ouver Island Multicultural Society is celebrating its 35th anniversary and it has come a long way in that time.
According to Hilde Schlosar, society executive director, it was formed in 1979 to deal with an influx of Vietnamese refugees due to the Vietnam War. The scope has broadened since then to include such groups as immigrants, new citizens and more recently, temporary foreign workers.
There have been stories of people taking advantage of the foreign workers, something said Schlosar said the society hears about often.
“Especially the last five or six years with the large number coming for low-skilled jobs, we have heard about labour standard abuses and in fact, we’ve recently had a case you might’ve seen on [the news] about what was actually a human trafficking case,” she said.
She said the society is now able to assist with recent funding from the provincial government. It is able to help the workers navigate systems and understand Canadian customs and way of life.
“They’re shopping, they’re doing business, they’re banking, they’re participating in many different things in the community and we’re the ones that give them the tools to be able to do it and understand what our processes are. Everything from our traffic laws to our medical system to our banking system to how to do a Canadian-style resumé and what employers expect,” Schlosar said.
With the 35th anniversary, the society partnered with Nanaimo Museum for Canada: Day 1, an exhibit about immigration from the early 20th century, which runs until Sept. 1.