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Resources, services and programs for newcomers in the Kootenays 

Posted on: February 24, 2023

Many newcomers to Canada are choosing smaller communities to settle into, find work, and attend school. The Kootenays, a region of southeastern BC, is seeing a boom of immigrants that is changing the demographics of the region at a rate that hasn’t been seen in recent history. Many newcomers find the adjustment to small-town living quite a shock. Housing is difficult to find, transportation is lacking, and the cultural differences can be quite dramatic. However, many supports, services and programs are available to help them adapt, settle and connect. Best of all, they are free. 

Connect to the information on NewToBC

We offer a one-stop shop to find the information you need to settle in BC. In our Immigrant Programs and Services section, we provide programs and services by community so you can see what is available to you locally. In Useful Immigrant Settlement Guides and Websites you will find information pertaining to employment, language learning, health, LGBTQ2S+ resources and more. In Settling in BC Questions and Answers we provide the most common questions asked by new immigrants before or after they arrive in BC and answer them with the most up-to-date and credible sources of information. In the Library Champions Project you will find information about our 3-month volunteer program that connects you to your local library and other newcomers in your community. We encourage you to use this site as your first point of contact, then branch out from here. 

Connect to your local library

We always recommend that the first point of connection to a community is through the local public library. The Kootenay Library Federation offers 20 public libraries across the West and East Kootenays. Obtaining a library card is easy to do, and membership is free. Newcomers can meet other people, connect to programs and events, use the free internet, access materials in their native languages, access online learning resources, and so much more. We have a description of BC libraries in 29 languages to help you access the information you need. 

Connect to a settlement services advisor 

Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL) Settlement Services helps newcomers learn about their new community and make lasting connections. A settlement worker can help you find the information and resources you need and help you navigate local services. This might look like helping you open a bank account, find a place to live, access medical care, or register your children for school. It might also look like orienting you to Canadian workplace culture, helping fill out forms and applications, connecting you to social and cultural groups and referring you to community programs. CBAL also helps newcomers with English language assessments and training programs to help you learn English.

Connect to a WorkBC Centre

WorkBC will help you find work, explore your career options and improve your skills, and provides information on BC’s labour market. There are many WorkBC Centre locations that can help in your job search. These centres offer a self-serve resource area that contains computer workstations with internet access, photocopiers and scanners, information on local employers and their hiring practices, resume and cover letter resources, and staff support should you need additional help. Often, staff in a WorkBC centre can provide service in a language other than English. 

Reach out. Get involved. Before you know it, you will feel the connection to your new community and be on your way to feeling settled.