Learn about our youth-serving partners on International Youth Day

August 12, 2023 | Guest Blog, Our blog

In collaboration with the Calgary Immigration Partnership (CLIP) and the Calgary Public Library, Gateway organized an event at the Central Public Library on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in commemoration of this year’s World Refugee Day.

The event aimed to celebrate the strength and courage of refugees who had been forced to flee their home countries due to conflict or persecution.

During the event, Sarah Meilleur, the CEO of Calgary Public Library, welcomed the audience, highlighting that the library is often one of the first destinations for immigrants and refugees upon their arrival. This is because the library provides them with free services, including a membership card, access to Wi-Fi, computers, and printing facilities. Sarah commended the immigrant-serving agencies for their collaborative efforts in supporting refugees on their settlement journeys.

The Calgary Local Immigration Partnership (CLIP) coordinator, Dejana Knih, read the opening remarks and address from the Mayor of Calgary, Mayor Gondek. In her speech, Mayor Gondek thanked refugees who have made Calgary their new home for their resilience and contributions to the city.

After the mayor’s address, there was a film screening of “Struggling to Adapt: One Syrian Refugee Family’s Story” by CBC The National. The film showcased the settlement journey of a Syrian family of nine, including seven children and their parents, who had fled Syria due to conflict and arrived in Lethbridge, Alberta as refugees. The audience got a glimpse of the challenges the family faced, how they slowly adjusted to their new life in Canada, and their journey of learning English to improve their job prospects.

There was a moment of reflection for the audience to absorb the story of this family, which represented the experience of many refugees.

Following the screening, a panel discussion with subject matter experts from local support organizations was held. The panel included Jill Edgington Kirby from the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS), Elliot Dewhirst from the End of the Rainbow Foundation, Besrat Tesfamariam from Immigrant Services Calgary/Gateway, and Margaret Yu from Momentum. Dejana Knih, the CLIP Coordinator, moderated the panel discussion.

The panelists discussed the challenges faced by refugees, such as employers requiring Canadian work experience, social issues, and the struggle to afford a decent standard of living. They also offered suggestions on how to improve the lives of refugees, including supporting local refugee businesses, providing a non-judgmental environment, showing empathy, and volunteering to help them integrate into the Canadian system.

Partners from 10 immigrant-serving agencies had booths at the event to showcase free resources and programs that are available for refugees.

 

International Youth Day was established by the United Nations in 2000, and the organization says its purpose is to recognize that young people’s imagination, ideals, and energy are vital for the continuing development of societies.

It celebrates the impact that young people have in education, employment, conflict resolution, and social justice—to name only a few areas where their influence is essential.

At Gateway, we partner with and refer to organizations that support the development and well-being of young people so that they can thrive, and in turn, we can all benefit from their invaluable contributions to our society.

Here are some organizations working to unlock the full potential of young people, and a selection of the youth-serving programs they provide.

Calgary Bridge for Youth Foundation (CBFY)

CBFY supports immigrant and refugee youth and their families with information about Canadian culture and Calgary’s school system.

Its staff help children and youth make friends through programs that grow their personal, social, and emotional skills while helping them settle into life in Canada.

CBFY offers access to in-school settlement programs, after-school programs, and mentorship programs to help newcomer children adjust to life in a new country.

With offices in the public Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Catholic School District reception centres, CBFY is also positioned to be a central point of contact for newcomers hoping to register children in school.

Centre for Newcomers (CFN)

CFN has been a key resource for immigrants and refugees of all nationalities in Calgary since 1988. Its vision is to create a community that values diversity, and where people of all backgrounds have opportunities to fulfill their dreams and participate fully in our society.

The organization offers access to a wide variety of services for newcomer youth, including programs to support those who are considered at risk; gang intervention programs; vulnerable youth settlement programs; and mentorship programs.

Football Hockey Link (FHL)

FHL helps immigrant children and youth integrate into Canadian society and build community with activities throughout the year, including summer sports camps that introduce them to football and hockey.

Youth learn the basics of these two great Canadian sports before they are connected to their local sports associations with support from FHL, and benefit from being able to share the love and understanding of these games with their peers.

The program is designed to help children and youth between the ages of 8 and 16 build their confidence, communities, and self-worth.

Hull Services

Hull Services provides mental health services for children, youth, and families. It works with people who have experienced significant challenges and offers them opportunities to seek well-being and happiness, with a focus on mental health.

Although many of its youth-related services require a referral by a health-care professional, service, or agency, Hull has a directory of self-referral programs that are open to the public. These include Lasting Impressions, which works with families that have dependent children under the age of 18 whose parent is dealing with mental illness, and Hull’s Mental Health and Addiction Navigator, which helps youth and others with mental health and addiction concerns effectively navigate available resources and access support.

KidSport

KidSport provides grants to help cover the costs of registration fees, as well as providing no-cost equipment so that all kids aged 18 and under in Calgary & Area can play a season of sport.

The Calgary & Area chapter accepts applications and administers grants of up to $500 per child annually. Interested clients can find out more on their website or connect with a Gateway Newcomer Planner to learn more.

MindFuel

A leader in developing youth talent by supporting young innovators, this charity has helped make STEM—that’s science, technology, engineering, and math—a passion for youth since 1990.

MindFuel supports students and teachers with STEM innovation, design thinking, entrepreneurialism, computational thinking, nanotechnology, robotics, synthetic biology, energy, and more.

Great MindFuel programs for newcomer youth include CodingvilleFounders Fundamentals and the Tech Futures Challenge.

Portail de I’Immigrant Association (PIA)

PIA is an organization dedicated to promoting and sharing Francophone cultural events in Alberta, which offers a range of services and programs to meet the needs of the province’s Francophone community.

Through PIA, Francophone youth can connect to services including counselling and after-school programs that help kids in Grades 1-12 with homework, provide them with online tutoring, and promote physical activity and healthy eating.

PIA also offers access to the Maison des Jeunes Francophones, Alberta’s first Francophone youth centre and gathering place that has learning, training, volunteering, and employment services.

Ruth’s House

Ruth’s House seeks to break the cycle of abuse in the African community by offering programs like Youth Against Abuse where youth from the ages of 13-19 connect and talk about the prevention of abuse.

It provides tools for building resilience for youth who have experienced family violence and abuse, and counsellors work with them through games, mentorship, and conversation.

The youth discover ways to communicate; develop their own voices and value systems; rebuild trust and broken relationships with families; and can focus on building successful lives for themselves.

Trellis Society

Trellis Society is an agency that offers social services to help people from different backgrounds find support, including housing, employment, and safe home environments.

Its programming includes Building Youth Connections, which addresses the developmental and settlement needs of newcomer youth.

Trellis offers cultural and recreational activities with positive adults and peers that promote building social networks; family events that promote togetherness and celebrate cultural diversity; employment-related services that include employment skills workshops; and more.

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