Inter-Connections: Profiling Black Excellence / Nathan Smith

"I went home that night and made self-portraits to remind myself that I wasn't a scary person."

Dressed for an evening out and walking in downtown Victoria on December 30, 2017, Nathan Smith was racially profiled by a couple who had stepped out onto the street and were walking a little ahead of him. As their body language tensed, he became aware, and hurt, by the fact that his presence, the presence of a black man walking behind them, made them uncomfortable and nervous - nervous enough to hastily jaywalk across busy streets in order to remove themselves from the perceived threat.

While contemplating the idea of sharing his experience through social media, Smith realized he was probably not the only person in Victoria to have this kind of experience, so he started approaching other people of colour, asking them about their experiences with race, racism, and racial profiling in their city.

Throughout much of its history, Victoria has been a predominantly white city, but over the last few decades, the city has experienced significant growth in cultural diversity. Many newcomers have found a welcoming and inclusive community here, so it could be easy to think that racism isn't an issue here - but it is.

"From the outset of this project, I knew I wanted the focus of the project to be on other black people. This is partly because I feel we're somewhat underrepresented in the arts community here on the West Coast and partly because of my own experiences and wanting to interact with more black people on a deeper level. However, despite having a focus on black people, I've wanted to be inclusive of other people of colour, as many of them have also had experiences of racism or racial profiling."

Born of mixed race in Toronto, Nathan was raised in Jamaica where he was actually considered to be a "white boy," until returning to Canada as a young adult, where he was now seen as black, shifting his cultural and racial dynamic.

Now as a Victoria-based portrait photographer, he is working to bring the conversation around racism to the table and combat the silencing that tends to happen when people of colour share their experiences with a white friend. The most common responses they hear are things like, "Are you sure it was racially motivated?" or "I'm sure this was an isolated incident." But as the scope of Smith's project expands, it's becoming quite clear that these are not isolated incidents and that we still have a long way to go in the fight against systemic racism in Canada, as well as here in Victoria.

Learn more about Nathan Smith's project Profiling Black Excellence.

Inter-Connections  is produced by Quinton Gordon, Manager - Strategic Engagement at ICA, to profile and highlight people working within our community to actively create and support a safer, more inclusive and diverse community.  We invite your comments by email to  Quinton Gordon .  

Open Call for im:print 2019
Submitted by  Paulina Grainger, Arts and Outreach Coordinator

ICA is creating im:print, an hour-long, multidisciplinary performative art presentation that weaves the personal stories of indigenous, settler, immigrant, and refugee artists. It will be a show that celebrates diverse talent and questions barriers to meaningful inclusion. Our hope is to challenge current beliefs, reconnect people in community, and encourage a social imagining of a way forward.
Do you have a story to share that gives voice to your cultural or lived experience?
What:  Present a 2-10 minute performative piece (can be a work in progress) that is a personal, honest, provocative, and poignant story of your inter-relationship to place and people. We are looking for stories that make us feel - that take us out of our heads and into our hearts.
Who:  Dancers, musicians, poets, actors, writers, singers, storytellers, performative artists (local residents only please)
When:  Saturday, March 2, 5 pm - 8 pm & Sunday, March 3, 1 pm - 4 pm
Where:  Raino Dance studio, 715 Yates Street, 3rd floor
How:  Please email Paulina Grainger, ICA Arts and Outreach Coordinator, to book a time for your audition.
An honorarium for participation will be provided to the selected performers.
As part of the creative process, performers will be working with a director and a small creative team of diverse artists.
NB:  Please ensure you are available for the following four presentation dates: Tuesday, May 28; Friday, May 31; June 5 - 8; and one more date TBA, hopefully around the same time.
Group rehearsals: Sundays, April 28, May 5, May 19, May 26, 1 pm - 4 pm 
Note : Small individual and duo/trio rehearsals will be booked as necessary.
Aligned with ICA's mandate, this project aims to create a space for people of all backgrounds, regardless of colour, race, sexual orientation, religion, and culture.
This project is generously funded by the Victoria Foundation.

Google Translate on Demand

The We Speak Translate project is pleased to announce that the Google Translate training is now available on demand via pre-recorded video

The free, 45-minute training begins with a brief overview of the We Speak Translate project, then examines the features within the Google Translate app and finishes with a practical, hands-on component. Participants can now navigate through the training at their own pace and at a time convenient to them. Please feel free to share this exciting news with your community stakeholders and partners.

The founder of ICA's We Speak Translate project, Community Integration Coordinator, Kate Longpre, said goodbye to ICA in February 2019. Kate started at ICA in September 2016 and initiated the We Speak Translate project in collaboration with Google Translate. Since the project launched in April 2017, Kate has delivered over 150 in-person and webinar trainings to over 2,600 participants across Canada. 

Find more information on ICA's We Speak Translate project here.

Volunteer Opportunity: Spring CCR Consultation in Victoria
The Spring Consultation of Canadian Council for Refugees is coming to Victoria and looking for volunteers

We have exciting news to share: The Spring Consultation of the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) will take place at the University of Victoria, from May 30 to June 1, 2019. To make the Consultation run smoothly, we will need a number of volunteers to work immediately before, during, and at the end of the Consultation. 
We will need volunteers for the following tasks: 
  • Consultation kit assembling
  • Registration desk (includes selling publications, giving directions and information, and signing people up for voting cards, as well as registering people arriving at the Consultation) 
  • Monitoring of meeting rooms 
  • Supervision of display area 
  • Putting up meeting room signs 
  • Helping out with the social events
There will be volunteer training on Tuesday, May 28, in the late afternoon. The training session tells volunteers about the CCR, gives an overview of the Consultation, and explains procedures for registration and handling money. We will also assemble the Consultation kits.
If you are interested in volunteering during the CCR Consultation and are available during the period May 28 to June 1, please email Todd Kitzler from the Local Organizing Committee at ICA. 

About the CCR
The CCR is a national non-profit umbrella organization committed to the rights and protection of refugees and other vulnerable migrants in Canada and around the world and to the settlement of refugees and immigrants in Canada.
The CCR holds two Consultations each year: one in the spring (May or June) and one in the fall (November or December). CCR Consultations address issues of refugee protection and immigrant and refugee settlement. They bring together 300 or more people from across Canada and beyond. Participants include refugees, immigrants, representatives of NGOs, government, UNHCR, academics, and international guests. A General Meeting of members is always held at these Consultations, where the resolutions that drive CCR policy are moved and adopted.

The Consultations offer a key opportunity for information-exchange, networking, strategy development, and discussion.  People who work with newcomers and those with a personal interest in refugees and immigrants are warmly invited.

The Consultation is an excellent opportunity to:
  • Meet and learn from experts in the field.
  • Exchange information and prepare resolutions on a broad range of refugee and newcomer issues.
  • Contribute to the CCR working groups' ongoing dialogue on policy and legislation.

Learner Conferences and PBLA
Submitted by Sika Patton, Head Language Instructor

During the week of January 28 to February 1, students and teachers in daytime classes had a chance to sit down one on one. Student-teacher conferences happen twice a year in daytime classes and once a year in evening classes. This is an opportunity for the teacher to go over the students' progress and strengths and to give some specific feedback on how they can further improve. For students, it is a designated time to ask questions and have a discussion with the teacher in private. 

Learner conferences are an important part of the Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) system. Like all LINC classes, ICA uses the PBLA system. This means students help choose the topics they study. The goal is to learn English that is useful in the everyday lives of the students. Teachers then assess students in class on the topic they have just studied. This gives students regular feedback on how they are doing and how they can improve. Daytime classes usually do a unit and assessment every week, and evening classes do one every two weeks. When students have studied a sufficient amount of real-world language and have been successful on the assessments, they move to the next level. There is no standardized test for progression.

Employment Program to Empower Newcomer Immigrant Women
As announced in a news release from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), ICA has been selected as one of the service-provider organizations across Canada to pilot a new employment program to support visible minority newcomer women for their successful integration to the labour force and community.  Thus, the  ICA Employment Services team is pleased to launch the Workplace Occupational Readiness and Connections (WORC) for Women program on March 18, 2019. 

The WORC for Women program is designed to provide training and employment support to our immigrant woman clients for their career success in Canada.

The WORC for Women program offers:
  1. 8 weeks of part-time in-class training: includes Job Readiness skills (soft skills, essential skills, basic computer skills, as well as effective communication skills for the Canadian workplace), Job Search and Networking, Job Retention skills, and more
  2. Workplace Experience / Job Placement upon completion of in-class training
  3. On-going Job Search Support and Employment Counselling 
Eligible Clients

*Permanent Residents or individuals granted refugee status in Canada or individuals who have been selected to become permanent residents and who have been informed by a letter from IRCC

*Individuals who are currently unemployed or underemployed or employed (and able to arrange their work schedule for the program participation)

Please note: CLB level 5 is the minimum English language proficiency requirement for program participation.

For more information or to register, please email Deb Hamblin, Employment Services Manager or call 250.388.4728 ext. 134.

...and most importantly, please help us spread the word!

The Inclusion Project

The Inclusion Project  is a strategic dialogue with stakeholders on the intersectional challenges faced by newcomers in integrating to the workplace or community. It is a response to the growing need for private-public sector partnerships and collaboration in creating more inclusive and equitable access to opportunities for all, including women and youths.

Who should attend:
  • Newcomers and existing migrants, international students, immigrants and refugees
  • Business leaders, employers, entrepreneurs and HR groups
  • Public servants and policy makers
  • Post-secondary institutions 
  • Civil society organizations 
Plenary discussions will focus on key topics such as:
  • Global trends in migration and local realities
  • Opportunities and challenges for newcomers
  • Gender equity, youth engagement, and the future of work
  • Workplace inclusion
The event will take place on Saturday, March 30, 2019 at Royal Roads University Quarterdeck. Time: 8 am - 6 pm.

Keynote presentation will be delivered by Mayor Lisa Helps (Mayor, City of Victoria) and key presentations by: 
  • Dr. Chris Kilford (President, Canadian International Council) 
  • Parliamentary Secretary Mitzi Dean (PS Gender Equity)
  • Catherine Holt (CEO, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce)
  • Sangeeta Subramanian (Immigrant Employment Council of BC)
...among other distinguished leaders across public and private sectors.

General admission for individuals or organizations is $125 and $75 for students/youths or non-profit organizations. Limited sponsored tickets available based on need and discounted tickets will be available for delegates and larger groups. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. 

For further information on registration and sponsorship details, please visit:

For more information, contact: or 778-350-9086.

ICA's SWIS Team Connecting with the Community
Submitted by  Sara Shannag, Settlement Worker in Schools

January was an eventful month for the SWIS team. Among the many activities that the SWIS team was a part of was the meet and greet hosted by SD62. SWIS were able to share the important work ICA does to support children, youth, and families in Victoria. 

The main purpose of the event was to increase our shared understanding of programs and services across our community and to connect with many resources that are fundamental in assisting ICA clients. District staff, Principals/VPs, counsellors, teachers, PACS, and other valued community partners attended the event. 

Chinese New Year Celebrations in Schools
Submitted by  Julia Zhou, Settlement Worker in Schools

The SWIS team had a very busy and dynamic January and February. In January, SWIS organized a Kindergarten Information Session for Arabic families at ICA, participated in the Kindergarten Information Night sessions in school districts 61 and 63, and helped many families in the kindergarten registration process. 

In the beginning of February, SWIS collaborated with three schools with higher Chinese populations and organized some exciting Chinese New Year activities with the support of ELL teachers and administrators. 

About 300 students from two elementary schools and one high school enjoyed festival activities, including Chinese Calligraphy, paper-lantern making, paper cutting, and delicious Chinese treats. Some students and teachers received a red luck bag after answering riddles correctly. Not only students from China but also immigrants from other nations and Canadian children participated in the activities. We are very happy with the feedback from the schools, students, and parents.  

"Thank you very much for making this happen. I really enjoyed it," said a student in Campus View Elementary School. 

"I would like to deliver my appreciation to the ICA SWIS team as this event was the best part of the day," added a teacher in Campus View Elementary School. 

"This was a great event," said Stephanie, a teacher from Lochside Elementary School. "It combines diversified cultural elements into one activity, and I think the children were well educated by watching the short YouTube movie, a Fairy Tale about Chinese New Year Traditions." 

"It was amazing, and I could see it was so attractive to the students," said Julie, a teacher in Claremont Secondary School. 

Best of all: the kids had a lot of fun! 

Stay up to date: Follow ICA on social media! 

With so much happening at ICA every day, and so many ICA team members involved in community events and activities, it is hard to keep up! 
An important part of feeling like you belong in a community is knowing what is going on and being able to participate in activities that are interesting to you. 
ICA can help you stay on top of what is happening in our community - just follow our social media channels! 
From Community Partnership Network seminars, ICA events and workshops, We Speak Translate training, and ICA job postings to the latest to news, events, and festivals with a multicultural theme - you'll find it by following us on:   
Facebook,   Twitter ,  and  Instagram .  

Employment resources 

Did you know? 

ICA is a Work BC Employment Services Centre? We have a full suite of services for all your employment needs, including a variety of workshops and programs.


In This Issue
Open Call for Im:print 2019
We Speak Translate on Demand
Volunteer Opportunity
Learner Conferences and PBLA
New Employment Program for Women
The Inclusion Project
Connecting with the Community
Chinese New Year Celebrations
ICA on social media
Employment resources
What's Happening at ICA?
Community Events
What's Happening?  
Citizenship Classes 
Help for applicants who are preparing for the citizenship test. 
Settlement Orientations in Chinese
Learn important information about Victoria and Canada.
Wednesdays, 9:30 am - 11:30 am
March 6, 13, 2019

ESL Conversation Club
Practice your English conversation skills in a fun, casual setting. Offered in partnership with the Greater Victoria Public Library. Registration required. 
Thursdays, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
March 7, 14, 2019
Job Search for Newcomers
Employment workshops from resumes and cover letters to interviews and workplace culture.
Tuesdays, 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Thursdays, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm   
March 5, 7, 12, 14,  2019

Foodsafe Training
Many workplaces, such as hotels, restaurants. child and senior care facilities, require food safe training. Bring your own lunch and snacks to this full-day workshop. Cost: special ICA rate of $50 per person (regular rate is $90 per person). Registration required. CLB 4 / LINC 5 or higher required.
Friday, March 22, 2019
9:45 am - 4 pm 

Mentorship Program
Mentoring matches skilled immigrants with local professionals in related careers to help them learn about their professions in Canada.

Prenatal Class
Information about changes to a woman's body during pregnancy; fetal development; nutrition, diet, and lifestyle; labour and birth; breastfeeding and baby care; and hospital tour.
Fridays 10 am - 11:30 am
March 1, 5, 15, 22, 2019

Mom and Baby English Class
Come and learn English with your baby! Make friends and learn about the community in these special classes for moms.
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30 am - 11:30 am
March 5,  7, 12, 14, 2019
The Meetup Youth Drop-in 
Bi-weekly social program for newcomer youth ages 16 to 21. 
Tuesdays, 3:30 pm - 7:00 pm    
Learn more   

The Landing Spot 
Free drop-in program for newcomer youth aged 8-13 and 14-18+. One-on-one homework support, games, arts, sports activities.  Registration required. 
Wednesdays, 3:15 pm - 5:30 pm
Continues until June 26 (not including March 20 and 27)

ICA Employment Services
If you are looking for employment or need to upgrade, ICA's Employment Services Centre can help!  

Community Events

Intro to Marbling Workshop
with Claire Ryder
Marbling is fun for all ages because it is not technical but rather a process of playing with colours on water. Paints are placed onto a thick cellulose solution and float atop the water. The floating paints are swirled into patterns and then a piece of cloth or paper is placed on top to absorb the beautiful design.
All proceeds donated to the Gorge Tillicum Refugee Sponsorship Group. 
Cost: $30
Saturday March 9, 2019
1 pm - 3 pm
Register at
Vancouver Island School of Art
Kings Road, Victoria 

Trophy and Intrepid Theatre's UNO Fest are looking for people with a story to tell.
If you or someone you know has a story of a moment in your life when something changed , we want to hear it! Big, small, funny, or heartbreaking - all stories are welcome. We're looking to celebrate community and share and represent stories from all cultures and experiences.

Trophy is presented as part of UNO Fest, an annual festival of solo performance that animates downtown Victoria with daring and innovative artists from across North America.

Deadline for submissions is March 15, 2019. Find out more, including submission details, here

An Evening with Lisa See   
Lisa See, author of New York Times best seller Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, and Dreams of Joy, will introduce her newest novel, The Island of Sea Women.
Cost: $50 per person (includes 8-course dinner);  $65 person (includes 8-course dinner and one book);  $110 for two people (includes 8-course dinner and one book)
Tuesday, March 26, 2019  
6 pm
Golden City Restaurant
721 Fisgard Street 
For more information and tickets,  email Charlayne at