Cranbrook is officially now a “Welcoming Community.”
The Immigrant Welcome Centre opened this month at 19A 9th Avenue South. The centre is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., staffed by Settlement Worker Anna Jordan. The lead agency in Cranbrook and Kimberley is the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL). The grand opening is July 25 at 2 p.m.; the public is invited.
“This is a natural fit for our organizations as we already offer immigrants English as a second language training,” said Katherine Hough, the coordinator for CBAL in Cranbrook. “It is important to realize we offer these settlement services to anyone who has immigrated with in the past 10 years, not just those who are newly arrived.”
The Immigrant Welcome Centre in Kimberley has been open for a couple of months and Settlement Worker Pam Bailie is pleased with the number of people who have already used the service.
“We’ve helped people fill out forms for their school age children, accompanied a couple of individuals to various appointments, assisted with permanent resident card applications, figured out a few confusing phone bills, assisted with letters to government offices, and made telephone calls to Citizenship and Immigration Canada,” Bailie said. “We’ve also given information on how to find work through WorkBC, how to get a foreign degree accredited in Canada and how to find your way around the Nature Park.”
The project is multi-dimensional and there are many partners involved in both communities. The projects and events they have planned will roll out over the next 12 months. One example is the Cranbrook Public Library, which is inviting immigrants to come to the Library for the Newcomers Reading Club, Film Nights and Family Games Nights. Head librarian Ursula Brigl announced that they are also offering a “living library” with human books and what they term “a reverse travelogue” program.
The Cranbrook Centre is looking for volunteers. If you are a welcoming person and can volunteer a few hours a week please contact the office at 250-581-2112 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Training will be provided. The program is made possible through funding from the Government of Canada and the Province of BC.