Monday, February 6, 2017

Newcomers and refugees continue building their lives in Calgary

Hundreds of newcomers and refugees met new faces at “Building a Life in Calgary”, an event designed to connect them to City and community resources, services and programs.

The event, which took place on Saturday, February 4 at the BMO Centre, was hosted by the Calgary Local Immigration Partnership (CLIP). “Building a Life in Calgary” is part of CLIP’s ongoing response for refugee resettlement in Calgary.

It was day of learning and family friendly activities for the attendees, most of whom arrived in Calgary in the past year or so. Attendees participated in many activities, including:
  • A cultural exchange with newcomers from Vietnam, South Sudan, and Colombia who shared their experiences settling in Calgary 
  • Educational workshops about volunteer opportunities, career development, English language supports, and financial literacy
  • A resource fair featuring City business units and community organizations, and  
  • Family-friendly activities, including cultural performances and wagon rides and crafts, courtesy of the Calgary Stampede. 

Honouring the victims of the Quebec City shooting

At  1 p.m., attendees gathered together to observe a moment of silence to honour those who were injured or killed during the Quebec City mosque attack on January 29.

“We send our deepest condolences to the families, friends, and communities of the victims,” said Jessica Pauletig, an issue strategist with Calgary Neighbourhoods who helps coordinate The City’s role in CLIP.

The moment of silence was followed by a performance by the Calgary Multicultural Orchestra (CMO), a youth program run by the International Avenue Arts & Culture Centre.

A smile means ‘welcome to Canada’

Afran Hajj Hammoud and Nour Yassin, two youths who arrived from Syria last February, helped to emcee the cultural performances. Nour, who didn’t speak English when she first arrived and is now attending high school, describes her first year as amazing.

“Our lives are getting better every day,” said Nour. “I don’t feel like I’m just a Syrian refugee – everyone has been so helpful.”

Afran, who arrived with her husband, brother-in-law and two young children, adds: “I love how everyone smiles here. That smile means ‘welcome to Canada’. It means everything to me.”

Approximately 1150 refugees arrive in Calgary each year. From November 2015 to March 2016, Calgary also received an additional 1400 Syrian refugees as part of the federal government's response to the global Syrian refugee crisis.

About the Calgary Local Immigration Partnership

The Calgary Local Immigration Partnership (CLIP) is a multi-sectoral partnership designed to help improve the integration of immigrants and strengthen the city’s ability to better integrate and address the needs of newcomers. The Government of Canada works with municipalities to establish local immigration partnerships across Canada. For more information about CLIP, visit

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