When the Al-Janabi family arrived from Syria in July of 2014, they were excited about the potential for a safe life in Canada. Then in December, they were given the devastating news that their 11 year son had been diagnosed with congenital heart defects.
The response was swift. He would need open heart surgery.
The family was terrified and contacted the CCIS wellness staff asking for support. The boy had many specialist appointments to attend, and the surgery was scheduled to be performed in Edmonton. New to Canada, with severe financial hardships and a significant language barrier, the family was apprehensive about the entire process.
CCIS provided a volunteer to accompany the family to all their appointments. We contacted Heart Beats Children’s Society in Edmonton to assist with transportation, accommodation and food. A social worker at Stollery Children’s Hospital helped to arrange interpretation and guidance during each step of the process.
When we called the father after the surgery to check on the boy’s status, he commented:
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 34 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.
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 sponsor a large number of refugees, in partnership with the Catholic Diocese of Calgary. We’ve also celebrated a number of milestone anniversaries in the last two years including:
Our new 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.
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:
Resettlement and Integration Services (RIS) Every year, thousands of immigrants arrive to Calgary with great futuristic ambitions for themselves and their families. As RIS understands the challenges that may be potentially faced by these hopeful individuals, we have developed programs that are aimed at assisting and supporting newcomers along their settlement process. Our programs continue to come to work towards increasing the ability of immigrants and refugees to enhance their economic independence by accessing services and resources, and enabling them to contribute to the social, cultural and economic vibrancy of Calgary.
A team of multicultural counselors provide settlement assistance in over 16 languages. Services are offered at CCIS’s main office, the Calgary International Airport, at the Margaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre, Shawnessy Library, Genesis Centre and SORCe.
Brooks & County Immigration Services (BCIS) BCIS is a project of Calgary Catholic Immigration Society providing settlement and integration services to all immigrants, refugees and temporary foreign workers. BCIS provides effective, appropriate and easily accessible services in the community of Brooks and the Newell County. We work towards making our newcomers feel at home in their new community.
Visit our website: www.bcis-brooks.ca
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.
THERE ARE 3 WAYS YOU CAN HELP:
YOU CAN VOLUNTEER – These are some of our programs seeking volunteers:
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.
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.