Immigration: The Catholic Immigration Centre (CIC)
The Catholic Immigration Centre (CIC) is one of eight settlement aid agencies that serve newcomers and refugees in the Ottawa area. Started in 1954, the organization has developed a variety of programs and resources to serve the settlement, integration, and community development needs of immigrants and refugees within the city.
Among the wide range of services the institution provides, the Settlement Services, Reception House and the Host Program are accessed the most by newcomers. But there are many others available for them:
- Settlement program: A multilingual team of counsellors provide complete, culturally appropriate settlement services, which include orientation, information, translation, interpretation, referral, documentation, housing, employment, accreditation issues, counselling, training and legal advice.
- Host program: Establishes and supports friendship matches between newcomers and volunteer ‘hosts’. Just like any friendship, hosts and newcomers decide where to go and what to do with their time together according to their shared interests and personal needs, which gives newcomers the friendships and emotional support they need to adapt to their new country.
- Pastoral and sponsorship program: The pastoral program works with local faith groups in welcoming refugees to Ottawa. Pastoral and settlement staff collaborate to help interested newcomers connect with appropriate faith communities.
- Housing Search and Eviction Prevention Programs: These programs help immigrants find and retain housing, and facilitate conflict resolution in landlord/tenant disputes.
- The Reception House: This is a 90-bed facility that receives government-sponsored refugees from around the world, providing them with a temporary home and initial orientation. In addition, Reception House offers temporary accommodation to homeless newcomers. Services include housing support, orientation, and referral. They also offer cultural and recreational programs. Reception House receives clients by referral only.
- Career Transitions Program for Internationally Trained Physicians: CIC is the lead agency in a program that provides internationally trained physicians with comprehensive employment preparation, to support their entry into health sector employment.
- Employment Assistance: In the year 2000, working with five partner agencies, CIC established ‘World Skills’. A specialized service to help newcomers find employment, World Skills helps over 3,000 people each year through a variety of programs and services.
- Community Facilitator Program: In partnership with the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board, CIC coordinates a group of facilitators who work to improve communication between newcomer families and schools.
- Community Cup: Initiated in 2005 by the Host Program, the Community Cup has enjoyed three successful and fun filled tournaments. Each summer over 20 teams and hundreds of spectators come out for a day of soccer, multicultural entertainment and children’s activities.
Nearly 7,000 newcomers access these services every year. It is important to note that the organization offers supports for all immigrants and refugees who live in the city of Ottawa regardless of race, culture, language, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation.
CIC works in collaboration with the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and partners with many agencies across the region. The organization is an active member of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) and the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR).