Collaboration for inclusion: How the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria reaches thousands yearly in the capital region

“It takes a village to raise a child.” This adage has been appropriated countless times and in countless contexts to communicate the value of community-mobilizing efforts. Despite the cliché it has become, organizations such as Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) aim to prove its veracity.

Each year, the not-for-profit organization pursues its mission to facilitate the integration of thousands of newcomers in the B.C. capital region by leveraging the collective capacity of its many partners, community agencies and donors.

In light of the upcoming World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on May 21, they hope to join in celebrating the B.C. groups that foster collaboration to champion belonging and inclusion in the province.

Trust for change

For over 50 years, the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria has welcomed and supported newcomers through its wide-ranging services. Last year, the ICA organized over 30 programs, including language programs, community-building and employment support for around 3,000 newcomers in the Greater Victoria Area. And while responding to the immediate needs of newcomers has become an integral part of ICA’s mission, its manager of strategic engagement Quinton Gordon says the organization was initially focused more on encouraging intra-communal dialogue in the region.

Photo courtesy of the ICA of Greater Victoria

“ICA was established 52 years ago, originally as a cultural organization celebrating diversity in the community and bridging inter-cultural connections”, recalls Gordon. “As the organization moved into newcomer services for those fleeing the Vietnam war, ICA retained its focus on community alongside the growing requirements for client services.”

Since then, the ICA responded to unexpected fluxes of newcomers in their region, helping them settle in. In the past eight years, the organization has served more than 1,500 refugees, most recently including 500 displaced Ukrainians following the 2022 Russian invasion.

In 2015, the ICA played a key role in the settlement of Syrian refugees in Victoria at the height of the country’s refugee crisis. The organization was awarded Royal Roads University’s Chancellor’s Community Recognition Award in 2016 for this. With the ICA being a trusted provincial partner to support government-assisted refugees in B.C.’s capital, Gordon attributes the ICA’s impact and recognition to its goal of meeting any person’s needs, and having the network and programs to do it.

The Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria aims to help new arrivals to not only make their way on the island, but to thrive as well. | Photo courtesy of the ICA of Greater Victoria

“Our decades of community work and our focus on working with community partners who are already doing great work, has established a lot of trust and a well-developed muscle for collaboration”, Gordon says. “This means that we can respond to emerging needs relatively quickly and engage the skills and knowledge of our partners to provide quality services to those that need them.”

Fostering community connections

Gordon says the ICA also aims to help people thrive by going a step further and facilitating their access to employment and settlement resources, skills and other necessities. For example, its recently-created biking groups aim to allow the people that the ICA serves to better explore their environment, improve their physical health and promote meaningful connections.

And beyond helping newcomers improve their mental health, Gordon says there’s a keen focus on giving new arrivals room to express themselves and find and create a community in that process.

“Through initiatives like our arts-based outreach projects such as im:print, community theatre productions that bring Indigenous, immigrant, refugee and settler stories to the stage, we create opportunities for people to come together, and that helps shape a stronger future through open dialogue and shared human experiences,” says Gordon.

For more information on ICA, please visit:

For more information on World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, go to:

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