Blog Post

An interview with Chris Friesen – the future of settlement work is now

By: Marco Campana
June 12, 2020

When I think about the future of immigrant and refugee-services in Canada, there are a number of people I always want to talk to. Chris Friesen of ISSofBC is one of them.

He’s well connected and we’ll respected in the sector. Generous with his time. Innovative in his work. Chris always finds time to chat. He’ll take a moment to answer questions in some small research I’m doing. He tells me about things I didn’t know were going on in the sector.

In this interview, I surface the conversations we’ve been having. We talk at what settlement work looks like now, during a pandemic. What are the opportunities the sector needs to seize? What does the funder need to understand? What do we need to understand about the digital divide and digital literacy of the newcomers and communities we serve? And more.

Chris has always looked at the sector as a national project. We can become better at collaborating. We can become better at sharing what works, how we’re innovating, how we’re resilient. He’s a great advocate for the sector on the national stage. And he doesn’t shy away from telling the sector’s main funder how it can make things better for everyone.

I think you’ll find this a fun, interesting, and insightful conversation.

Some of ISSofBC’s recent work and resources:

  • Newcomer.info – a mass text-messaging tool purpose built for rapid, real-time and relevant information sharing with refugee and immigrant newcomers.
  • Digital Literacy Curriculum Resource – a website to aid English language instructors and those in the Settlement field in helping newcomer clients overcome digital literacy barriers.
  • NewTrack – a comprehensive sector tailored database/CRM system that incorporates all aspects of settlement agencies.
  • In partnership with TELUS “Welcome to Canada” initiative, which expands its Internet for Good and Mobility for Good programs through a customized pilot to help government-assisted refugees arriving in BC.
  • Welcome to our Homelands, a seven-minute video featuring six Indigenous individuals extending a welcoming message to newcomers to Canada, has been released along with a study guide to serve as a “jumping off point for further learning.”
  • Technology for Learning – ISSofBC’s LINC program utilizes current technology trends, contributing to a dynamic classroom environment that improves language learning.
  • Special Reports and Publications on Refugees – ISSofBC offers statistics, trends, observations and reports on the newcomer experience.

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