A new app designed for immigrants and refugees new to British Columbia has been unveiled.  Called Arrival Advisor, it was created by PeaceGeeks.

“We’re a non-profit organization based in Vancouver,” says PeaceGeeks fund development manager Patrick Estey.

“We discovered that one in three newcomers to Canada were unaware of the services available to them.  So it’s an app that we created to help newcomers, immigrants, refugees coming to British Columbia settle more effectively.”

According to the Stats Canada 2016 census, there were more than 7,430 recent immigrants to Victoria.

“Most [newcomers] arrive with a cell phone because it’s actually a lifeline for refugees, while they are being displaced, and while they are in displacement,” says Sabine Lehr, a manager of private sponsorship of refugees.

“I can see sponsorship groups probably being users of this app,” says Lehr, “as they are responsible for helping the newcomers settling into their community.”

The Intercultural Association, or ICA as it’s known, is intrigued with the Arrival Advisor app.

“A lot of our newcomers that come to Canada, to Victoria, are very tech-savvy,” says Winnie Lee, ICA Director of Operations.

“This is all new for us as well. This is our first time using the app. We’re looking forward to seeing how it will support the services that we provide.  Face-to-face is always, of course, more beneficial for newcomers, but we’re hoping this will compliment our services.”

“It is multilingual,” says Estey, “so it’s available right now in French, English and Arabic.  As of July, it will be available in traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Korean, Tagalog and Punjabi.”

With information on various topics including housing, employment, healthcare, banking and government programs, PeaceGeeks hope the app will become a one-stop-shop for immigrants and refugees settling across B.C.

“We just would love feedback,” says Estey, about the launch of the app.  “This is the first version of Arrival Advisor available right now, so send us your feedback at ArrivalAdvisor.ca.”

Veronica Cooper