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Supporting Newcomers with Connection and Learning

Much work is underway across the District to support children and their families who are new to Canada.

Immigrant Parents as Literacy Supporters

An eight-week program to help immigrant families in Burnaby is happening at Maywood Community School. Immigrant Parents as Literacy Supporters is designed to help immigrants set their children up for success in school.

Children join in play-based activities that support literacy and numeracy in the early years. The program, also known as IPALS, is offered in the families’ first language twice per year. The current session at Maywood is translated in Mandarin, with sessions in the new year to be held at the Mosaic Family Centre and translated in Tigrinya and Farsi.

The long-running program in the District is put on in partnership with Decoda Literacy. Alongside attending IPALS, many parents are also learning English in the District’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. IPALS provides an additional opportunity for families to support one another in friendship, building a stronger sense of community as they settle in Canada.

Settlement Workers in Schools

More than 4,000 newcomers were supported by the District’s Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) program last year.

SWIS workers offer resources, help, and connections with community in a variety of ways. Often, they provide support in people’s first language.

Settlement Workers, school staff, and community members organized a multicultural event. It brought together families at Edmonds Community School in celebration of one another’s cultures and included Fijian and Middle Eastern cuisine – such as Lebanese, Iraqi and Syrian. Two Arabic speaking SWIS workers were there, with more than 100 people in attendance, including volunteers from the community who helped with food preparation, decorations and music. The event was put on with support from the United Way.

Recently SWIS workers led a field trip for immigrants and refugees from several countries to connect with one another and the land. The family activity was held at Capilano River Regional Park with sponsorship provided by the Metro Vancouver Regional Parks Foundation.

Support is provided by the SWIS program throughout the year for families, such as a workshop that was held in the summer for students and families who fled the war in Ukraine. Together, they made traditional flower crowns to mark Ukrainian Independence Day.

Connection clubs run by volunteer teachers and held at Burnaby Public Libraries on weekends have provided additional ways for Ukrainian newcomers to come together, support one another, and share learnings.

Read More

Ukrainian teens get help with stress, anxiety at Burnaby pilot program
Burnaby Now, February 13, 2023

Cultural Traditions and Practices Honoured
May 2023

Ukrainian refugee families find friendship, support through B.C. reading club
CTV News, August 13, 2022

Honouring Community Traditions and Practices
May 2022

Help for Refugees Dealing with Trauma
April 2022

District and Partners Support Refugees with Technology
December 2020

District Recognized for Supporting Immigrants & Refugees
September 2020


Posted December 2023