Victoria Immigrant & Refugee Centre Society

To assist in the settlement and adjustment of immigrants and refugees in Canada, and to provide services designed to increase the newcomer's participation in Canadian society, by assisting the newcomer to overcome barriers.

Victoria Immigrant and Refugree Centre Society logoOur Impact Why We Exist

The Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS) is a non-profit organization founded in November 1989 by three former refugees. The centre helps immigrants, refugees, new Canadian citizens, and visible minorities settle and adapt into their new lives in Greater Victoria. The multicultural staff annually serve an average of 3,000 clients from all over the world.

Our Story What We Do

VIRCS provides a wide range of services to its target group, assisting them with everything from settling in Victoria to finding a job. Over the years, the centre has developed positive relationships with other organizations, service providers, the local business community, and the community at large.

Our Programs How We Do It

Enable Youth Program: Since 1997, the Enable Program has been serving immigrant and refugee children and youth in between the ages of 6-25 settle into Canadian society. All activities within the Enable Program are designed to address social, emotional and academic settlement needs. Program services include: in-school art therapy, SPARKS – an after school children’s program, homework club and individualized tutoring, youth activity night, a life skills program, and a summer camp.

Settlement Program: The Newcomer Wraparound Program (NWP) is designed to assist newcomers, permanent residents, and refugees of all ages who face barriers in settlement as they start a new life in Canada. In many cases, clients are fleeing traumatic or stressful situations that have negatively impacted their physical and mental well-being. Services are client-driven, culturally sensitive, and are tailored towards promoting independence in relation to community engagement, language competency, happy and healthy living, and acquiring employment and suitable housing. Program services include: Food Skills for Families, Food Safe and First Aid training, computer classes, men’s, women’s, moms and seniors groups, onsite daycare, assistance with legal, financial and healthcare issues, and youth support programs.

Employment Programs: The WorkBC employment program assists Permanent Residents (PR) and new Canadian citizens. The program aids clients with finding, gaining, and maintaining employment. Services include: employment counselling, a job search club, résumé and cover letter assistance, and Food Safe and WHMIS training. The Skills Connect program is a separate service that is offered to Permanent Residents and New Canadian citizens who have had their PR status for five years or less. Skills Connect assists internationally educated and skilled professionals in gaining proper credentials and continuing their professional lives here in Canada.

ESL (English as a Second Language) Program: The ESL program is open to all newcomers, including immigrants, refugees, and international visitors. Classes are available for beginner, intermediate and advanced ESL speakers. We offer flexible tuition fees, continuous enrollment, and experienced teachers. VIRCS also delivers on-going language testing, including the CELPIP-General Test for Canadian immigration, and the CELPIP-General LS Test for Canadian citizenship.

What You Can Do

General Monetary Donations. The Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS) helps over 3,000 immigrants and refugees every year. We are committed to helping newcomers transition to a new life in Canada and we need your help! Your support helps us meet the needs of newcomers. As a charitable society we are able to give a tax deductible receipt for any donation over $10. Through your support we can continue to make a difference in the lives of newcomers as they arrive and settle into Victoria.

Overall Agency Needs: There are a variety of ways that the general public can continue to support our many program services. Other than general monetary donations, the agency has a multitude of current needs and volunteering opportunities that can go a long way in ensuring that our programs can continue to run optimally and sustainably.

Current Needs:

  • camping equipment and mats for the youth program
  • grocery/food gift certificates for events and workshops
  • school supplies for tutoring
  • bus passes and tickets for all programs
  • winter celebration children’s gifts
  • donations of goods and/or services for silent auction events and raffles
  • gifts in kind - door prizes, refreshments, gift certificates, etc.

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • legal information clinic
  • tax clinic
  • employment counselling clinic
  • tutors
  • child and youth activity leaders
  • youth camp leaders
  • employment mentors
  • employment workshop volunteers
  • fundraising
  • assisting with translation and interpretation
  • assistance with organizing multicultural events and festivals

Please visit for more details.


David Amrik Lau
Executive Director
250.361.9433 x215
Charitable Number: 892568783RR0001

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