Surrey LIP relaunches to make Surrey a place where immigrants and refugees thrive, becoming a recognized leader in building an equitable and inclusive city for all.
The number of immigrants and refugees coming to Canada are on the rise — more than 400,000 newcomers will be arriving each year for the next three years. Surrey continues to be a top destination in BC growing by 10,000 new residents each year, outpacing other cities in the province in welcoming newcomers.
With a diverse and growing population, this coordinated, community-driven approach to welcome and help newcomers find their place in the community, as well as move issues of diversity and inclusion forward will benefit all Surrey residents. The Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) was first launched in 2014 to bring interested community partners and service providers — from immigrant settlement agencies, to municipal organizations, to local businesses — together at one table to do just that.
Funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, there are LIPs in communities across Canada, which are convened by local organizations and municipalities. In 2020, Surrey LIP, now convened by DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, has 30+ members (see list of members here), and is led by new co-chairs: Brenda Locke, Surrey City Councillor and Neelam Sahota, CEO of DIVERSEcity.
“It is a privilege to serve on the Surrey Local Immigration Partnership,” said Councillor Brenda Locke. “My dream, my goal for Surrey is to become known as a model city that extends our hand to all residents equally to embrace, support and celebrate their immense potential. A city where there is no one left behind.”
“As a long-time resident of Surrey and the CEO of Surrey’s first settlement organization, I am honoured to serve as co-chair of the Surrey Local Immigration Partnership,” said Neelam Sahota. “I look forward to working with the partnership of all community organizations and individuals in our city to ensure we become a globally recognized leader in building vibrant, sustainable communities through the equitable access to resources and opportunities for everyone that calls this beautiful city home.”
Through the recent challenges presented by the pandemic, the Surrey LIP has adapted its approach and continues striving to be a platform where all voices of Surrey are heard, and the feedback is taken to service providers and other community partners to develop solutions and address gaps in services. The Surrey LIP is also launching four Newcomer Advisory Roundtables (Middle Eastern communities, African communities, skilled newcomers and youth); an Indigenous and Newcomer Communities Roundtable to foster reconciliation with local First Nations; and an Employer Advisory Roundtable to better understand Surrey’s labour market, along with other sector tables (Settlement, Employment, Youth Services) to increase collaboration amongst service providers and numerous working groups that provide opportunities for those who are not on the council to have their voices included.
ABOUT SURREY LIP’S CO-CHAIRS
Surrey is part of our family. For 39 years, my husband and I, along with our kids and now our grandkids, have enjoyed all that Surrey has to offer, from its parks and sports fields, to recreational facilities and arts and cultural opportunities. I shop local because I know and support my neighbours and their businesses. My advocacy for the people of Surrey is sincere and comes from strong and far-reaching roots. I have volunteered in many capacities over the decades including with the Surrey Urban Mission, an organization that works to assist those in need. In my paid employment, my proven track record of developing strategic partnerships and building bridges between organizations is something I can draw upon now to benefit the people of Surrey. As an MLA and provincial Cabinet Minister, I worked to bring SFU as well as the RCMP “E” Division to Surrey. During my 25 years of experience as an Executive Director of non-profit organizations, I advanced numerous high-profile issues by forging excellent working relationships with government, non-profit and the business community. Current Committees and Community Groups: Metro Vancouver Board – Alternate; Metro Vancouver Industrial Lands Strategy Task Force; City of Surrey Social Equity and Diversity Committee (Chair); and City of Surrey Parcel Tax Roll Review Panel Member.
Neelam Sahota is a senior executive with more than 20 years of experience in all aspects of leadership with a focus on building strategic partnerships. To her role as Chief Executive Officer of DIVERSEcity, Neelam brings extensive experience that has spanned the corporate sector, provincial government, entrepreneurship and non-profit industries. Neelam is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CGA) and holds a Certificate in Executive Leadership. She is also an alumna of Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. Neelam has in-depth experience in board governance, risk assessment and strategic planning and is the Board Chair of Surrey Libraries, Board Director and past Treasurer of the Immigrant Employment Council of BC as well as an Advisory Board Member of OMNI TV at Rogers Communications and for Solid State Industries.
Her work in the social and economic development of Surrey is based on creating community impact through resource connections, innovative economic drivers and values-based community partnerships. Neelam is a 2020 YWCA Women of Distinction nominee in the non-profit category, a recipient of the 2020 Drishti Award in the Excellence in Community Engagement category as well as the past recipient of the Surrey Board of Trade Women in Business Award and the Shakti Award for Leadership Excellence.