Despite changes Kitimat still has immigration support

Welcoming Communities is now the Kitimat Immigration Resource Centre.

It may have gone through some changes but at its core Kitimat’s Immigration Service — up until recently Welcoming Communities — is still here to give services to those who have made Kitimat, and maybe Canada, their new home.

The change in name comes as Welcoming Communities — a provincially funded program — no longer exists.

Taking its place for the now-called Kitimat Immigration Resource Centre (KIRC) is CIC, which is Citizen and Immigration Canada.The office is still in the Northwest Community College campus.

CIC has contracted with Kitimat’s immigration centre for the next three years.

“Our priorities for this next three year contract that we have is of course to development the ESL. We have…hired on a very qualified ESL teacher who will be running levels one through nine classes. Those are all free to the public,” said Liz Hoffman, who heads the program.

They also offer settlement services, paperwork services, and job shadowing programs through local companies.

Because their are connected with the federal immigration system, Hoffman says they can actually improve their immigration paperwork by tying straight in to the government system, whereas before they could only advise and pull information from the Internet.

KIRC also works to alleviate problems associated with housing and child care for immigrants to Kitimat.

“Our new priorities this year are always trying to solve the housing and child care issues for immigrants. It’s an issue for both immigrants and I think Kitimat community members,” she said.

Health care employment is the main area where they see challenges in placing people for employment, due to Canada’s requirements for health employees compared to other countries.

“We have doctors that are actually working as LPNs in town because they’re credentialed, running their own places in other countries but here they come and the requirements are so much different.”

KIRC has drop-in hours from Monday to Thursday, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. or you can make arrangements to see them outside of those hours.