Thank you to the Victoria Soul Gospel Choir
Submitted by Meghan Mergaert, Development Manager

Newcomer children at ICA will have a little more music in their lives thanks to members of the Victoria Soul Gospel Choir. Choir members learned of ICA through a community presentation by ICA's Community Development and Employment Team. ICA was named as their recipient organization for their winter concert in December 2018.
This week, choir members Jack Petrie and Gord Warrenchuk stopped by ICA's music class in our Childminding Program to check out what they are learning. The generous donation of $4,300 will create opportunities for newcomer children to learn language and build confidence through music programs. 
To learn more about the Victoria Soul Gospel Choir, click here.

To learn how you can support our work, contact Meghan Mergaert.

Jack Petrie and Gord Warrenchuk

Photos by Quinton Gordon, Manager, Strategic Engagement
Adventures with ICA's Youth Meet Up Group
Submitted by Robin McGeough, Settlement Youth Worker

On January 27, ICA's Youth Meet Up Group hiked up a mountain, led by two fantastic guides, Charles He and Karun Thanjavur. For many youth, this was their first time out hiking. Our Meet Up outings encourage youth to try something new and to learn about their community. For example, did you know that PKOLS is the Indigenous name for the mountain commonly known in Victoria as Mount Douglas? It has been a sacred site for the WSÁNEĆ-speaking nations and it carries the meaning "white rock." PKOLS was officially renamed with its traditional name in May 2014. 

More Youth Meet Up adventures are planned for the coming months. Find more information here.

Photos by Quinton Gordon, Manager, Strategic Engagement
Not Your Usual Conversation: Arts, Culture, & Diversity Seminar
Submitted by Steven Lorenzo Baileys, Community Development Coordinator 

Valerie Sing Turner

In December 2018, the Community Partnership Network (CPN) and ICA hosted a seminar to explore how local arts and culture organizations can meaningfully address systemic inequality and improve engagement with our region's growing and diverse communities.

Representatives from a broad cross-section of arts organizations, including Langham Court Theatre, Belfry Theatre, Pacific Opera Victoria, Royal BC Museum, among others, spent the morning learning and sharing about strategies to expand and embed diversity into their boards, audiences, staff, volunteers, and artists.

The seminar began with a multidiscipline arts presentation of dance, music, and poetry by artists from the Latino, Aboriginal, African-Caribbean, and LGBTQ communities. 

The arts performance was followed by a provocative presentation on arts, decolonization, and diversity by Vancouver-based artist Valerie Sing Turner. An award-winning theatre artist of Chinese ancestry, Valerie spoke about her experiences as a performer, writer, director, and producer. Valerie's keynote challenged the audience to understand the history of racism and its ongoing presence in Canadian society, arts, and culture. She spoke about the impact of colonization on the arts and the need for arts organizations to adopt and implement decolonization strategies and examine their organizations to feel the "productive discomfort" that comes with change. Valerie emphasized the need for arts organizations to adopt the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We need to ask ourselves: "Who is not present at your arts and culture table?"

Inspired by Valerie's presentation, a moderated panel discussion with leaders from local arts and culture organizations shared common challenges their arts agencies face in decolonizing and promoting diversity. Panel members included:

  • Ian Rye, Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Opera Victoria
  • Lina de Guevara, Popular theatre director, producer, facilitator (founder of Puente Theatre)
  • Sean Guist, Intrepid Theatre Marketing and Development Manager and OUTstages Curator
  • Dr. Tzu-I Chung, Curator of the Royal British Columbia Museum
After the panel, seminar participants engaged in a Global Cafe dialogue as participants shared their own organization's diversity challenges and successes while identifying future-based actions to promote inclusiveness and decolonization in the arts.

Seminar participants left the event inspired and impassioned. One arts community member said it best: "Valerie painted a true and realistic picture of our world today. She inspired and challenged us to create with this in mind. We are artists who have a responsibility to use our art to tell all our stories, to heal, and to keep telling the truth about what is happening in our communities. We must also reflect the diverse population in our communities, in our organizations, in our leadership, in our staff, in our programming, and on our 'stages,' otherwise, we're only paying lip service to the notion of inclusiveness."

View seminar photos here.  

Learn more about Valerie Sing Turner here.

Learn about the CPN here.

Anti-Racism: Community Conversation
Submitted by Paulina Grainger, Arts & Outreach Coordinator

"Racism devalues individuals, divides communities, and breeds fear and animosity throughout society." These are the words the Prime Minister noted in 2017 on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In light of this, ICA was pleased to have been asked to facilitate a community conversation by Canadian Heritage as part of their cross-country dialogue on anti-racism. The priority was to hear directly from Indigenous and racialized community members with lived experiences of discrimination and racism. The purpose of this engagement series is to help inform the development of a new federal anti-racism strategy.

ICA encourages and fully supports conversations like these that hopefully shift attitudes and create better pathways for inclusion. One of the guest speakers, Dr. Lisa Gunderson, an award-winning educator and equity consultant, spoke about the negative impacts of a racist system and the importance of creating an inclusive community where everyone is able to fully participate in the economic, cultural, social, and political spheres of society: "Individualized racism is often recognized, but the more serious issue is systemic racism which is deeply embedded in white privilege and history, and much of it is unconscious to white people. But this message is one of hope and joy, because despite ongoing deep-seated discrimination and even genocide, those that have been subject to racism are still here, still speaking out and not going anywhere."

The other guest speaker, Teka Everstz, a proud member of the Bear Clan from the Kanien'keha'ka Mohawk Nation Territory, emphasized the importance of creating safer spaces, were we can all be who we are through the process of interculturalization, which is about bringing people together and building community. For this to be successful though, he said it was crucial that it incorporated indigenization, "We all need to be aware of the historical trauma afflicted on this land and it's indigenous people and it is our responsibility to be involved in healing work and reconciliation".

The rest of the event was spent in groups discussing factors that have contributed to racism and what the community felt the federal government could do to better address this racism and discrimination. A number of participants shared stories of racist incidents and cultural insensitivities they've experienced living and raising children here, and reflecting back on the full morning of conversation, Gary Anandasangaree, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, closed the session by saying, 'We've come a long way, but it's clear that the road ahead is longer. There is still work to be done and we have a shared responsibility for Reconciliation, no matter where we came from or when we arrived in Canada. More needs to be done in this learning process to ensure conversations like these continue."

Building off what has been done before, these cross-country talks demonstrate the Government's interest in combating racism, and at the same time, it is a reminder to all of us that building a society that is free of racism requires ongoing commitment. And, ICA, for one, is up to the task.

Refugees keep warm with Welcome Quilts
Submitted by Kate Longpre, Community Integration Coordinator 

Since November 2017, ICA has been working with a group of community volunteers to distribu te "Welcome Quilts" to res ettled refugee f amilies in the Victoria region.  The "Welcome Quilts" are handmade by com munity volunteers and customized for each family member. 

ICA staff and clients are extremely grateful for the generosity and kindness of the volunteers who dedicate their time to making the quilts.  To date, ICA has distributed over two dozen quilts to resettled refugees.

Welcome to ICA: Sheryl Sackman

ICA is pleased to welcome, Sheryl Sackman, Development Coordinator. 

Sheryl recently relocated to Victoria from Portland, Oregon. She brings more than 30 years of experience building nonprofit development and communications programs and has a deep commitment to social, economic, and environmental justice. 

She is looking forward to supporting ICA's goal of increasing community support for immigrants and refugees in the region.

Hello from ICA's new LINC Instructors: Mary and Laurel
Mary Leighton, LINC Instructor
My name is Mary Leighton and I am a new casual LINC Instructor.  Starting with a childhood in Saudi Arabia, I have been exposed to many cultures and languages. Sadly, I did not learn Arabic when I was young. As an adult, though, I have eagerly pursued languages where they are spoken, including Arabic, Turkish, French, and Spanish.  I was drawn toward teaching from an early age and have always loved connecting with people, sharing thoughts, and helping people understand. I have taught English for more than 10 years, both abroad and in Canada, primarily with adults. I have TESOL and CELTA certification, a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Psychology, and a Master of Education in teaching English.
Two other focuses have been language exchange and community organizing. In 2010, I founded the UBC Tandem Language Learning Program, which has grown to match thousands of participants. In 2016, I founded Language Partners BC, a community version, which connects neighbours with a focus on supporting Canadian newcomers. Since learning about community organizing through Organize BC, I have also worked at political and environmental advocacy organizations, and in elections at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels.  In my free time, I enjoy studying Turkish, reading, hiking, and exercising.

Laurel MacLean, LINC Instructor
My name is Laurel MacLean and I am a casual LINC Instructor. I was bitten by the travel bug when I was a teenager and had the pleasure of living in England, Australia, and South Africa. This time spent overseas inspired me to find a career that fulfilled my passion for learning and my sense of adventure, so I went on to teach English in South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Turkey. Having spent almost one third of my life in other countries, I truly believe that a foreign accent is a sign of bravery and I admire those who have the courage to learn a new language and the curiosity to explore different cultures.  
Equipped with a BA in Sociology, over a decade of ESL/EFL experience, and a Cambridge Diploma in English Language teaching, I am always enthusiastic to embark on new learning journeys.

Featured workshop: Mom and Baby English Class
 Submitted by Amanda Gaunt, Training Coordinator

Come and learn English with your baby!

Moms with babies under one year of age are invited to to this special English class where babies are welcome. It is an opportunity to make friends and learn more about the community.
Classes are held from 9:30 am to 11:30 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays from February 12 to March 7. 

Open to all eligible ICA moms with a baby under one year of age. Register at reception. 

For more information, contact Amanda Gaunt, at or call 250-388-4728 ext 105. 

To learn more about other workshops and training at ICA, click here

Class field trip: Learning about local businesses
Submitted by students in Jennifer Taylor's LINC 7/8 class 

Outside Cold Comfort; photo by Will Smith

Imagine eating ice cream and drinking a cup of freshly roasted coffee in winter in Victoria! Recently, ICA's LINC 7/8 class left the classroom to have an experience in real-life learning. In order to know more about running a small business successfully, we toured two famous local shops, Cold Comfort Creamery and Yoka's Coffee and Honey, both located close to ICA. It was a fabulous experience to be face to face, talking with the business owners. It was wonderful not only to improve our English skills, but it also helped us increase our confidence and build community in our new city.

Yoka's Coffee and Honey; 
photo by Eduardo Escalante
At Yoka's Coffee and Honey, we heard interesting stories about their coffee. Yoka and Tristan have been roasting coffee and running the coffee shop for about 10 years in Victoria. They moved from Vancouver but kept their customers because of their special coffee, and now they sell high-quality coffee in Victoria from many countries as well as local honey. Like Tristan and Yoka, we're newcomers to this community. Our experience at Yoka's gave us confidence that bringing something fresh is a key to local business success, and it also helped us feel like part of our community and builders in our new city.

You can run a small business without a loan as Autumn, the owner of Cold Comfort Creamery said, when our class had the opportunity to share time with her in her ice cream shop. Initially, Autumn sold her homemade ice cream to a restaurant and in farmer's markets, and she has owned the ice cream shop on North Park Street in Fernwood since 2013. Now Cold Comfort provides more than 400 kinds of ice cream and she employs more than 10 staff in the summer season. Autumn's business experience encourages us to realize our dreams by depending on ourselves. Autumn, who is a confident and passionate business owner, gave us a real-life learning experience of how to contribute to our community.

Our visit to Yoka's Coffee and Honey and Cold Comfort Creamery was a great opportunity for us to get involved in the community. Through these visits, we learned that real-life learning experiences help us to feel more confident about building a new home in our new city. Our class felt welcome and we realized that we can contribute to the local economy by opening our own businesses and by shopping at local businesses. We hope to make our beautiful community better, together.

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
Victoria Soul Gospel Choir
Youth Meet Up Group
Arts, Culture, and Diversity Seminar
Anti-Racism: Community Conversation
Welcome Quilts
Sheryl Sackman, Development Coordinator
Two new LINC Instructors
Featured workshop
LINC 7/8 class field trip
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 English
Learn important information about Victoria and Canada.
Wednesdays, 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
February 6, 13, 20,  27, 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
February 7, 14, 21, 28, 2019
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   
February 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 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 February 8, 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.

Women's Health and Yoga Group
Practise yoga and learn how to stay healthy in the women-only group. Registration at ICA reception is required. Daycare not available. LINC level 3 or higher required.
Wednesdays 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
February 6, 13, 20, 27, 2019

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
February 22, 2019
March 1, 5, 15, 22, 2019

Baby Talk
Come learn about feeding your baby, car seat safety, baby health, dental care, immunizations, and parenting.
Fridays 10 am - 11:30 am
February 1 and 8, 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
February 12, 14, 19, 21, 26, 28, 2019
March 5,  7, 2019

Homework Club
Language and homework support for immigrant and refugee children and youth ages 8-17 and 18-25. Registration required.
Wednesdays, 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm
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   

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

Community Events
Lunar New Year Fundraising Dinner  
The Victoria Chinatown Lioness Club is hosting their annual fundraising dinner to celebrate the Year of the Pig
Saturday, February 2, 2019  
6 pm
Golden City Restaurant
721 Fisgard Street 
Tickets: $48 per person
For more info and tickets, call Gala Fabrics at 250-389-1312 or call/text 250-514-1928 or  email