Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016 Highlights @ CFN

2016 was an incredible busy, entirely transformative and deeply impactful year for the Centre for Newcomers. New partnerships and programs, along with fresh leadership and ideas, were combined with the stability, knowledge and experience that comes with three decades of dedicated service to the Calgary community. What resulted was a year like none before it.
What's New @ CFN from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

And so, although difficult to choose, below, in no discernible order, are the Top 5 CFN highlights for 2016.

1. The Volunteer-led Refugee Integration Project

In order to meet the demand of a larger influx of refugees accessing services at our Centre and respond to the offers of volunteer support from the community at large, the Centre for Newcomers created a volunteer-led response in April 2016. The response and support from the community was overwhelming. The Project offers the ability for refugees on wait-lists to still be in touch with the Centre, gain networking skills and learn about the community. . Volunteers are involved in the integration process through networking and building community with newcomers. Centre staff act as liaisons to assist the volunteers, coordinate efforts and invite refugee clients to activities and events.

2. World Refugee Day 

In June of this past year CFN held its World Refugee Day celebration to honour the courage, strength, and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict, and violence. We were proud to partner with Mennonite Central Committee who had their People on the Move: The Human Face of Migration display for viewing at the Pacific Place Mall during the month of June. Also, would like to thank the Aga Khan Foundation who presented their amazing "Together" exhibition at the event. Building on this, CFN also launched a city-wide Refugee Awareness Campaign to engage the broader community in showing their support for our fellow Calgarians by wearing an orange ribbon through the month of June.

3. Building Community Partnerships

CFN believes outreach work means playing the role of liaison between community members and not only our organization, but any who can help those in need get access to care and services. By extension, working collaboratively with community stakeholders is a cornerstone of CFNs mission. Over the course of 2016, CFN doubled its previous numbers by establishing 8 new formalized partnerships with community stakeholders for a total of 16. CFN very much believes the non-profit sector of Calgary is a family of caregivers, helping those who need it most, however and wherever we can. All of us here at CFN strive towards collaboration with our non-profit family, as in the end we are all here to help those who need it most, and by extension, help in making Calgary the best city in can possibly be for all who live here.

4, New Programs and Services 

-Indigenous Awareness Initiative-
Historic injustice and trauma have contributed to deep social, cultural, economic and spiritual challenges for Canada’s Indigenous people. Fewer newcomers to Canada understand these devastating and everyday experiences faced by our Indigenous community members. The CFN Indigenous Education Initiative seeks to support efforts aimed at ending cycles of systemic discrimination and abuse faced by Indigenous people through culturally appropriate educational workshops on indigenous issues, meaningful partnerships that seek to create alliances for public education and awareness among partners and within the broader community.

-Agricultural Program- 
As an addition to the Employment and Career Services programs, CFN is currently in the process of creating an employment training program for immigrants that addresses the shortfall of 26,000 employees in the Canadian agriculture market. Partnering with employers in the agriculture industry and the Calgary Stampede and receiving support from the MLA for Olds, we are exploring a potential partnership with Olds College to implement this program. This initiative is designed to match agricultural workers who have arrived in Canada, with suitable work here in the Calgary Area.  Small town, rural newcomers who worked as farmers in their homeland have skills to contribute to the Canadian community via farming.

-Domestic Violence Project- 
A newcomer woman abused by her spouse or partner may suffer forms of abuse unique to the newcomer experience. Immigration and sponsorship processes often put one partner in a position of power over the other. The reinforcement of power works as an imbalance and in favour of the abuser. Newcomer women also face particular barriers to accessing the services available to them. This often takes the form of lack of access to information on their legal right, as a result of isolation, language barriers and fear of losing their children or even their immigration status.  Working in collaboration with the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective, the University of Calgary`s Gender Studies Program & the Alberta Council of Women`s Shelters, CFN seeks to address these issues.

LGBTQ Awareness Program 
There is clear absence of knowledge in newcomer populations on LGBTQ issues in Canada, which in turn poses a problem for individuals, workplaces and communities absorbing newcomers across the country. The outcome can be twofold - either educating those who may discriminate against members of the LGBT community, along with addressing the lack of knowledge of LGBTQ immigrants themselves will carry upon their arrival in Canada. Many LGBTQ newcomers come from countries where they have faced overt discrimination, violence and persecution as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In almost 80 countries, LGBTQ persons are still criminalized for who they are, how they look or whom they love. The goal of this imitative is to address this gap.

-Youth Possibilities Program- 
The 21-week full-time program funded by The Government of Canada's Skills Link Program is for immigrant youth, or first generation Canadians, who have not yet been successful in work or school in Canada.  Youth clients are supported to develop and begin to act on a career plan, to develop Life Skills and Employability Skills, and to practice their skills in a supported work placement with a local employer. With these supports, participants develop the skills to enter and succeed in the labour market.   Those in attendance will receive training in Group-based Employability Skills as well as a 12 week paid work experience program. Immigrant youth and refugees who face barriers to employment are supported to develop their employability, communication, interpersonal and teamwork skills to a level where they can enter the labour market or engage in career-focused education.

5. CFN Communications Opens for Business 

During the 3rd quarter of the 2016-2017 fiscal year CFN established a Communications Department and Social Media engine charged with increasing brand awareness.  Near daily correspondence with clients, employees and external stakeholders were established to keep people informed of society events, initiatives, and developments as well as events and happenings within the community at large. Further still, strategies were created to increase employee awareness and promote productivity. The Blogger platform was initiated, Instagram was opened and the already established, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were engaged at a capacity not before utilized.  CFN Productions was also established to fuel communication platforms with content, with nearly 20 original productions highlighting the mission and vision of CFN already filmed and released to the public at large by 2016's end. 

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