Vancouver Island Refugee Response Team


Enabling Syrian Newcomers and Their Integration on Vancouver Island

An initiative of the BC Government

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Since 2015, Canada has welcomed 30,000 Syrian newcomers. Most of our new Canadian neighbors have experienced intense trauma and separation from loved ones. In response to the needs to settle Syrian families in an inclusive and inviting way, the provincial governments have created teams across the country to enable communities the inclusion of Syrians.

The Vancouver Island Refugee Response Team (VIRRT) is one of the many teams initiated and enforced by the BC Provincial Government. VIRRT was created to address the urgent, the short-term, the long-term needs for Syrian refugees coming to Vancouver Island.

The most important needs that we have identified are:

1. Housing affordability

2. Access to language instruction

3. Culturally sensitive healthcare services

4. Meaningful employment.

If you are a stakeholder, private sponsor or settlement worker, please explore this site for resources and connect to our partners so that Syrian families can be assisted in your community.

meet the team

In March of 2016, the BC Provinical Government awarded the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS) with the Refugee Response Grant. Our team is supported by VIRCS and aims to collaborate with all community stakeholders. The VIRRT knows that without the many members involved, the work cannot get done and Syrian newcomers are without assistance.


Alvaro Moreno, Chair
Andrea Westfall, Co-Coordinator
Alix Hotsenpiller, Coordinator



David Lau
Executive Director, VIRCS

Christina Culham
Senior Manager, Regional Housing

Kelly McBride
Acting Executive Director, Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society (CVIMS)

Jean McRae
Executive Director, Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA)

Lynne Weaver
Executive Director, Cowichan Intercultural Society (CIS)

Ian Humphries
Dean for School of Access, Camosun College


Dr. Dee Hoyano
Medical Officer, Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA)

Jim Brennan
Executive Director, Multicultural and Immigrant Services Association (MISA)

Jordan Perrault
Employment Specialist, BC Construction Federation

John Reilly
Manager Housing, Policy and Programs, CRD

Jim Cambridge
Superintendent, Greater Victoria School District 62