Victoria welcomes Syrian refugees

Topics: Refugee Arrival
February 19, 2016

VICTORIA, BC - Feb 18, 2016: - Jean McRae – Executive Director, Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria; Kimberley Nemrava – Vice-President, Canadian Red Cross B.C. & Yukon; and Patricia Jelinski - Chief Executive Officer, United Way Greater Victoria jointly announced their plans to welcome up to 290 government-assisted Syrian refugees to Greater Victoria by the end of February and thanked the community for their generous support.

The Inter-Cultural Association (ICA) of Greater Victoria became a Sponsorship Agreement Holder in late August of 2015 to support the resettlement of privately sponsored refugees into Greater Victoria. Since that time, the community has generously donated more than $1,000,000 to ICA for privately sponsored refugees. In early February, ICA was approved to provide services to Government Assisted Refugees (GARs) under the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP).  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will be destining 290 Syrian refugees to Greater Victoria before month-end, and in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross, ICA will provide direct support and access to essential services for refugee newcomers. United Way Greater Victoria has assisted ICA with many of its community initiatives and continues to do so as the region prepares to resettle Syrian refugees into the area.

Canadian Red Cross will be supporting the refugee families in temporary accommodations and helping ensure they have access to immediate, basic services before they move on to their new communities. These could include emergency social and health services, creating safe and respectful environments, and helping families.


Hon. John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
"I am pleased to welcome the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria to our growing list of Resettlement Assistance Program communities across Canada. This is a truly national project - one whose success rests largely on the good and dedicated work of communities and organizations like yours."

Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour Shirley Bond:
“We have a long history of welcoming newcomers in our province and it shows in the generosity we’ve seen from British Columbians in every region. I’d like to thank all of the organizations and partners in Victoria and across the province for their hard work with this humanitarian effort.”

Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria Executive Director Jean McRae:
“ICA is very grateful to the Victoria community for their contributions and offers of support in welcoming refugees into the region. We have always believed that Victoria has the capacity to support a growing number of refugees and we are looking forward to continuing to work with residents and partners to facilitate a successful transition.”

Canadian Red Cross Vice-President B.C. & Yukon Kimberley Nemrava:
“The Canadian Red Cross has been supporting the Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s work with refugees over the last three years. Now, as Syrian refugees begin to transition into their new lives here in Canada, the Red Cross is proud to be supporting its partners to continue helping these families and individuals smoothly integrate into their new communities.”

United Way Greater Victoria CEO Patricia Jelinski:
“Since the federal government first announced its plan to welcome Syrian refugees, United Ways across Canada have been focused on areas where the non-profit sector must engage: resettlement, integration and inclusion. At United Way Greater Victoria we are particularly proud that we are able to respond when our community needs us most.  Today United Way Greater Victoria is delighted to continue its long standing partnership with ICA by stepping forward to provide funding to the organization to support the successful resettlement of refugees in our region. In addition, we would also like to recognize the tremendous work of the Canadian Red Cross as a partner in this initiative.”
Media contacts:
Lauren Kelly
Executive Assistant
Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria
T 250-388-4728 x 124 C 250-588-3846
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation
T 250 387-2799
Cheekwan Ho
Communications Manager
Canadian Red Cross | Croix-Rouge canadienne
T 250-995-3526 C 250-418-0739
Heather Skydt
Director Marketing and Communications
United Way Greater Victoria
T 250-984-2269
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Media relations line at 613-952-1650 or

The Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria assists immigrant and refugee newcomers to settle in the Greater Victoria area and to facilitate their inclusion and full participation in the community. ICA will support GARs by providing direct financial support as well as support for immediate and essential services such as language training and job programs; and will coordinate with service providers to assist with long-term housing placements, medical care, mental health services, and education. ICA has supported refugee newcomers since 1975 and will continue to offer a full suite of settlement services in addition to meeting obligations under the Resettlement Assistance Program.

Canadian Red Cross
As Syrian refugees begin to transition into their new lives in Canada, the Red Cross is providing a number of programs and services to help integrate these families and individuals. Working closely alongside government partners and community resettlement agencies, the Red Cross is ready to support refugees as they transition to their new communities.

The Canadian Red Cross has launched the Red Cross Refugee Buddy – an app aimed to supply refugees with information about their new place of residence. The app includes traffic and transportation tips, basic first aid instructions, tools to assist with translation, useful links and more. It also provides refugees with answers to some common questions they may have during the first period of their stay in Canada. The app is available in English, French and Arabic, and can be found for Android in the Google Play store by searching “Red Cross Refugee Buddy.”

The Canadian Red Cross is part of the largest humanitarian organization in the world and can call upon support from sister National Societies, if needed.

United Way
United Way ‘unites’ the generosity of people – business, labour, government and individual donors – with the skills, knowledge and expertise in our community to help those in need. This collaborative approach is building a stronger, more resilient community to serve current and future generations. 

 As the region’s largest non-government funder, we assist charitable organizations by identifying and funding programs to address immediate needs and underlying causes of our community’s most pressing social challenges.

 We are active in our community all year round through fundraising and community building, and provide multi-year funding to create a strong and stable network of services. For 79 years we have served this community and raised over $150 million.  Our work, as a community leader, is as relevant today as it ever was.  And with the ongoing support of our donors, we will continue to changes lives. Together, We Are Possibility.

How can people help:

The Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria recently developed a partnership with the Women in Need Community Cooperative (WIN), who have the resources and facilities to accept household items. Community members wanting to support refugee resettlement by offering in-kind donations are encouraged to contact WIN to coordinate drop-off times and locations.

Monetary donations can be made in-person at ICA’s main reception or online at

Monetary donations can also be made at your local Red Cross office, at, or by calling 1-800-418-1111 and should be earmarked Syrian Refugee Arrival Appeal. Donations will support families as they transition to their new lives in Canada.

For those wishing to make contributions to United Way Greater Victoria to help support the resettlement of refugees in Greater Victoria, please visit 
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