Grant helps immigrants adjust to North Okanagan

The welcome mat is firmly in place.

Encouraging immigrants to settle in the North Okanagan is the focus after the Social Planning Council received $167,000 in provincial funds.

“If we’re going to be competitive economically, we need to attract immigrants,” said Annette Sharkey, executive director.

“We want to be welcoming and inclusive when they arrive in the community.”

Besides filling vacancies in some sectors, immigrants can create businesses which hire residents.

The funding will ensure newcomers know where to access immigration-related services. It could also include putting them in touch with employment counselling or areas requiring investment dollars.

Signs could be posted in various languages while  the broader community could be introduced to cultures through cuisine.

“Helping new immigrants settle in B.C. increases the number of skilled workers that contribute to the economy of our community,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.

Traditionally, immigrants have settled in large metropolitan centres, but that is evolving.

“Lots of new immigrants are looking at lifestyle and that’s where Vernon can compete. They want a good place to raise children,” said Sharkey.


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