More than 400,000 immigrants live in Calgary and they all play a role in making our community a happier, safer, and more prosperous place. They are trained healthcare workers, transit drivers, teachers, engineers, and artists who moved to Canada in search of a better life—and at one point, they needed support to build thriving lives. This is why we exist.
Our Impact. Our Community.
Immigrant Services Calgary supports newcomers in their immigration journey, helping them access vital programs and services to realize their Canadian dream. Our impact*:
newcomers helped to build thriving lives in Calgary
language tests executed to help newcomers access English language classes, schooling, and certifications
assessments completed to ensure newcomers are connected to the best programs and services to meet their needs
*Cumulative data from 2016-2023
Meet the people we've helped:
My Gateway Planner was the first person I spoke to in Calgary to get information about the services available, especially for people with disabilities,” says Dima. “She made things easy for me by informing me about resources I could benefit from.”
When she was only three years old, Dima had an accident that left her permanently disabled. Growing up in a small Syrian town, she didn’t receive a lot of support, with many viewing a life of disability as one not worth living.
After graduating from high school, she moved, found a job in Damascus, and began frequenting a gym for athletes with disabilities. Ten years later, she was an international table tennis gold medalist, met her husband, Osama, and they soon welcomed two boys into their family.
When war broke out in Syria, Dima’s family fled to Turkey. In 2017, they relocated to Ontario before moving to Calgary in 2021—where Dima contacted Immigrant Services Calgary for support.
Working with her Gateway Planner, Dima shared goals for her future and was referred to programs that could help her and her family—and applied for Canadian citizenship.
Dima and her family are now building the lives they envisioned for themselves, thanks to the support from Immigrant Services Calgary.
“Moving from one province to another was difficult for me, especially because of the language barrier,” says Dima. “My Gateway Planner made things easy. The services Immigrant Services Calgary provides are excellent and make it easier for newcomers to adjust to their new life.”
to support newcomers like Dima.
I felt lost, and my head was spinning,” Hanna recalls. “But our Gateway planner listened for hours, she put together a plan for me on where to get food and clothes and even asked about my future dreams.”
On May 9th, 2022, Ukrainian couple Hanna and her boyfriend Anton landed at the Calgary airport with only a backpack, a cell phone, a cell phone charger—and hope.
“It was madness, moving to a new country, with no work, no place to stay, no clothes, nothing,” Hanna says.
After settling in with a host family, Hanna and Anton were connected to Gateway at Immigrant Services Calgary, where a Gateway Newcomer Planner put together a customized plan for their settlement journey. Through Gateway, Hanna was able to sign up for language classes and was connected with Dress to Success where she received everything she needed for a job interview.
“I felt lost, and my head was spinning,” Hanna recalls. “But our Gateway planner listened for hours, she put together a plan for me on where to get food and clothes and even asked about my future dreams.”
A lot has changed since then. Hanna has come full circle from being a Gateway client to now being the face of client relations at Immigrant Services Calgary, where she is able to help others with similar settlement circumstances, bringing empathy and hope to other clients.
to support newcomers like Hanna.
Canada seemed like the perfect option from what we researched,” says Yumna. “We read that the people were nice and welcoming, and it was actually the truth when we came here and experienced that. In Canada, you find opportunities and you can actually settle for the long term.”
Originally from Pakistan, Yumna landed in Canada in March 2020—only three days before Canadian borders closed due to the pandemic.
Both her and her husband were working in the Middle East, and while they held lucrative jobs, they weren’t able to settle there permanently. They wanted to move somewhere they could call home.
When she arrived, she was eager to apply for jobs and network, but it was a challenge with pandemic lockdowns. A friend recommended Immigrant Services Calgary to help her succeed faster.
Yumna connected with an Immigrant Services Calgary employment counselor and received guidance on her resume and job search. She attended virtual networking events and other free workshops that helped her understand the Canadian culture, employment, banking, and healthcare systems. With the support of her employment counselor, she landed a job in her area of expertise, and is now building the career of her dreams.
“The support and the encouragement we received from people who were strangers to us was phenomenal and unexpected,” she says. “We didn't know a lot of people in Calgary, so with that much support from people who you don't know, it's just something else.”
Yumna is a strong believer in paying it forward. She hopes every newcomer gets the support they need to adapt to their new home, thrive, and unleash their full potential.
to support newcomers like Yumna.
Partnering for Change
At Immigrant Services Calgary, we believe in the famous saying “two heads are better than one.” Combining the strengths and expertise of diverse organizations allows us to solve issues impacting our community through innovation and strategic problem solving. Only 4 in 10 newcomers to Canada are accessing support services. Together with our partners, we want to grow that number to 8.
The following are a few examples of our transformational partnerships.
60% of newcomers to Canada are not accessing the services they need because the current support system is complex and challenging to navigate.
In a Calgary survey of those not accessing services, 80% were unaware or confused about the services available to them.
Traditionally, the settlement sector in Calgary was siloed, with each organization functioning individually, rather than in coordination with one another. For newcomers entering the city, this meant there was no clear path showing which services to access and when. Despite their desire to succeed in their new home, many newcomers fell through the cracks and were unable to build thriving lives.
In 2021, Immigrant Services Calgary and its community partners launched Gateway: a collaboration among organizations to better serve and support newcomers who choose to make Alberta home. Born out of the desire to improve the lives of newcomers in Calgary, Gateway ensures immigrants and refugees are connected to the best-fit programs and services that enable them to thrive in their new home.
programs and services available to help newcomers succeed
languages spoken by support staff to eliminate language barriers
partners working together to ensure newcomers are connected to the best-fit services in the community
Each newcomer story is different, which is why each Gateway client receives a unique plan based on their dreams, goals, skills, and priorities. The plan refers newcomers to the programs and services that best meet their needs. The Gateway team follows up with the client on a regular basis to ensure the client is reaching their goals.
Calgary Newcomers Collaborative (CNC)
The Calgary Newcomers Collaborative (CNC) powered by Gateway is a group of newcomer-serving and other broad-based social service agencies working together to respond to the needs of immigrants and refugees in Calgary and the surrounding area.
CNC powered by Gateway is the expansion of the Calgary East Zone Newcomers Collaborative (CENC), which was founded in 2020 as a response to the ongoing pandemic and the needs of newcomers and ethnocultural communities in Calgary. This collaboration between agencies proved so effective and impactful that it has now become a permanent initiative dedicated to fostering the successful integration and empowerment of newcomers. By bringing together a diverse network of organizations and service providers, CNC powered by Gateway strives to create a supportive ecosystem that addresses the unique needs of newcomers and helps them thrive in their new home.
Our collective impact through CENC and CNC:
CENC partnered with local organizations to coordinate drive-thru vaccine clinics, faith-informed appointments, and pop-up clinics helping to dramatically increase vaccination rates for northeast Calgary residents during the COVID-10 pandemic. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of all partners, northeast Calgary ranked number-one in first-dose vaccine coverage in Alberta, with almost 99% of eligible residents having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by November 2021.
CNC partners Immigrant Services Calgary, The Immigrant Education Society, the Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth, and the Centre for Newcomers have been providing on the ground support to Ukrainian evacuees at various community touchpoints and targeted events since May 2022. Together, the partners have supported over 5,000 Ukrainian evacuees with basic needs, employment and career support, free eye clinics, securing government documents and benefits, and other services.
CNC launched the Immigrant Arrival Centre at the Calgary International Airport, in collaboration with Calgary Airport Authority. Prompted by the influx of Ukrainian nationals to Calgary but designed to support all newcomers, the centre is a booth where immigrants and refugees can ask questions, seek support, and establish connections to services immediately upon arrival. Since its launch in October 2022, the centre has supported almost 3,000 newcomers to Calgary.
Learn more about this incredible collaboration in the video below.
Newcomer Knowledge Hub
The Newcomer Knowledge Hub (the K-Hub) is a partnership between Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC) and the University of Calgary (UCalgary), Faculty of Social Work.
Working as a community of practitioners and academics, the K-Hub aims to improve the services for, and experience of, newcomers through:
The goal of the K-Hub is to improve the settlement system in Canada by developing and piloting a way to translate data into knowledge that will make it easier for policymakers, researchers, and service providers to:
Research Advisory Group
The K-Hub Research Advisory Group is comprised of researchers and strategic advisors from the newcomer and non-profit sectors and academia, and who provide guidance and counsel on the implementation of K-Hub’s goals. The advisory group includes:
I came to meet you with a bunch of problems, questions and I was clueless and not able to express my pain and cried a lot in front of you …You show me a path how to handle the situation where I have to go and whom I have to meet …