Each week Get In The Know scours the web for news and events related to immigration and newcomer settlement and employment and shares its findings here!

The news and events focus on what’s happening in Surrey and surrounding communities but, when relevant, you will also find news and events at a provincial and national level. To stay current with newcomer issues, visit each week and subscribe to our weekly bulletin.


Halifax researcher says lifestyle, jobs key to boosting Nova Scotia’s immigrant retention
Posted June 17, 2018 | news

By The Star |

A professor at Saint Mary’s University says the key to retaining immigrants in Nova Scotia is being able to offer meaningful employment, and sell them on “the smell of the sea.”

Ather Akbari, chair of the Atlantic Research Group on Economics of Immigration, Aging and Diversity, said Nova Scotia’s 75 per cent retention rate can be improved by providing greater economic opportunity.

“The retention of immigrants depend on many factors, including what reception they get in the community, lifestyle, presence of similar communities, immigrant communities and also availability of jobs,” Akbari said in an interview.

“So whatever focus groups I have done, I found that all these are important issues, but if people were given a choice to live either in Nova Scotia to go to another province, if they have a job offer, then they would prefer to stay in Nova Scotia.”

Akbari will be presenting some of his findings Thursday as part of the International Conference in Intercultural Studies taking place at Saint Mary’s until Saturday. His talk, titled “In-Migration and Out-Migration: Atlantic Canada at a Crossroad,” will analyze 2016 census data to provide insights on immigrant mobility in Canada.

While Nova Scotia’s immigrant retention rate is the highest in Atlantic Canada, it’s lower than the rest of the country. Alberta leads the country with a 97 per cent retention rate followed by British Columbia with 90 per cent and Ontario with 86 per cent.

Prince Edward Island has the country’s worst retention rate, an abysmal 39 per cent, followed by New Brunswick with 60 per cent and Newfoundland and Labrador with 71 per cent.

Akbari said the reason Nova Scotia is lagging behind the rest of the country is the same reason it is the best rate in the Atlantic region: jobs. Economic opportunity and the ability to be close to a similar cultural community are the largest factors in inter-province migration.

Nova Scotia’s retention rate has almost doubled since the early 2000s when it hovered around 40 per cent, something Akbari attributes to the provincial government realizing it needed an influx of immigrants to keep the population steady in the face of falling birth rates.

“To attain economic growth we need people,” he said.

“People who are buyers of goods and services, who are workers, who also provide new ideas for scientists, geniuses, philosophers, all this is important for innovation. So in order to address this matter we need to either engage the local population for higher fertility rates or we resort to immigration.”

Akbari says the province needs to sell immigrants on the particular lifestyle Nova Scotia can offer in order to get closer to the top three provinces’ retention rates.

“First we have to educate the resident community about the benefit of immigration so that we develop a more welcoming community here and also promote the province, promote the lifestyle, that it is different from other provinces,” he said.

“In Atlantic Canada there is a different lifestyle. There is a different environment, people like the smell of the sea. People like how welcoming the community is.”

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Stories of shoes lace immigrants from around the world together in Vancouver
Posted June 13, 2018 | news

By Becca Clarkson, Vancouver Sun |

Would you be able to condense your life story into 600 words and narrate it in your second or third language to a room of strangers?

That’s what 12 female immigrants will do for the Shoe Project: Walk in Their Shoes — a writing workshop-turned-performance piece making its West Coast premiere at the Museum of Vancouver, June 22. (more…)

Boom or bust, immigrants are choosing Alberta — and they’re thriving
Posted June 12, 2018 | news

By Ameya Charnalia, Edmonton Star | (more…)

Refugee women scholarship in honour of MOSAIC’s Eyob Naizghi
| news

By Canadian Immigrant Magazine |

Eyob Naizghi, longtime executive director of MOSAIC, will be stepping down from his role with the Vancouver-based immigrant-serving agency at the end of June 2018. In tribute, MOSAIC has established a new scholarship for refugee women called the Eyob G. Naizghi Scholarship Award.

The $5,000 award will be granted annually to a refugee woman leader to pursue academic or vocational post-secondary education. Whether her leadership was highlighted in a refugee camp or in Canada, or by mobilizing people anywhere in the world, this scholarship will support her future leadership aspirations in Canada.

Naizghi has been at the helm of the organization since 2001, and has served the organization for more than 25 years in total. He came to Canada as a refugee from Eritrea, an experience that has guided his work with MOSAIC over the years.

Click here to learn more about the scholarship.

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Entrepreneurial refugees enrich Vancouver’s dining scene
Posted June 11, 2018 | news

By Denise Ryan, Vancouver Sun |

At a long table in a West End Vancouver home, three Syrian women are dining Canadian style: A man is cooking for them.

Hasne Omer, Ragdha Hasan and Maha Alambarabar, Syrian refugees and cooks for the hottest meal ticket in town, Tayybeh, don’t often have someone else doting on them, but tonight is different. For the occasion, they have donned their best hijabs, a colourful array of peach, gold and white.

Their host, Lev Richards, a fellow Syrian and recent arrival to Canada, has also started a food business, Pistachio Catering, serving Syrian specialties through catered dinners in private homes. Cooking for the matriarchs of Tayybeh is high-stakes: He’s been prepping for days.

“Do you think we should go help him in the kitchen?” someone jokes in Arabic. The women erupt in laugher.

“This is an occasion,” explains Nihal Elwan, founder of Tayybeh: A Celebration of Syrian Cuisine, which hosts pop-up dinners and Syrian catering events. “They are not used to being guests.”

Richards and his guests are among a growing number of Syrian refugees in the Lower Mainland who have found a niche cooking for others with the flavours of the country and culture they left behind.

Since 2015, B.C. has welcomed 4,400 Syrian refugees. Many among them are finding that food and food businesses are a pathway to work, and settlement, when other doors are closed.

Food is inextricably bound up in cultural identity, and offers a gateway for understanding, acceptance and interaction — food is a language that can be exchanged and understood without words. It is also deeply personal.

Tayybeh began in October 2016 when Elwan used a $500 Vancouver Foundation grant to create a pop-up dinner catered by recent Syrian refugees. Since that first dinner, Tayybeh has garnered national headlines, won Vancouver Magazine’s 2017 Foodies of the Year award, and changed the lives of the women who make the food.

“I had no idea what it would become, or that two and a half years later it would become my life,” says Elwan, who comes from Egypt, and worked on issues related to gender equality before founding Tayybeh.

She now runs the bustling operation from a commissary kitchen near Main Street, employing six female cooks, plus a raft of drivers, dishwashers and helpers of all genders. The enterprise, she says, has become a family. For the women that come to cook every day, success isn’t just measured in paycheques or public acclaim. It’s also been about finding a new community.

“We always had tears in our eyes for what we left behind. For our families. Since we started working, it’s nicer than before,” explains Omer, speaking in Arabic.

“Now we don’t have to think about all the things we left behind,” adds Hasan.

Their new careers have also meant changes in the family structure: Alambarabar’s husband is learning to cook. “He made a chicken!” she exclaims, to a chorus of laughter and disbelief. “He has to feed the children when I am not there.”

Immigrants are 30 per cent more likely to start a business than Canadian-born citizens, and refugees report higher rates of self-employment than their immigrant and Canadian-born counterparts, recent research by Immigrant Services Society of B.C. shows. Food service is one of the areas they are most likely to enter.

Figures provided by Jack Jedwab at the Association for Canadian Studies show that in 2016, 14.9 per cent of refugees in Canada were self-employed.

Mustafa Koc, a Ryerson University professor and food sociologist, says there is a long and rich history of refugee influence on the Canadian food landscape. “Each refugee wave, when they come in, most of them do not speak the language or have the skill set to enter into the labour market within the first year or two. Entering the work market through food, they find some space there.”

When refugees enter the food business out of necessity, they also introduce their culture to Canada through the food, says Koc.

“Syrian refugees who can’t speak the language find a way of showing their appreciation and gratitude to their host society through food, which is a very important step in integration,” says Koc.

“When people accept your food, it is an interaction, a welcoming, and for us, a way of showing them that they are welcomed. Food is a language, and we can speak it with each other.”

Food is a cultural gateway. “We are afraid of new foods, but excited and curious about them. We are all scavengers, our ancestors were always on the hunt for something new, something edible, so we are always curious.”

Refugee food traditions tend to be homey and affordable, says Koc, mentioning the emergence of Hungarian and Vietnamese cuisine during previous refugee arrivals. “Most are mom and pop operations,” says Koc. “It’s not expensive to try and our curiosity finds its match there.”

Read more

Join Surrey Immigrant Advisory Roundtable
Posted June 10, 2018 | news

Live in Surrey? Interested in making Surrey more welcoming and inclusive? Join Surrey IAR! Deadline to apply is June 27.

The Surrey Immigrant Advisory Roundtable (IAR) is looking for immigrants and refugees interested in joining the group. This is a unique opportunity to participate in the initiative that aims to build a truly welcoming and inclusive Surrey. Download the Application.

The Surrey IAR is looking for FIVE (5) additional members who:

  • Are immigrants or refugees living and/or working in Surrey
  • Represent the diversity of Surrey (a range of countries of origin, length of time in Canada, immigration status, age, gender, occupational/educational backgrounds, etc.)
  • Have experience, knowledge and, abilities related to immigration integration, community development or civic engagement,
  • Can commit sufficient time to be active volunteers of the group, and
  • Are non-partisan

Members will be appointed for a period of 12 months (July 2018 – July 2019) and will be expected to meet at least 6 times a year. Additionally, members are expected to spend at least additional 8 hours a month to attend the training, participate in Surrey LIP Working Groups and attend the IAR ad-hoc meetings. Please review current IAR membership, activities and meeting agendas here.

S.U.C.C.E.S.S. immigrant agency turns 45
Posted June 8, 2018 | news

By Canadian Immigrant Magazine |

Vancouver-based immigrant serving agency SUCCESS has turned 45. For its longstanding service, Senator Mobina Jaffer, MP Jenny Kwan, Senator Yonah Martin, Minister Harjit Sajjan, Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, MP Alice Wong and Senator Yuen Pau Woo co-hosted a delegation from SUCCESS at an event on Parliament Hill last week. (more…)

Asylum seekers who crossed the border into Quebec now finding their way into Manitoba
Posted June 6, 2018 | news

By CBC News |

Manitoba is beginning to see a wave of secondary refugee migration coming to the province from Quebec. (more…)


The Long Long Table
June 26 @ 5:00 pm | event
Canada Post Hiring Session (Newton)
June 27 @ 9:00 am | event
Whalley WorkBC Hiring Fair
June 29 @ 1:00 pm | event
Surrey Job Fair 2018
June 30 @ 10:00 am | event
Youth Multicultural BBQ
June 30 @ 4:00 pm | event
Surrey Canada Day
July 1 | event
TJX Companies Info Session & Hiring Fair ( Newton)
July 4 @ 9:30 am | event
Fusion Festival
July 21 | event
Social Innovation Leadership: From Thought to Action
September 15 @ 8:00 am | event
Vancouver Canadian Immigrant Fair
November 13 @ 10:00 am | event