Step One Services Society is hosting the Building Our Community fundraiser in Metchosin this weekend. The event raises funds for the Vancouver Island Immigrant and Refugee Counselling Centre. (Contributed photo)

Metchosin event benefits refugees suffering trauma

Local group raising funds for immigrant counselling centre this weekend

Adrienne Carter often sees people at the weakest moment in their lives.

As one of the founders of the Vancouver Island Counselling Centre for Immigrants and Refugees, Carter helps people who are suffering from the impact of trauma.

Over the past few years, she’s heard countless horror stories of people who have fled their home country. Many male refugees were imprisoned, tortured and thrown into isolation. Women were repeatedly sexually assaulted and children watched as their homes were destroyed by bombs. Many lost friends and family in unimaginable ways.

“Many of the people here have experienced a lot of trauma and torture, but they have never been able to receive help,” said Carter, who spent more than 15 years abroad as a psychotherapist, trainer and supervisor to those who have experienced trauma. “We have entire families that have been traumatized in their country.”

But coming to Canada in search of a new life also means a chance for healing – which is what the counselling centre aims to do.

RELATED: West Shore sponsorship group still waiting arrival of refugee family

As part of the program, which runs out of the St. Peter’s Church in Saanich, roughly 20 to 25 experienced counsellors and 10 to 15 translators volunteer their time to help refugees and immigrants from more than 25 countries, including Syria, China, Thailand, Nepal, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

Refugees of all ages come from around Greater Victoria, including many in Langford and Colwood, to receive help.

Since its inception three years ago, the centre has received 171 referrals from various settlement organizations such as the Vancouver Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society and the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, as well as through sponsorship groups or medical practitioners.

When refugees come to the program, they are often depressed, angry and some are severely suicidal, Carter said. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as well.

But even after a few sessions, Carter can already see difference.

“People are getting better. You can see their improvement. Just allowing people to share what is on their heart, to talk about some of these stories is really making a difference,” she said. “They are more able to start resolving the issues that have been bothering them . . there is sense of relief that there is hope that they are going to make it.”

RELATED: West Shore group gearing up to sponsor a refugee family

Now, the Step One Services Society, a local non-profit organization, is aiming to raise funds to help the centre during an event in Metchosin this weekend.

Building Our Community is a free family-friendly event and includes live entertainment including performances by the Metchosin Marimba Band, a silent auction, refreshments, and kids activities. Funds raised go towards the centre.

“It’s about building community, it’s about creating safe communities,” said Step One Services Society secretary Nan Hsieh. “The adults that have dealt with so much, they come in with a lot of anger and justifiably, they lost everything and more. If they feel enveloped by their community and supported and they’re helped to find resources and connections, that creates in them a feeling of safety, but it also creates a feeling of community.”

Building Our Community takes place on Sunday, March 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Metchosin Community Hall (4401 William Head Rd.) For more information visit Step One Services Society on Facebook.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

kendra.wong@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Impaired driver crashes into Victoria police vehicle, injures officer

Cook Street collision occured in the early morning hours of Tuesday

Get ready for the 39th annual Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon

Up to 9,000 particpants are anticipated for this year’s three-day race weekend

Victoria police say explicit calls continue to target women

Over 50 reports of unwanted, sexually explicit calls have come in

Plaque that replaced Macdonald statue at Victoria city hall vandalized

Less than 24 hours after plaque was installed, an ‘X’ had been scratched through the centre

Weekend collisions keep West Shore RCMP busy

Officers responded to three separate incidents within the span of one hour

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

RCMP to search for body after man drowns in B.C.’s Buntzen Lake

Officers and fire crews responded but the man from the Lower Mainland is believed to have drowned.

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

‘It’s like a party in your mouth’

B.C. creator’s Milkshake Burger makes its debut at the PNE

Vehicle catches fire near Vancouver Island provincial park

Fire shut down Highway 4 in both directions

Get involved in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count

Environmental organization develops app to help with the nationwide count

Most Read