Saamis Immigration Services Association (SISA) is a government-funded non-profit organization which has been assisting in the integration, adjustment and resettlement of immigrants and refugees in the communityof Medicine Hat since its opening in 1988. This year will be our 30th anniversary!
We are proud to provide a support system which fosters individual and family needs in an environment of equality and dignity. We provide full-time language instruction classes, settlement services, and support workers in the school system for our newcomer families.
In addition, we have many worthwhile volunteer opportunities and programming, and we are happy to organize and host inclusion and educational events for newcomers as well as the larger community.
The existence of SISA was the result of a gap in settlement services for newcomers to Medicine Hat in 1988. In an effort to fill this gap, a board of 12 like-minded individuals came together to make a positive change in the integration of newcomers to the City. The Board originally secured federal funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and provincial funding from the Alberta Economic Development and Trade Ministry to support the proposed settlement services and programs. The agency began as a dedicated staff of onewho provided settlement services to newcomers and developed partnerships within the community in order to serve these clients more effectively.
Due to growth in services, in 1990 SISA found a new home on Dunmore Road where the agency grew to a staff of 5 individuals who were able to provide improved and increased settlement services to newcomers. After the staff expansion, the agency moved again to the Flat Iron building across from Alexandra Middle School in 1993.
In 1995, as a result of the economic downturn and resulting funding cuts, SISA moved again to Prospect Drive SW where they also began offering full-time English classes through the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. Due to the success of this new program, in 1995 SISA had outgrown the space they were in and moved once again to 12 St NE, where it remained for the next 16 years.
The introduction and growth of the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) program, the agency acquired a secondary location for services in 2009, downtown on 3rd St SE. In 2011, the search began to house all departments into one location to increase convenience and serviceability to clients. Following some construction at the 3rd St SE location, the entire agency was able to move into the downtown location in 2013. Since then, a second building a few doors down from the office building was procured in order to expand the classroom services for LINC and centralize the office as a workspace for all departments.
- Considering it’s humble beginnings in 1988, the last 30 years has seen SISA expand and flourish into a dedicated staff of 24 employees serving newcomers in all aspects of settlement; exhibiting every day that SISA is a soft and welcoming place for newcomers to land.
Our Settlement Process and Services
When immigrants first arrive in Medicine Hat they are met by an Association staff member and a volunteer interpreter if needed. Afterwards the clients are escorted to a temporary accommodation where the intake and needs assessment is done. Based on their needs, the clients could receive help in the following areas:
- Assistance in accessing Medical & Dental Services
- Permanent Accommodation Search
- Forms filling
- Banking / Shopping
- Escorts to & from Appointments
- Daycare / School registrations
- Paraprofessional Counselling
- Health and Wellness Programs
- Referral Service
- Interpretation Services
ORIENTATION The Association provides a series of information sessions on topics essential for better orientation and quicker adaptation to life in a new community. Comprehensive Orientation Binders are handed out to all participants. The material is easy to read and contains a handy overview of important facts about life in Medicine Hat, Alberta and Canada
EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE The Association helps immigrants in preparing resumes, making contacts and developing interview techniques. Referrals to mainstream job training and further education programs are made as needed.
VOLUNTEER JOB PLACEMENT The Association helps Newcomers to find placements for volunteering in the community. Volunteers from the immigrant community regularly assist the agency in provision of various programs.
HEALTH AWARENESS PROGRAM The Association provides orientation on health issues in cooperation with the Community Health Unit. Health Clinics are held monthly. Needs are assessed & targeted through the lectures & handouts.
PROVISION OF TRANSLATORS The Association maintains an up-to-date list of persons who are able to offer translating and interpreting services to assist clients and the community whenever the need may arise.
RECREATION & ENTERTAINMENT The Association organizes various recreational activities including sporting events, social nights, picnics, & holiday celebrations.