Prairie Skies Integration Network
Find Prairie Skies Integration Network on their official website at psinetwork.ca.
What is a Local Immigration Partnership?
The Prairie Skies Integration Network is an instance of the Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) initiative now operating in Moose Jaw and region. LIPs are born when local players commit to jointly focusing their efforts on strengthening their community through re-envisioning the “mainstream” as a place where all people can fully participate, including those members who are newer and from international backgrounds. Using the LIP as a tool, a community invests in itself through resolving to enhance the economic, social, political, and civic participation of newcomers. The LIP is a collective impact model used by the community to combine its various resources to better attract, retain, and integrate its new and diverse members. In this way, it produces a more welcoming, and thus, more complex, interconnected, engaged, involved and resilient community. LIPS exist to effect strengthened communities and improved overall integration of newcomers.
A report was completed in 2017 to explore and advise on the concept of a LIP in our region. It looked at the need for an immigration partnership, the viability of the model, and the features of our particular potential LIP. Many times, throughout the report, the group known as the Newcomer Services Steering Committee (NSSC), a subcommittee of the Community Based Coalition (formerly the South Central Regional Intersectoral Committee—the RIC) was described as a LIP-like body and it was acknowledged that the NSSC provides a good foundation for the work of a LIP. It is important to acknowledge that the partner-based work that the Prairie Skies Integration Network will be undertaking was substantially initiated and reinforced by collective bodies such as the RIC, the CBC, and the NSSC.
Why an Immigration Partnership?
The work of orienting and welcoming newcomers and settling them into their new environment is the responsibility of settlement agencies like MJMC, right?
While settlement service providing organizations like MJMC are irreplaceable in addressing the specialized needs of newcomers and in encouraging communities to step up their “welcome game”, integration can only be accomplished to the extent that it originates in each and every community player, whether individual or organizational. Newcomer adaptation, as each individual encounters and acclimatizes to their new surroundings, is one half of the equation. The other half, however, involves the community grasping its role in the shared benefits that result when residents can fully engage in their societies, and as a result of this, acts to bring about this outcome.
How Does a LIP work?
LIPs work by creating a system that invites increasing local engagement in integrating newcomers. This system, overseen by a Partnership Council, builds on existing local strengths and resources. Through formal agreements, a broad-based partnership council is established and charged with developing and implementing welcoming and inclusive strategies for the local context. Partnerships are built with stakeholders such as employers, school boards, health centres and networks, boards of trade, levels of government, professional associations, ethno-cultural organizations, faith-based organizations, the community and social services sectors, established community members, and, of course, “newcomer representatives”, themselves.
The LIP model is one of the initiatives through which IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada), the federal body charged with overseeing immigration policy in Canada, supports communities in playing their part in addressing the needs of newcomers while simultaneously strengthening themselves through harnessing the benefits of being well-integrated with their newcomer populations.