a condition of success where immigrants and refugees can settle, and have the opportunity to integrate in all aspects of our community life. CCIS continues to be the leading social agency, with an entrepreneurial approach in all aspects of our business practice to initiate social enterprises, in order to decrease financial dependency, and create additional resources in order to address clients’ needs.

We pride ourselves in delivering these services through a dynamic multicultural, multilingual and multidisciplinary team of professionals, who collectively speak over 60 languages. This diversity enables us to provide our clients and the community with optimum assistance. We have over 1,500 volunteers who devote their time to helping newcomers. We offer a wide variety of specialized services that were designed to aid and enhance the integration process.

  • Mission: In partnership, we empower immigrants and refugees to successfully resettle and integrate
  • Vision: A society where immigrants and refugees can reach their potential
  • Values: CCIS believes in an environment which enhances self esteem and respect for all, that we all have a responsibility to build a healthy community, in a holistic approach to working with individuals and community, in constant attention, sensitivity, and flexibility throughout the ongoing process of relationship building, and in ethical practices.

The last seven years have been a time of tremendous change and growth and we are stronger than ever. Fariborz Birjandian (CEO) is unparalleled in his leadership and deep understanding of the needs of immigrants and refugees as they arrive in Canada. In 2014-15, we paid special attention to the plight of refugees in Syria and Iraq and have been able to support the sponsorship of a large number of refugees In 2021, CCIS was chosen as a Point of Entry for Afghans arriving to Canada.

Our facility has become a Centre of Excellence with state-of-the-art IT capacity, professional offices, classrooms, and meeting rooms, operating from 8am to 9pm, six days a week. It has been instrumental in accommodating the service needs of 500 clients each day, as well as providing office and meeting space to emerging ethno-cultural groups.

Our Programs – How We Do It

Business Employment and Training Services (BETS)  We excel in building relationships with private and public sectors, community agencies, and various adult education programs. Obtaining sustainable employment is a primary goal for the majority of the clients/students who attend the programs, and utilize the services delivered by BETS.

Our aim is to assist newcomers with the transition process by delivering programs that prepare individuals for economic independence within the realities of today’s Canadian workplace.

Community Development and Integration Services  We work towards empowering individuals and communities to make changes through education, volunteerism, and community development and integration strategies. The commitment of the Division is to create a welcoming community and help newcomers and the community alike to work together to build that inclusive community.

Family and Children’s Services  The Family & Children’s Services Division operates on a holistic, strength-based philosophy, to:

  • facilitate the integration of families and children into the community,
  • enhance the provision of services to newcomers by community resources,
  • strengthen families and the community, and
  • promote the healthy development of children.


Our Requests – What You Can Do

Don Wall began his volunteer journey by assisting a newcomer family to practice English.

It was through this family that Don met others who were also looking for help with English and information about life in Canada. In 1985, when CCIS introduced the Host Program, Don was among the first Host volunteers.

His first group consisted of three single men from El Salvador. When he took them on their first trip to the Rockies, one of them commented, “This is so beautiful; I am so proud to be Canadian.” Since 1985, Don has been hosting Christmas Day dinner at his home for those he has hosted or sponsored. 50 – 60 people attend each year.

Starting in 1991, Don also helped a shy young man sponsor his parents and four brothers. This family has expanded to 17 members and has become a miniature United Nations with spouses from the Czech Republic, Jamaica, Philippines, Iran and Korea. At the marriage of the youngest brother, Don was honored to be seated at the family table and was introduced to the reception attendees with the phrase: “If it wasn’t for Don, I wouldn’t be here.”

There are many that have been so touched with Don’s passion and sincerity that they have named their children after Don’s
parents, and refer to him as ‘My father in Canada’.

Don has been involved with many initiatives including hosting weekly social nights, offering temporary accommodations in his home for refugees, sponsoring refugees, helping to prepare refugee claims, filing taxes for newcomers, and conducting tax workshops, amongst others.


YOU CAN VOLUNTEER – These are some of our programs seeking volunteers:

  1. Community Connections for Newcomers
  2. Immigrant Youth Outreach Project (IYOP)
  3. Refugee Child Enhanced Integration Project (RCEIP)

YOU CAN CONNECT WITH US – A city-wide structure was required to prepare for an increased number of refugee arrivals, specifically those from Syria via Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. This resulted in the development of a Steering Committee, and eight (8) active sub-committees. Fariborz Birjandian is the Steering Committee Project Lead working collaboratively with Anoush Newman as Project Coordinator.

  1. Civic Support
  2. Community Engagement
  3. Education
  4. Employment
  5. Health
  6. Housing
  7. Initial Settlement
  8. Sponsorship & Group of 5


YOU CAN DONATE – We have been truly overwhelmed by the genuine outpouring of support from Calgary and the surrounding communities. We thank you for your generous support. A donations account has been established with 100% of all monetary donations going directly to providing assistance to the refugees destined for Calgary and area.

  • Other Donations – We are grateful for your generosity, however CCIS is currently unable to accept any clothing, food or furniture donations. We kindly encourage you to support a range of non-profit organizations in Calgary that regularly accept donations for all Calgarians in need, including refugees. Click here for non-profits who might help.


  • Gift Cards – Gift cards to grocery and department stores in Calgary offer similar flexibility to cash and ensure that Syrian refugees can choose items that best meet their needs. CCIS is pleased to accept gift cards on behalf of the refugees.


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Contact Info

Amanda Koyama



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Charity Number: #118823244RR0001

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