Summer Student Job Opportunity

We are delighted to offer a summer job position to an eligible student!

The Summer Camp Facilitator will assist in planning and lead the implementation of the CIS Summer Camp Program, with a focus on the integration of refugee and immigrant children and youth.  The Facilitator will develop, implement and evaluate summer camp activities.

This position is funded by Service Canada for a 9 weeks part-time position, working 32 hours weekly. The opportunity is for young people aged 18 to 30 who are full-time students intending to return to their studies and must be enrolled in post-secondary education for the next school year to meet the eligibility. APPLICATION DEADLINE: 4 pm Wednesday May 23 rd. 2017.

Click here for a full job description: Summer Camp Facilitator Profile

Interested candidates please provide resume and cover letter in PDF format to: Caro Martino, Director of Operations at


Our Condelences…

The Cowichan Intercultural Society would like to offer their deepest condolences to former Board member and long term supporter Hazura Sangha and his family. Surinder Sangha will be dearly missed.


Class Cancellations and Office Hours

Due to the VIU campus closures, inclement weather and road conditions, we have had to cancel several of this week’s regular English Language Classes, including today’s classes. The office remains open today, February 9.

Office closed due to Inclement Weather

Due to the amount of snow that has fallen and still poses safe travel issues, the Cowichan Intercultural Society has closed its office today. All English language classes are cancelled. We look forward to being of assistance to you tomorrow when we open at 9:00 am. Contact should you have any immediate concerns.

Cowichan Intercultural Society Holds Vigil for Quebec City Shooting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 30, 2017 (Duncan, BC) The Cowichan Intercultural Society welcomes all Cowichan residents to ‘Stand in Solidarity’ in response to this past weekend’s shooting attack on a mosque in Quebec City. The vigil takes place at 12 noon on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at Duncan City Square on Craig Street, where attendees will observe a moment of silence. Those unable to join the public vigil are invited to hold their moment of silence wherever they may be.

‘Our hearts go out to the families and community of Sainte Foy (Quebec City) during this sad time,’ Marcel Aubin, Cowichan Intercultural Society President states. Over the past 35 years, the Cowichan Intercultural Society has welcomed and settled over 15,000 New Canadians to the Cowichan Region, including refugees from Vietnam, Somalia, Iran and Syria. ‘Cowichan Valley residents have demonstrated time and again how neighbourly and open hearted our community is. Over the past year, Cowichan has welcomed and settled nearly 80 Syrian refugees and shown compassion and support in the families’ healthy integration as newcomers,’ applauds Aubin.

The Cowichan Intercultural Society will pay respects to the victims and their families while calling to action a commitment to stand in solidarity for diversity and inclusion. City of Duncan Mayor Phil Kent expressed, ‘ in response to acts of hatred and violence, Canadians rise above with strength and love. This vigil signifies our community’s commitment to stand in solidarity for those targeted by discrimination and intolerance.’

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Media Release in .pdf


Jennifer Yee Fairweather
Intercultural Partnership Network Coordinator
Cowichan Intercultural Society
205 – 394 Duncan St
Duncan BC V9L 3W4

P: 250.748.3112 ext 209
F: 250.748.1335

About the Cowichan Intercultural Society

The Cowichan Intercultural Society (CIS) is spearheading the movement to welcome and support refugees to the community.   CIS is the leading immigrant and refugee aid organization in the region. We facilitate mutual respect, trust, support and education in the culturally diverse Cowichan Valley. Our vision is of an inclusive and welcoming community, where every person feels valued and has a sense of belonging. Learn more at

160 Thank You’s to 100 Women Who Care Cowichan


Ahmad Alsairawan, a 30 year old teacher and school principal. Mom, Nawal Arar is a 26 year old high school teacher. Omar Alsairawan is almost 3 years old. (Photo submitted by Rhoda Taylor)

“This We Can Do” Private Sponsor Group member Rhoda Taylor made a passionate call to action at 100 Women Who Care Cowichan’s first gathering to decide on a recipient nonprofit organization for the individual donations collected from 160 of Cowichan’s philanthropists.

The outcome was a generous gift of $16,000 to support the welcome and settlement of a new Syrian refugee family to Cowichan.

An elated Rhoda states, “while the $16,000 is so inspirational, more work needs to be done. Please don’t think we as a community are done helping. There are other families who have already settled here that still need assistance. And many more families in crisis who need to come to Canada.”

Going beyond basic settlement services, the Cowichan Intercultural Society offers support to sponsorship groups wanting to assist a refugee family in coming to Canada.  As a Sponsorship Agreement Holder, the Intercultural Society is in a unique position to help groups of Canadians sponsor and ultimately help a new family in our community.  The commitment to sponsor is for 12 months of emotional and financial support for a refugee/refugee family resettling to our community.

“We are so inspired by what is possible in our community, and by the impact of this amazing gathering of women.  $16,000 in one night – and the first gathering of this chapter!” acknowledges Lynn Weaver, Cowichan Intercultural Society’s Executive Director. “We are grateful for the support of 100 Women Cowichan for sustaining this sponsored family in the first year of their resettlement journey.”


Interested in developing your own sponsor group to help a Syrian refugee family in crisis? Join us for a free information session on January 12, 2017.

Full media release in .pdf: 100 Women Cowichan media release

Thank You to Generous Cowichan Community

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  (Duncan, BC) Intercultural Society Grateful to Generous Cowichan Community

One year after residents began welcoming in the Cowichan Valley, as part of a national resettlement movement, we would like to thank the hundreds of members of our community who individually and collectively have contributed to sponsoring and welcoming refugees to the Warmland.  In one year, over 80 Syrian refugees have resettled in our valley, and more are to come.

As the Canadian Council for Refugees recently stated, “the generosity of the public has been humbling. Whether it is high school students preparing welcome baskets, seniors knitting hats and scarves, individuals donating time and money to privately sponsor refugees, neighbours taking newly arrived children to hockey practice, or people, businesses, unions, faith and cultural communities, and social groups offering all manner of support, Canadians have shown once again that we are at our best when we reach out to welcome our future fellow citizens.”

This sentiment couldn’t be any more applicable to the generosity expressed from members of the Cowichan community during the past twelve months.  Numerous private sponsorship groups, religious groups, school groups, families and individuals have come together to offer their support in a variety of ways – from volunteering countless hours in support of refugee families to ensuring that we have sufficient donations to cover the many needs of these newcomers.  If it wasn’t for the individual and collective generosity of these members of our community, this resettlement effort would not be as successful as it has been.

Our work is not over yet.  Federal funding to government sponsored Syrian refugees runs out after one year, and for many of the families in the Cowichan Valley, that date is imminent.  Support is still needed to ensure the most successful outcomes possible for these families.  The Cowichan Intercultural Society continues to welcome financial donations, volunteers who would like to support refugees and immigrants, and we continue to solicit specific donations for these families through our membership.

Are you interested in learning more about what it takes to become a sponsor, or are you interested in learning more about the sponsorship process in general?  On Thursday, January 12th, the Cowichan Intercultural Society will be hosting a one-hour Prospective Sponsor Workshop/Info Session, from 5:30-6:30pm in our office (Suite 205, 394 Duncan Street – the Cowichan Professional Building).

Over three decades ago, CIS was born as a response to the Vietnamese refugee crisis. Now, another generation of Canadians, including former refugees, are opening their arms to embrace diversity, inclusion, and to enrich their own lives, by welcoming Syrian refugees to the Cowichan Valley. On behalf of all of us involved in settlement services, and on behalf of our refugee clients, we’d like to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU!

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Read this as a .pdf: one year of sponsorships

Syrian Art Comes to the Cowichan Valley – ‘Behind the Lines ‘Bridges Cultures, Celebrates the Human Spirit


November 15, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  (Duncan, BC) Syrian Artists “Come” to the Cowichan Valley – Behind the Lines Bridges Cultures, Celebrates the Human Spirit.

A year since the Canadian government committed to welcoming Syrian refugees into our communities, are we any more knowledgeable about the diverse and rich culture of this war torn land? For the first time on Vancouver Island, a collection** of contemporary Syrian art Behind the Lines will be on display at Duncan United Church from November 27 to December 3 – with a special opening reception on November 27 – and at Brentwood College School in Mill Bay from December 10 to 17.

Penticton Art Gallery Curator Paul Crawford brings “powerful, raw, and striking” images from nineteen Syrian artists to the heart of Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley. Exhibit visitors will have the opportunity to see the conflict in Syria from a Syrian perspective, while contributing to the well-being of the artists (most still live in Syria) and their communities.

In strokes of colour and imagery that “is a testament to the capacity of the human spirit”, the exhibit draws viewers into Syria in a way that few other media can. Each work speaks eloquently, containing and reflecting the passion of the artists creating them.

Contacted by a small group coordinated by the Cowichan Intercultural Society, Mr. Crawford shares the exhibit at no cost, hoping the artists might connect with others in the world beyond the bombs. The Faculty of Social Sciences, Vancouver Island University, has arranged for Mr. Crawford to speak about the exhibit and the artists on November 28, while other partners (including VIU Faculty Association) have offered to help defray travel costs and provide space for the exhibit without charge. Admission to the exhibit is by donation.

Please come down and let your eyes inform your heart of what the mind can sometimes not fully comprehend…Syria…today…as narrated by the young hands of her artists.

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Contact: Jennifer Yee Fairweather, Intercultural Partnership Coordinator, Cowichan Intercultural Society

Full Media Release – syrian-art-exhibit-release-2016-11-15

Behind the Lines Event Poster – behind-the-lines-cowichan-poster-final-final

**A selection of the full exhibit will be available for viewing. Review catalogue of the full exhibit  and the artists’ profiles that was displayed at the Penticton Art Gallery – syrian-cat-np-1


About the Cowichan Intercultural Society

The Cowichan Intercultural Society (CIS) is spearheading the movement to welcome and support refugees to the community.   CIS is the leading immigrant and refugee aid organization in the region. We facilitate mutual respect, trust, support and education in the culturally diverse Cowichan Valley. Our vision is of an inclusive and welcoming community, where every person feels valued and has a sense of belonging. Learn more at

About Vancouver Island University

Known as a centre of excellence for teaching, applied research and learning, Vancouver Island University (VIU) is a dynamic, internationally known university supporting a student population of 18,000 learners, including 1,800 international students and approximately 2,000 Indigenous students. One of VIU’s core values is to build collaborative and reciprocal relationships with community and educational partners to provide relevant support to the cultural, economic, environmental and social needs of the regions we serve. As well, the university promotes awareness of global issues and conditions by supporting a thriving study-abroad program and fostering knowledge and skills oriented toward ecological and social sustainability. Learn more at

About Brentwood College School

Brentwood College School is a progressive, co-educational boarding school for Grades 9 to 12 located on a spectacular 77-acre oceanfront campus in Mill Bay, BC. At Brentwood, student choice is a unique part of our culture and a deciding factor in who attends the School, Brentwood truly is where students choose to be. Learn more at

About Duncan United Church

Duncan United Church is located in the heart of the Cowichan Valley, kitty corner from the post office in downtown Duncan, BC. A centre of Spiritual reflection and community conversation, the church is known for thoughtful engagement, prophetic witness, and direct support. Duncan United sponsors one of the many Syrian families who now call the Cowichan home. The sponsorship program, like the exhibit, is a collaboration between Duncan United and many folk from throughout the valley, and beyond. Together, we are creating a better world. Learn more at

SAVE THE DATE! One World Festival Coming September 17th!

SAVE THE DATE FOR ONE WORLD FESTIVAL – September 16 & 17, 2016

July 25, 2016 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: (Duncan, BC) One World Festival is the cultural event of the year! You won’t want to miss the celebrations on September 16 & 17, 2016 at the grounds adjacent to the Cowichan Campus of Vancouver Island University.

One World Festival 2016 will be a grand celebration of diversity, showcasing the vibrant cultures of the Cowichan Valley. This event fosters opportunities for open dialogue between cultural groups and promotes collaboration and togetherness as our community works to overcome cultural barriers discourage racism, prejudice, and misunderstandings – creating a healthier community. One World Festival will enrich, educate, and inspire people to work together to create a more inclusive community.

Be immersed in the intercultural music and entertainment throughout the event, including the Eye Opener Films Festival (Friday), cultural expo, cultural fashion show, international food vendors and much more (Saturday)! We are also delighted to partner with the Walk of the Nations, kicking off the opening ceremony to our event on Saturday!

The Festival will also celebrate the Cowichan Intercultural Society’s 35 year history of welcoming newcomers to the Cowichan Valley and building more inclusive communities! We are excited to present a walk down the Intercultural Society’s History Lane with a visual display of our work and the many newcomers who have settled here over the years.

For more information about One World Festival, check us out online at Contact us at or 250.748.3112 to get involved as a sponsor, vendor or volunteer. Learn more about the Cowichan Intercultural Society at

The Cowichan Intercultural Society (CIS) is spearheading the movement to welcome and support refugees to the community. CIS is Cowichan Valley’s immigrant and refugee support organization. We facilitate mutual respect, trust, support and education in the culturally diverse Cowichan Valley. Our vision is of an inclusive and welcoming community, where every person feels valued and has a sense of belonging.


Carolina Martino or Pema W. Rigzin
Festival Coordinatosr


Exciting New Employment Opportunity!

Join the movement to building more welcoming and inclusive communities!

Check out the latest job posting for Childcare Coordinator 2016 external at the Cowichan Intercultural Society. Posting closes Tuesday, August 2nd.