Non-profit organizations are learning how to connect with new immigrants as a potential source of volunteers.
Volunteer Alberta, NorQuest College and Volunteer Red Deer are working together on Intersections, a pilot project to help rural organizations work with immigrant volunteers.
The $296,000 project, which received $148,000 from Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Education Fund, will continue until the end of the year in Red Deer, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Vegreville, Okotoks, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Brooks
Six Central Alberta organizations are taking part in Intersections.
Rene Michalak, program co-ordinator with Volunteer Red Deer, said perceived barriers, like language, can be overcome so people don’t feel frustrated and immigrants can increase their role in the community.
“Groups like Central Alberta Refugee Effort and Central Alberta Immigrant Women’s Association welcome new immigrants to Canada and get them kind of settled.
This project is designed to get to the next phase, get them involved in the community beyond just those two organizations,” Michalak said.
As part of the pilot project, two focus groups held last fall in Red Deer looked at how new immigrants engage in their communities through volunteering, barriers they encounter, and how non-profits recruit and involve new immigrants.
Members of non-profit groups are now participating in online workshops on minimizing barriers, increasing cultural competency, how to recruit more volunteers and create more welcoming communities.
In 2008, about 14 per cent of Alberta’s immigrant population lived outside Edmonton and Calgary.