Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Pat Bell proclaimed Nov. 6 WelcomeBC Day in B.C. at the annual WelcomeBC celebration, and announced the recipients of four awards, recognizing the exceptional contributions to this province by immigrants, immigrant services and other supporters.
Awards were presented to two immigrant entrepreneurs and to two immigrant-supporting groups and agencies.
Individual award winner Yoon Bok Park immigrated to B.C. from Korea, and since 2011, grew Lucky 6 Industrial Co. in Chilliwack into a successful business with future plans for expansion. The second individual winner is U.S. immigrant Alexandra Loeb, who left a vice-presidency with Microsoft to start Joyride Bike Parks, which designs and constructs mountain bike trails for municipalities and for events such as Crankworx 2011 and Red Bull Rampage 2010.
Community winners Campbell River and Fort St. John have multiple groups working together to provide immigrant services and resources, making their communities more welcoming to newcomers. Campbell River is represented by the Multicultural and Immigrant Services Association of North Vancouver Island, North Island College's English Language Services for Adults (ELSA) program and the Campbell River Community Literacy Association. Fort St. John is represented by S.U.C.C.E.S.S, the Peace River North Settlement Workers in Schools Program (SWIS) and Fort St. John Literacy Society.
WelcomeBC Day was proclaimed for the first time in October 2010. WelcomeBC brings together a strong network of settlement programs and services across the province for newcomers and immigrants to access free language training, settlement and labour market services.
Through WelcomeBC, the B.C. government will invest $139.7 million in 2012/13 in English language training, labour market participation and community inclusion programs. The funding breakdown includes:
- $67.4 million for adult English language development.
- $47.9 million for settlement and inclusive communities.
- $24.4 million for labour market participation.
Funding for WelcomeBC is provided through the Canada-British Columbia Immigration Agreement.
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Pat Bell -
"Every year newcomers from around the world choose 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 in to their communities. Investing in our newcomers, we are also investing in the future of our province."
- B.C. welcomed over 35,000 new immigrants from over 170 countries in 2010/2011.
- The BC Provincial Nominee Program was introduced in 2001 to increase the benefits of immigration to British Columbia by allowing the provincial government to nominate foreign workers and entrepreneurs for accelerated permanent resident status based on labour market and economic development needs and priorities. More than 14,000 entrepreneurs and skilled and semi-skilled workers have been attracted to the province through the BC PNP.
- Over the next decade, British Columbia's Skills for Growth Strategy projects 1.1 million job openings due to economic growth and retirements
Watch videos about this year's award winners: http://www.youtube.com/user/WelcomeBCca
WelcomeBC Settlement and Integration Services 2011-12 annual report: http://www.welcomebc.ca/wbc/about.page
BC Provincial Nominee Program: www.welcomebc.ca/pnp
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Ministry Responsible for Labour
A backgrounder follows.
WelcomeBC Day Award Winners
Yoon Bok Park, Lucky 6 Industrial Co. Ltd
Originally from Korea, Yoon Bok Park is a successful entrepreneur. His sixth start-up, Lucky 6 Industrial Co., manufactures plastic bottles for medical supplements and supplies. Park renovated an industrial property in Chilliwack, working with the local municipality and suppliers to customize it for his business operation. Lucky 6 Industrial Co. is already making plans for expansion and prospecting for investment partners.
Alexandra Loeb, Joyride Bike Parks Inc.
After a successful career as a vice-president with Microsoft Corporation in the United States, Alexandra Loeb, along with her husband Ethan Meginees, started Joyride Bike Parks Inc. through the economic immigrant stream of British Columbia's Provincial Nominee Program. Located in Rossland, the company constructs mountain bike trails for four-season resorts and municipalities. In their first year of operation, they executed the following major contracts:
- Cranworx at Whistler-Blackcomb
- A multi use community trail for the City of Rossland
Joyride has also developed a relationship with Red Bull for sponsorships of mountain biking events. See Joyride's website for links to videos and pictures of their projects: www.joyridebikeparks.com
Fort St. John
S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is an established agency with strong connections and working relationships in Fort St. John. It has developed the systems to support and encouraged secondary migration of new immigrant job seekers and their families to the community.
S.U.C.C.E.S.S. has also worked at developing mentoring relationships and cross training with other settlement and non-settlement service providers and has also been delivering Welcoming Inclusive Community and Workplaces Program (WICWP) activities since 2008, which promote newcomer engagement and creating welcoming and inclusive communities.
School District # 60 - Peace River North: Settlement Workers in Schools Program (SWIS)
A partnership with the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and the Ministry of Education, School District # 60 has received funding to help newcomer students and their families to settle, adjust and integrate into school life, and the community.
The SD#60 SWIS program has been helping families and the school system to develop cross-cultural understanding and has seen a marked increase in newcomer students' confidence in school and community life.
Fort St. John Literacy Society
The Fort St. John Literacy Society is a non-profit organization that has been dedicated since 1990 to promoting literacy for all individuals and groups throughout Fort St. John and the local region.
Providing English as a Second Language Settlement Assistance Program (ESLSAP) services for immigrants, their program offers free, volunteer-driven ESL tutoring and small group activities. The volunteer tutors help clients learn English while getting to know their new community. The Literacy Society acts as advocates for its learners, and contributes to the integration of newcomers by addressing language barriers and improving literacy.
Multicultural and Immigrant Services Association of North Vancouver Island
The Multicultural and Immigrant Services Association (MISA), also known as the Immigrant Welcome Centre of Campbell River, has been delivering settlement services to newcomers since 1992.
MISA has built a reputation of expertise on providing services for newcomers and supporting service providers in delivery of services:
- MISA has recently signed the Immigrant Welcome Centre Alliance with three other immigrant serving agencies on Vancouver Island to share resources and create a stronger branding message to link with newcomers in the area.
- MISA's Welcoming Inclusive Community Programs (WICWP) has been working on increasing newcomer engagement and promoting a welcoming and inclusive community since 2008.
As a publicly funded institution, North Island College has provided English Language Services for Adults (ELSA) services in Campbell River region for six years. Qualified and experienced instructors support language acquisition in a progressive and stimulating learning environment.
North Island College's ELSA program has developed strong ties with key immigrant services providers in the community, including the Multicultural & Immigrant Services Association and the Campbell River Community Literacy Association.
Campbell River Community Literacy Association
Campbell River Literacy Association has been delivering the internationally recognized ESL Settlement Assistance Program (ESLSAP) since 2006. The program supports immigrant and refugee newcomers with over forty community members trained as ESL tutors.
The ESLSAP coordinator guides participants in creating their individual learning plans. Participants are then matched with volunteer tutors and also invited to take part in group activities such as English Practice Groups.
The Campbell River ESLSAP is based on a partnership agreement with North Island College, and program participants frequently transition to more formalized learning opportunities. With the close collaboration among service providers, can also access a range of services to assist with their integration into their new community.
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Ministry Responsible for Labour