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

District of Metchosin

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The 21st annual Japanese Cultural Fair streams online Oct. 24 from noon to 3 p.m. (Facebook/Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society)
Esquimalt’s Japanese Cultural Fair takes tastes, experiences and cultures online

21st annual free event streams Saturday, Oct. 24 starting at noon

Const. Graham Walker of the Saanich Traffic Safety Unit recreates an incident involving a driver who police say attempted to film the scene of a crash while driving up Highway 17. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police track down driver caught filming accident scene on Pat Bay Highway

Driver issued $368 ticket, points on their licence

Sooke man Rik Downer spent two weeks in the Royal Jubilee Hospital after contracting flesh-eating bacteria. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Sooke man’s bumped knee leads to fight for life

Man unknowingly contracts case of rare flesh-eating disease

Victoria High School. (Black Press Media file photo)
Alumni Association abandons plans for eight-lane track at Vic High

SD61 spokesperson says easement, which makes 8-lane track impossible, left out of consultation

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Most Read