Vancouver welcome centre for immigrants and refugees opens its doors

June 5, 2016

CBC News | A new welcome centre in Vancouver for immigrants and refugees has opened its doors — in time for the arrival of a second group of government-sponsored refugees from Syria in the coming months.

The facility, which was built by the Immigrant Services Society of B.C., offers English language classes, employment and settlement programs, a mental-health program and more.

welcome centre

Chris Friesen of the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. said the Welcome Centre has mental health programs, and in future it will also have a primary health care clinic. (Vivian Luk/CBC)

“In this facility we have brought everything that a new immigrant or refugee would require for their first few months in this country,” Chris Friesen of ISS of B.C. told On the Coaststory producer Vivian Luk.

The finishing touches are still being put on parts of the building, and Friesen said that eventually the centre will also have a primary health care clinic and a range of programs specifically for youth, children and women.

The centre has residential units with 138 beds for government-sponsored refugees and while each residential unit has a number, it also features a word such as “perseverance.”

“We’ve also been very intentional about capturing an emotion or a feeling that an immigrant or a refugee would experience as part of their migration to Canada, and we’ve named each of the residential units after this,” Friesen said.


A view inside one of the suites available for government-assisted refugees in the Welcome Centre. (Vivian Luk/CBC)

The $24.5 million facility is located near the Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain station and the first family expected to arrive by June 12.

A public grand opening of the new welcome centre will take place later in June.

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