Support for immigrant services appreciated

“It was exciting and fulfilling to see a community come together to fight … to keep a service they value.”

Editor:

I want to say a huge thank you to all of the people who fought so hard to keep immigrant services in Williams Lake.

Because of you, we are nearing the end of another successful year of language instruction for newcomers.

At the end of June classes will take a two-month break, but other settlement services will continue over the summer.

For those of you who are not sure what I am saying thank you for, here is a brief re-cap.

In February of 2017, the organization that had managed the contract for immigrant services in Williams Lake for many years announced that they would be closing our office at the end of March.

This was not a government decision, it was strictly due to some internal issues with the organization.

Sharon Taylor, Maryna Muzyka, and myself, the employees at the Williams Lake office, decided that we owed the community the courtesy of informing our clients and stakeholders that we were about to be closed.

Much to our surprise, this resulted in an organized and comprehensive protest, involving meetings, petitions, letters, e-mails, and phone calls to every level of government.

One day, we were approached by the contract manger for the federal government, asking if we thought a new organization could handle the contract. Obviously, we said “yes!”

In stepped the Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy, which had been running immigrant services in 100 Mile House.

As soon as we were allowed to come home after the evacuation, they set to work to make sure we would be operational, at our same location in Village Square Mall, by September.

Sharon has moved to Vancouver Island, but Maryna continues to look after the children, and I am still teaching the LINC program.

We were joined, first by Kim, then Lexie and Katya, who deliver settlement services to our clients.

We have been welcomed into the family of CCPL, which delivers many literacy and other programs in Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.

It has been a year of extreme learning for all of us, but we are still here, and it looks like we will continue to be here for the foreseeable future.

There are far too many people to thank for this success story.

It was exciting and fulfilling to see a community come together to fight with positive actions to keep a service they value, and to see the quick response of government and local organizations to meet these demands.

It has been a great year. Here’s to many more to come.

Susan Nelson

Immigrant

Services

Williams Lake

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