Fort St. John is known as a city that always has many people coming and going. However, sometimes the many different services within the community that provide services and support to immigrant people are forgotten.
Three local organizations were honoured on Tuesday, Nov 6, for their contribution in providing immigrant services and resources in British Columbia. S.U.C.C.E.S.S., Peace River North Settlement Workers in Schools Program (SWIS) and Fort St. John Literacy Society were given awards at the at the WelcomeBC celebration.
“It means a lot, it means that we are being recognized,” said Onose Oboh a settlement worker with S.U.C.C.E.S.S.
“Just because Fort St. John is far from most places and it’s a small town the fact still remains that it’s growing and it’s expanding… you have lots of immigrants coming in here.
“We were not expecting it, as an organization, so it came as a pleasant surprise,” noted Oboh.
S.U.C.C.E.S.S. provides immigration support services. Oboh explained that this organization has two parts, The Settlement program which is designed to help people settle into the community and the Welcoming Inclusive Community Program, which creates awareness of diversity and inclusiveness within the community.
Gail Lundquist, Program Coordinator for the Fort St. John Literacy Society explained that the Fort St. John Literacy Society is also excited to be recognized.
“The Fort St. John Literacy Society are very pleased to have received this award,” she said.
It is a non-profit organization that helps promote literacy for all individuals and groups throughout Fort St. John and the local region.
Literacy is something that Lundquist believes is an important skill for immigrants to possess in order to be able to settle into the community and to be able to experience what the community has to offer.
“It's important for newcomers to have basic English skills because they need it for their jobs, to talk to their child's teacher, (pretty much everything).”
Peace River North, Settlement Workers in Schools Program (SWIS) was the final organization to be included in this award. SWIS is a partnership with the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and the Ministry of Education and School District #60. The program has received funding that will go towards helping new students and their families become part of the school and the community.
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Pat Bell explained that he believes these services are essential and that it’s important they get recognized.
“Every year newcomers from around the world chose to call B.C. Home. WelcomeBC Day gives us an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate individual outstanding contributions and the hard work of organizations across B.C. to welcome immigrants into their communities,” said Bell.
The government invests $139.7 million through WelcomeBC during 2012 and 2013 in programs such as English language development, settlement and inclusive communities and labour market participation.