Mission welcoming to newcomers, hears council

Mission is welcoming to newcomers, and “there is nothing to fear” with those who settle here from other countries, was the message heard by District of Mission Council as Mission Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) coordinator Rick Rake recently presented on behalf of Mission Community Services Society.

Rake presents annually to council on behalf of the LIP and the MCSS settlement and integration department, offering the latest immigrant trends, programming and statistics.

Let’s keep educating ourselves about immigrants . . . meeting them and supporting them, Rake said, adding that “Mission is good at welcoming newcomers.”

“Partnerships with businesses, government and non-profits in the community to help newcomers is key.”

Last year when Rake presented before council, the LIP was later provided with a statement by then-Coun. Pam Alexis on how the district feels about newcomers to the community, and he repeated what was said:

“There are over 5,000 people in Mission today who weren’t born in Canada. We are a diverse community.
“The diversity of our backgrounds means we all bring unique experiences and perspectives to our common belief and shared commitment to fostering a healthy and welcoming community.
“In coming together we build networks that are stronger, more resilient, adaptable, and vibrant.
“We share the belief that everyone deserves opportunities to thrive. Together, we can work to make sure that everyone truly is welcome here.”

Rake said he is hoping that these words become part of recorded policy statements within the District of Mission and its website for all to see. And soon.

After the influx of some 30 refugees in the community two years ago from Syria and The Congo and the massive community support that was required and the basic language issues which became prevalent, we are at a new stage, said Rake.

“Change has come about as immigration in Mission returns to the traditional streams of skilled workers, and family class newcomers. We are seeing our level 1 and 2 learners progressing through to level 3 and 4 now offered at our offices through Abbotsford Community Services. Mission Literacy in Motion is also a valuable partner in providing its language services,” said Rake. Partner Mission Library is also teaching children about diversity.

Rake also talked about the #AllAreWelcomeHere bumper sticker campaign.

Merchants and members of the public are displaying our #ALL Are WELCOME HERE bumper stickers, and local sponsors are paying for them. Generosity from the public in Mission towards our newcomers is amazing, he said, showing a picture of Sean Melia of Mission’s branch of Prospera Credit Union, sponsor of the campaign.

Rake also reminded the public and council the 2019 edition of Festival of Light: Diwali is set for Friday, Oct. 18 at Clarke Theatre, featuring free food, lively stage entertainment and a marketplace of 20 commercial and non-profit agencies.