Photo Credit: Olsen Imaging

Our Community Project Granting program helps regional residents of any age, experience, or background take part in building community.  This fall we awarded grant funding to the Kamloops Immigrant Services Society for their tutoring and mentoring program. This program provides newcomer students with access to academic support and a mentor. This program strives to help students experience academic progress in school and ease their transition into the Canadian school system and their new community.

Here’s what the Kamloops-Cariboo Regional Immigrant Society had to say about themselves and how this program helped participants in our region:

Kamloops-Cariboo Regional Immigrant Society has been offering tutoring services to school-age children and youth since October 2020 with the financial assistance of Canada Emergency Community Support Fund flowing through the United Way. The agency collaborated with teachers in School District 73 to provide newcomer immigrant students with the necessary support as they transition into their new community. Through this, the agency was able to work with qualified educators to provide newcomer students with academic support and the individualized attention required to promote academic achievements. Last year, the agency expanded the tutoring program by including mentoring sessions for newcomer students. The mentoring sessions provided students with tools for self-care, essential life skills and strategies to navigate various challenges associated with transitioning into a new community. Following are stories from the agency’s mentoring and tutoring program offered to newcomer students. These mentoring and tutoring sessions provided newcomer students with an opportunity to form meaningful relationships and learn different skills as they transition into a new community.
  • Mentoring- Helping Students Achieve their Goals:

Through the mentoring and tutoring program, graduating students were able to connect with mentors who are in a field of work in which they are interested in. For example, the program worked with a grade 12 student who wants to be in the trades program. However, this student was deferred by the program due to his language skills. This caused him and his family a great deal of disappointment and frustration. Through the mentoring and tutoring program, the student worked with a tutor to improve his language skills. Eventually, the student was able to connect with a mentor who works in trades. This student visits his mentor once a week and connects over activities in trades. This gave the student a strong start and increased his confidence for the trades program.

  • Collaboration with Thompson Rivers University:

Building Resilience in Newcomer Students by Integrating Social-Emotional Learning Strategies into the Science Curriculum through Experiential Learning and Storytelling Newcomer students are susceptible to isolation due to socio-economic, language, cultural barriers and challenges associated with immigration such as grief and loss of leaving their families behind. Education is an important factor for newcomer families to break the cycle of poverty and thrive in their new communities. However, the ability for newcomer students to experience meaningful learning and achieve graduation is often hindered by numerous trauma and barriers associated with immigration. With several researchers demonstrating the psychophysical healing effects of the natural environment, the mentoring and tutoring program integrated social-emotional learning strategies into the science curriculum by conducting experiential learning in the outdoor setting for newcomer students. Newcomer students were mentored by university students in the science program where they complete a monthly science challenge in nature. Through each monthly challenge, students will be exposed to a new scientific concept, social emotional learning strategy and indigenous story associated with the land. Students’ learning gains are demonstrated by their school attendance, well-being and enthusiasm for environmental conservation.

  • Tutoring and Conversation Circles in Schools:

Through the agency’s partnership with English Language Learner teachers in School District 73, a mentor from Kamloops Immigrant Services was able to participate in weekly conversation circles with English language learner students across School District 73. Students were given a copy of Big Life Journal for reflection. During each session, students were able to explore different strategies for Social-Emotional wellbeing while having meaningful conversations that support their transition.

  • Kindness Project:

Last year, our students participated in a Kindness Project Workshop. In this group mentoring workshop, students practiced different strategies for self-care while giving back to the community. During the sessions, our students crafted and donated 100 toys to the SPCA for pets that have been evacuated due to the wildfire. Participants also created 24 care packages for individuals in need and raised money for charity via a lemonade stand. This year, our students will be creating more care packages for individuals in need. These care packages will be given to PITSTOP at the end of spring. Students will also be crafting a card with kind messages for individuals accessing services at Pit Stop.

  • Pen Pal Program:

The agency collaborated with Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society on a Pen Pal program last year. Students will continue writing to their pen pal starting in May this year. The pen pal program is a platform for peer-based and self-directed learning among newcomer and Canadian students in the community. The program will directly impact education within the community by building positive connections, raising students’ wellness, academic performance at school, joy of learning, and confidence while transitioning into the Canadian school system.

Throughout the year, students participating in the MET program demonstrated more confidence which led to consistent attendance in school. Students also experienced academic progress in school with the average grades of each student taking part in the program increasing over the previous school year.