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New options for immigrant settlement services across Canada and beyond

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Whether at libraries, educational institutions, community centres or online, Canadian organizations and federal, provincial, and territorial governments have been making great strides to provide exceptional settlement services to newcomers.  Here are some recent highlights.

This month, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Canada (CIMC) has infused new funding into immigrant settlement services in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, providing newcomers with more opportunities to succeed in Canada.

In Ontario, a new $1.9 million injection of government funding will create library settlement services in Brampton, Kitchener, Richmond Hill, Windsor, and London.  These will be based on the models currently set up in Toronto, Ottawa, and Hamilton.

In addition to serving as gathering places for recent immigrants, these libraries will provide group orientation workshops to help them research local housing, transportation, and employment opportunities.  There are also community outreach programs to inform newcomers about the variety of services and resources available in their region.

Focusing on immigrant youth and young adult newcomers, the Government of British Columbia (BC) has allocated $4.9 million to programs and projects in thirteen BC communities to help newcomers who are facing language and settlement barriers.

“Our government is committed to providing special support for older immigrant youth and young adults who face barriers that make it difficult for them to attend school or find employment,” said BC Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, Murray Coell.  “This investment will ensure that these young people have a way of connecting to the broader community and gain the self-esteem and confidence they need to pursue further learning or work.”

As of April 2009, these personal and group support services will help young adult immigrants to develop goals and plans achieve them; and to improve their education and work prospects through language training and employment support services.

Additionally, the province of BC has invested $1 million in community bridging services, which match immigrant youth with community volunteers during the settlement and adjustment period.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has also injected $2.3 million into immigrant settlement services at four organizations in Edmonton, Alberta.

In terms of online settlement tools, LoonLounge.com, the Canadian Immigration and Settlement Online Community, is now frequented by over 20,000 members.  Canadians, newcomers, and potential immigrants are connecting and exchanging information on LoonLounge; helping each other to improve the Canadian immigration and integration process.

Two new highlights are the Virtual Canada Explorer and the new “YES! You can become a Canadian!” trivia quiz.  The Virtual Canada Explorer is an interactive map that gives a tour of the country and tells you essential information about each region.  It is a tool that can help potential immigrants make their choice of destination in Canada.  The trivia quiz is an online game to test your knowledge of Canada – a fun way to learn more about the country.

LoonLounge’s slogan, “Building Canada Together,” is the purpose of settlement organizations across Canada.  Integration of settlement services across governments, municipalities, and the internet are helping this goal become a reality.

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