RISE Team recently had the honour of visiting an organizational leader in the field of Canadian resettlement services since its founding in 1981, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS). From former clients-turned-staff members to the CEO of the organization, nearly 50 CCIS leaders took time out of their busy schedules to give Neda and RISE Team crucial, expert feedback on early findings.
Our Friday afternoon talk was scheduled in the sunny and welcoming kitchen of CCIS' Margaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre (MCRC), with enough strong black tea, cake, and fresh fruit to keep everyone nourished through the conversation. CCIS staff offered feedback about our research with Syrian newcomers in Toronto, including ideas for more probes around issues like familial and intergenerational conflict, suburban/urban resettlement, and entrepreneurship.
In turn, we came away with incredible testimony and evidence of CCIS' work in Alberta to share back with RISE Team in Toronto. The staff of CCIS are experts who have directly resettled 4,000+ newcomers in Calgary. The organization has touched the lives of tens of thousands of others through wraparound services including community development and rural services and family and children's services. CCIS have been early leaders in the resettlement of Eritrean, Ethiopian, Nigerian, Syrian, Yazidi, and many many other newcomer groups-- in fact there are 94 different languages spoken among CCIS' clients! The MCRC, where our talk was held, is considered by newly-arrived refugees to be their 'first home in Canada' and provides supports including three meals a day, apartment-like accommodations, recreation and play for children, and basic needs services like laundry for clients for the first 14 days after landing. For more on MCRC and CCSI, see https://www.ccisab.ca/refugees/mcrc.html.
We are inspired and excited about CCIS' research partnerships with sociologists like UCalgary's Dr. Pallavi Banerjee and we can't wait to hear more about our new friends and colleagues in beautiful Alberta.
We sincerely thank CCIS (especially CEO Fariborz Birjandian and Manager of Resettlement and Integration Bindu Narula) and MARSS at University of Calgary for an unforgettable visit!