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

Just Posted

Victoria Women’s Expo showcases the latest trends

Over 100 vendors feature lots of beauty, health, food, jewelry products and more

Songhees Wellness Centre event immersed in indigenous cuisine and culture

Camosun and Songhees cook together for reconciliation while fundraising for student scholarship fund at March 23 event

‘Killer’ teaches boxing basics

Step-by-step moves can be practised at home

Roses – for beauty and bees

For decades I’ve envied my sister’s ability to grow stunning roses. She… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. Mounties reunite veteran with lost military medals

RCMP say Zora Singh Tatla, who served in the army in India for 28 years, is the righful owner

Women’s Expo seeks to empower women this weekend

Victoria Women’s Expo set for Saturday and Sunday at Pearkes Recreation Centre

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Canucks snap scoreless streak but fall short in 5-3 loss to Sharks

Swiss forward Timo Meier nets two, including the game-winner, to lead San Jose

4 facts to ring in St. Patrick’s Day

What do you really know about the Irish celebration?

Search continues for 10-year-old Montreal boy missing since Monday

Montreal police said they are exploring every possibility in search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

Airline passenger-rights bill claws back protections for travellers: Advocate

Bill C-49 would double tarmac delays, scrap compensation for flights affected by mechanical failures

UPDATED: ‘New wave’ of anti-pipeline protests return to Trans Mountain facility

About 100 demonstrators with Protect the Inlet marched to the Burnaby terminal Saturday

Most Read