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Two programs in the city of Fort St. John have been focusing on increasing the awareness and inclusivity of immigrant and newcomer populations.

The Welcoming and Inclusive Communities and Workplaces Program – Knowledge Development and Exchange Project is the first project that ran for six months and included residents and businesses from the city to participate and exchange information.

Danielle Armstrong, executive director of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Fort St. John, says she found the number of people who developed a better understanding of the challenges facing immigrant populations was notable.

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Armstrong says they had around 70 people from various businesses, non-profit organizations, and people from the community attend a conference in May that included speakers from across the country. The conference also included workshops designed for immigrants and newcomers about accessing community services.

What developed out of the conference, she says, was that people are interested in having a community plan with tangible ideas on making the city more inclusive.

The immigrant population including non-Canadians, non permanent residents, newcomers, and immigrants in Fort St. John is approximately eight per cent according to the 2006 community profile, she says.

The second project is an 18-month Welcoming and Inclusive Communities and Workplaces program running until May, 2011 involving community events that incorporate multiculturalism, such as the World Fair.

Armstrong says there is a planning table with representatives from various organizations in which residents can also participate.

Anyone interested in being a part of the planning table can contact Leslie Oliver from S.U.C.C.E.S.S at 250-785-5323.

The report from the six-month knowledge exchange program can be viewed below.

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