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Vancity provides $1 million to help build the world’s first fully-integrated refugee centre

For immediate release -- June 20, 2013

Vancouver, B.C. - In honour of world refugee day, the Immigrant Services Society of BC’s (ISSofBC) today announced they are one step closer to providing vital support services to refugees, thanks to a $1-million capital grant from Vancity to help build a new Welcome House Centre for refugees and immigrants.

The Centre, a fully integrated and coordinated regional service hub that addresses the immediate needs of government-assisted refugees and immigrants will be the first facility of its kind in the world. The 58,000-sq-foot Welcome House Centre is expected to open June 20, 2015, at 2610 Victoria Drive.

“This is an exciting time as we move forward to create a very unique facility for refugees as they build their new lives in Vancouver,” says ISSofBC CEO Patricia Woroch. ‘‘The centre will set a new international standard for how refugees are settled in their new homes, featuring a six-storey building that provides integrated services and support for refugees including health, education, housing, language and other settlement services.”

Andy Broderick, VP Community Investment at Vancity says the credit union’s goal to build healthy communities includes providing services to support immigrants and refugees to help them access appropriate financial services when they arrive in Canada. “For years we have understood the importance of such services not only to our newcomer and refugee members but to the communities where they live and work,” says Broderick. “We invest in financial literacy because we know literacy builds self-sufficiency and resiliency. We look forward to offering both financial supports and literacy workshops at the new Welcome House.”

Refugee Facts

Each year 35 million people are forced to flee their homelands to escape persecution, war or severe human rights abuses.

Canada is one of 28 counties to resettle approximately 100,000 refugees a year. Of that number, Canada annually takes in one out of every 10 through the government-assisted and privately sponsored refugee programs. In 2013 Canada plans to accept 14,500 refugees from abroad, representing 5.7 per cent of all permanent residents who will settle in Canada.

BC receives an average of 2,000 refugees each year. Between 2004 and 2008 a total 9,832 refugees arrived in B.C. Of that number:

• 42.7 percent (4,202) were government-assisted refugees;
• 32.2 percent (3,168) were refugee claimants;
• 13 percent (1,283) were refugee dependants; and
• 12.0 percent (1,179) were privately sponsored refugees.

About ISSofBC

Since 1972, ISSofBC has been providing a variety of support services for immigrants and refugees to help them get settled, find careers and learn all they need to know about starting their new lives in Canada. ISSofBC’s dedicated staff, volunteers and community partners provide settlement, education and employment services for over 23,000 clients every year. ISSofBC is the largest agency of its kind in Western Canada, with targeted programs for refugees, women, children and youth, plus support services in over 45 languages. Our programs and services are available throughout the Lower Mainland. Visit our website at Tweet us @issbc and connect with us on

About Vancity

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 492,000 member-owners and their communities through 57 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Squamish. As Canada’s largest community credit union, Vancity uses its $17.1 billion in assets to help improve the financial wellbeing of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy, sustainable communities. Member deposits enable the credit union to loan to other members, businesses and organizations that are creating positive economic, social and environmental impact in their communities. In addition, since 1994 Vancity has given more than $238 million to members through dividends and to communities through grants and community investment initiatives. Vancity is a Living Wage employer and a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, a network of the world’s leading sustainable banks sharing a commitment to achieving triple-bottom-line impact through responsible banking practices.

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Media inquiries:

Chris Stephenson | ISSofBC
T: 604-684-2561 ext. 1144

Lorraine Wilson |Vancity
T: 778-837-0394