Multi-Agency Partnership (MAP) plays a unique role in the refugee claimant serving sector
MAP is a collaboration between over 40 Government, non-Government and not-for-profit agencies in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley that work with and for refugee claimants.
We are ground-breaking in our approach to find solutions and partnerships to help refugee claimants navigate the challenges of the legal process, housing, employment and ultimately successful integration into their communities in British Columbia.
We are politically neutral as a partnership and are funded through a mix of government and private grants.
MAP has one paid member of staff – our Executive Coordinator – and all other offices are held voluntarily by members following an election among the full membership. We also have an amazing team of volunteers who help with things like note taking and event organization.
To reach the MAP Coordinator please see the contact page.
A Collaborative Partnership
The mission of MAP is to work collaboratively to identify barriers and provide solutions to promote the protection and well-being of refugee claimants and service providers, by facilitating networking and information sharing.
MAP strives to ensure that refugee claimants and service providers benefit from:
- Accurate, timely information and referrals
- Access to settlement assistance, housing, legal advice, healthcare, and other social services
- Early identification of issues and trends that affect refugee claimants; and
- Development of efficient, collective solutions and responses through the collaborative work of service providers
Our core values
The values of humanity, integrity, neutrality, impartiality and respect have been fundamental to the success, credibility and effectiveness of MAP.
How MAP came to be…
In 2007 the chaplain at the airport contacted refugee serving agencies to say that he was meeting many families, single women and men emerging from their CBSA eligibility interview at all hours of the day and night who had nowhere to go for safe shelter and food, guidance and support in a new country.
Canadian Red Cross had been pioneering the ‘First Contact’ program for claimants successfully in Toronto for some years. Prompted by local NGO’s to start the same program in the BC Lower Mainland, the discussion began through a need’s assessment process carried out by the Red Cross the same year.
The process soon morphed into a wide discussion with the aim of establishing a reliable information and referral system for newly arrived claimants to prevent them falling through the cracks or being sent from one agency to another. Frequent meetings of settlement agencies, transition housing societies, lawyers, advocates from immigrant, marginalized and poverty action sectors together with government representatives from CBSA and IRCC provided a place to collaborate to this end.
To speed the process along working groups were set up with specialists in information, housing, legal matters and health working to define their areas as parts of the new inter-agency program.
By November 2008 First Contact was launched as a Red Cross program featuring multilingual volunteers covering the phone 24 hours/7 days a week to connect with newly arrived refugee claimants and help them reach safety and support.
After the launch the group – still unnamed and unstructured – made a decision to continue the dialogue as the potential of the collective proved very helpful. The group called itself MAP, (Multi-Agency Partnership) to underline the collaborative nature of decision-making within the group, and created the co-chair positions and a regular agenda.
MAP has been meeting continually since 2008 and provides a united voice for refugee claimants and a vehicle to mobilize agencies into collaborative action in the BC Lower Mainland. Some of the achievements and fruitful collaborations of MAP’s members include:
2008: First Contact – a referral on first arrival service for claimants started in November 2008
2008: Ready Tours – a collaboration between UNHCR, I.R.B. and Kinbrace started in May 2008
2013: Detainee READY Tours came into operation after discussions with CBSA and IRB at a MAP meeting
2013: 7 Navigating Refugee Reform Workshops were organized by Kinbrace in collaboration with Legal Aid BC, I.R.B, CBSA, IRCC, private lawyers and settlement agencies in Abbotsford, Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey. They were hosted by Red Cross and other MAP agencies throughout January to May.
2017: First Contact was transferred to bc211 and continues to provide emergency information and referral to newly arrived refugee claimants.
World Refugee Day Celebrations are held annually and collaboratively – educating the public and celebrating the contributions of refugee claimants each June 20.
2018: Information Working Group re-started in October 2018 to address public education and counter negative messaging about refugee claimants. It also organizes the annual World Refugee Day activities.
2018: Refugee Housing Forum was held in May 2018 – and brought together various stakeholders around housing for refugee claimants. The Report is available here
2018: The Housing Working Group was re-started and provincial funding secured to move towards a sustainable housing solution. Some initial research produced a second report: Towards a Housing Solution for Refugee Claimants in BC: A Plan for Action
2019: MAP launched the first ‘Starting Over’ public education event in Abbotsford BC.
Currently the provincial MJEDC has funded MAP through lead agency MOSAIC to produce a new Refugee Claimant Housing and Referral Management System to be delivered in the spring of 2022. MAP’s Advisory Committee oversees the detailed work of MOSAIC and is an example of how collaboration and dialogue can serve the needs of refugee claimants. More information is available to MAP members here
The mission of MAP is to ‘work collaboratively to identify barriers and provide solutions to promote the protection and well-being of refugee claimants and service providers, by facilitating networking and information sharing.’
MAP members sign an agreement to support the mission and abide by these values in their work with refugee claimants: humanity, integrity, neutrality, impartiality and respect. The neutrality of MAP has been a key element in bringing together both government and non-government agencies.
MAP is now a collaboration of more than 45 government and non-government agencies working to support refugee claimants in the BC Lower Mainland.
MAP’s approach isn’t to duplicate the work of our partner agencies, rather it’s about finding solutions in a collaborative way to the challenges that refugee claimants face when they come to BC. We’re all about finding innovative ways forward, sharing information and troubleshooting difficult issues.
MAP also provides a forum for its members and attendees to learn from peers and experts in the field. We regularly update ourselves with speakers from partner agencies, overseas agencies who work in different ways to us, and Government policy makers.
MAP meets every month as a whole group. Our agenda covers all kinds of issues related to refugee claimants – as well as agency updates and information sharing. Outside of meetings we share information that is important for service and housing providers, as well as work with all levels of Government (Municipal, Provincial and Federal) to find creative and innovative solutions to some of the challenges and issues of processing and settling refugee claimants.
Statistics and trends
Our members work with asylum seekers on their whole journey of refugee claimants – from the moment they land in Canada, through the legal and appeals process, to their path to permanent residency. We monitor statistics and trends, as well as work to prepare for any sudden increase in the number of people seeking asylum in Canada.
There are currently two working groups formed by MAP members. These are the Housing Working Group and the Information Working Group.
The partnership that MAP has formed is ground breaking in its approach in Canada and has already seen much success in solving some of the issues that refugee claimants face. You can find out more in the Impact section of this website.
We are a diverse group of organizations, but we’re united in our approach to problem solving and creating innovation in our work.
For a detailed list of our partners, please click here to visit our partners page.
Thanh Lam (she/they) lives on the unceded Coast Salish Territories and recognizes her position as an uninvited settler on these lands. Driven by her family’s lived experiences of war, torture, and forced migration as South Vietnamese refugees to Turtle Island/Canada, she has a lifelong commitment for refugee rights within a decolonization lens. She currently works in settlement and community services at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House. Thanh is excited to be a MAP co-chair and to work collaboratively with diverse folks and community organizations to support refugee wellbeing!
Sireen El-Nashar is the Executive Director of Zaytuna Services Society and an active member of MAP. Some of her work with MAP includes being a member of the MAP BCIHC Support Team, helping organize World Refugee Day 2019 and 2022, and supporting MAP’s Strategic Planning. In her work with Zaytuna she and her team embrace diversity and provide a client centered approach, helping facilitate engagement in Canadian Society.
Sireen previously served on the Diversity Advisory Committee for the City of Surrey, as Director for the District Parent Advisory Council for the Surrey School District, and on the Editorial Board for ALWASAT Arabic Newspaper (the first Arabic newspaper in BC) and she initiated the first World Refugee Day celebration in Surrey. She has been an active member on committees including the Surrey Board of Trade – Women in Business Awards, City of Surrey – Doors Open, Surrey Interfaith Council, and currently on the Fusion Festival Committee for the City of Surrey. Sireen was awarded the Serving with Distinction Award from the Surrey Cares Foundation in 2017.
“As a co-chair I would like to focus on increasing resource accessibility among the refugee claimants community” Sireen commented.