Welcoming Communities Summit: WELCOME 2016 was held at the Okanagan College on June 17th and 18th 2016.
Immigrant integration requires commitment on the part of immigrants and refugees to adapt to life in Canada, and a commitment from Canadians as employers, educators, politicians and community to welcome and embrace new population and cultures. WELCOME 2016 builds on this dialogue and provided an opportunity to extend the awareness and reach out to the community to participate and share directives that we can all influence.
With the support of a keynote speaker, panel discussions and 13 presenters, all leaders in their fields, we offered eight breakout sessions covering a range of topics. Dialogue ranged from employment strategies, regional history, reforms and future directions for immigration law, entrepreneurial opportunities in local communities, healthy lifestyles through sports, resettlement efforts for refugees, characteristics of a welcoming community, and more. Relevant speakers were gathered from across the province, experts in their fields, providing access to varied perspectives throughout this two-day event.
We were pleased to also display, during the summit, a Photovoice exhibition, piloted by new Canadians who immigrated from across the globe to the Okanagan. Each participating [immigrant] photographer captured the images that represented various themes related to health and wellbeing, including safety and security, social support, professional identity, cultural changes and identity.
The overall objective of the SOS LIP Council is to enhance collaboration, coordination and strategic planning at the community level, thereby fostering more welcoming and inclusive communities while improving settlement and integration outcomes. In support of this goal, the Welcoming Communities Summit provided an opportunity to extend our reach into the community. Approximately 130 were in attendance, including employers, politicians, service agencies, immigrants, educators and the general public.
With the success of the summit, we look forward to the exchange of dialogue to follow in the coming months.