Vancouver is one of the most culturally diverse cities in Canada, attracting more newcomers from around the world every year.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), 44 per cent of Vancouver’s population was born outside Canada in 2011, with the majority coming from China and the Philippines.
Immigrants need help when they first arrive in Vancouver to face the challenges that come with relocating to a new country.
Settling in Vancouver
Various organizations offer a wealth of settlement, employment, health and language resources and programs to newcomers.
For example, the Vancouver Immigration Partnership’s Growing Roots: A Newcomer’s Guide to Vancouver includes useful advice on how to find a job in the city. It also has links to websites – like Skills Connect, ISSofBC and more – that can help immigrants find jobs, employment workshops and mentorship opportunities in Vancouver.
The Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia (ISSofBC) offers one-on-one and group support in more than 45 different languages. This 43-year-old organization helps new Vancouver immigrants find information on healthcare, housing, schools, group support services and even social networking opportunities.
The Collingwood Neighbourhood House has been offering services – including free one-on-one assessments for new Vancouver immigrants in various languages, as well as help with housing English classes, legal aid and immigration – to newcomers in the community since 1985. The Collingwood Neighbourhood House also holds useful courses and workshops on topics like basic computer use, citizenship preparation and income taxes.
The Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House helps Vancouver immigrants settle through activities like volunteering, multicultural dinners and support programs.
For more information about the various organizations that offer settlement services to Vancouver immigrants, visit the NewToBC Immigrant Service Providers page.
Working in Vancouver
One of the most important things for immigrants to do when they arrive in Vancouver is find a job. The top three resources that help Vancouver immigrants find employment include the Internet (41 per cent), family and friends (40 per cent) and professional connections (30 per cent), according to a 2011 survey by the Vancouver Immigration Partnership.
The same survey also found that 84 per cent of Vancouver immigrants appreciate working with people from around the world – having coworkers who speak different languages and have diverse cultural backgrounds.
Recent Vancouver immigrants had higher levels of education (above a bachelor’s degree) than Canadian-born residents in 2011. In fact, 23 per cent of recent immigrants, aged 25 to 64, had a university certificate, diploma or degree above the bachelor’s level as opposed to 16 per cent of Canadian-born residents.
However, despite having these education levels, Vancouver immigrants experienced higher unemployment rates than established immigrants and Canadian-born residents. In fact, in 2011, 10 per cent of newcomers were unemployed as opposed to seven per cent of Canadian-born and established immigrants.
Language can sometimes be a barrier to Vancouver immigrants finding employment. In fact, Vancouver immigrants speak more than 90 different languages and around 30 per cent of the city’s population speaks non-official languages at home, according to the Census. But only 7 percent of people in Vancouver have no knowledge of either official language. Several organizations in Vancouver offer English Classes to new immigrants, such as MosaicBC, ISSofBC, or the different Neighbourhood Houses across the city.
Working in a multicultural workplace gives Vancouver immigrants the opportunity to make friends outside their cultural communities. In fact, newcomers say the workplace is the first place they make new friends, followed by English language schools and community centres.