Panel: Economic Contributions of Refugees, Immigrants, and Newcomers

Maryam Razzaghfamian and Yousef Hadla at IEC-BC's Tapping Into New Talent Conference_CreditIEC

Photo Credit: IEC-BC

Join us for a series of panel presentations that will illustrate the various important contributions that government-assisted refugees, refugee claimants, immigrants and other newcomers make to our communities. Students, faculty members, employers, settlement sector representatives, and community members are all welcome to attend!

Date: Thursday, October 19th
Time: 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Robson Square, UBC – HSBC Room, 800 Robson St, Vancouver
Free and open to the public. We are now Sold Out for this event! To be added to the wait list, please send your name and contact details to Lindsay at or 604-822-1672.
Light dinner offered.

Moderated by Saleem Spindari, Manager of Refugee Settlement Support Projects, MOSAIC.
Saleem manages a variety of initiatives and projects to support the settlement of refugees. This is a one year secondment from his Community Outreach and Advocacy Program at MOSAIC.


Professor Dan Hiebert

Professor Hiebert will explore the degree of economic integration of refugees over the long haul. He’ll discuss what their economic situation looks like 5, 10, and 20 years after arriving in Canada and will point out that the outcomes differ by city — Vancouver does not appear to offer the same level of opportunities as several other cities, for example.
Bio: Dan Hiebert is a Professor in Geography at UBC. He has two main research interests. The first is international migration. At the broadest scale, this includes the issue of policy and regulatory systems and how they shape migration, and also how people become mobile, with or without the consent of states. He tries to understand Canadian immigration policy within this wider context, and consider it in relation to the policies of other countries, especially in Europe and Australasia. At the local scale, he studies the consequences of immigration in Canadian cities, highlighting Vancouver’s situation (with a foreign-born population approaching one million). More specifically, he looks at the integration of newcomers in the labour and housing markets of cities, and how this changes their residential structure and social relations.


Patrick MacKenzie

Patrick MacKenzie, CEO of the Immigrant Employment Council of BC will discuss how increasing international competition for talent requires that Canada make the most effective use of the skills immigrants bring to this country. As employers struggle with the challenge of finding qualified employees to meet immediate and strategic needs, many are turning to innovative solutions and are tapping into new sources of global talent. Patrick will explore novel approaches allowing newcomers, including those who arrived here as refugees, to get a head start in their careers in Canada and will present an effective alternative to traditional job boards, which offers employers access to job-ready talent.
Bio: Patrick MacKenzie joined IEC-BC as the organization’s new CEO in April 2017. He has made a career of public service from coast to coast, working in policy and program areas aimed at supporting many of Canada’s most vulnerable communities through economic and social development as well as international relations. Previously, Patrick spent 11 years working for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada at its national headquarters in Ottawa and its regional offices in Vancouver. Throughout his career, Patrick has worked with partners on matters affecting aboriginal and immigrant populations, including immigrant economic integration, provincial nominee programs, credential recognition and labour mobility.

Cormac O’Reilly

Cormac O’Reilly will share insights from his work managing the Refugee Training and Employment Program with MOSAIC.
Cormac O’Reilly is a Program Manager with the BC Alliance for Manufacturing and currently runs the Refugee Training and Employment Program–a jointly run program in partnership with MOSAIC–that provides newly arrived Canadians with skills necessary to work in Manufacturing. He has worked in the Career and Employment Counselling field for the past 8 years in various capacities including Case Manager, Facilitator, Job Developer, Labour Market Officer and Program Manager and has previously worked with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.  He is a Certified Career Development Practitioner through the BCCDA and received his CDP Certification from SFU.

Zhila Pirmoradi

Zhila Pirmoradi, an analyst with the city of Vancouver, will profile the mentoring program at the City of Vancouver that supports refugees to find jobs.
Bio:  Zhila is an Industrial Engineer who moved to Canada in 2009 as international student with her husband. As a student passionate to develop her professional skills and contribute to the community in parallel, she started volunteering with Society for Canadian Women in Science & Technology (SCWIST) in 2013. Around her graduation time and newly landed as a Permanent Resident, in 2014 she started looking for opportunities to get relevant work experience in Canada, and she applied to Skills Connect program where she met a great mentor and case manager, and learned about other opportunities such as ISS of BC’s 4-month internship opportunity for newcomers. She also joined a great mentorship program offered by Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC), through which she met several wonderful professionals from the City of Vancouver. As a result of contribution from organizations missioned to support, and individuals who willingly offered their support to newcomers, Zhila was offered a Business Analyst position by the City of Vancouver in 2015, and since then she has been contributing to over ten projects which help increasing efficiency and effectiveness of the processes in various business units.

Viken Majarian
Viken Majarian will share his story as a Syrian refugee settling in Vancouver. His story will help illustrate the barriers refugees face as professionals entering the Canadian job market.
Bio: Viken is a Syrian dentist whose family was forced from their home in Aleppo before the Syrian civil war. He is a Canadian Red Cross volunteer in the Smart Start program. He was born in Aleppo, Syria and attended private school in Aleppo till grade twelve then moved in 1987 to Armenia for his medical university study. He graduated as a Dentist D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgeon) in 1995. He served in the army as a dentist for two and half years, then worked in a public dental clinic for two years too. Since 1998, he had his own clinic. At 2003, he received his Surgeon Implant Diploma. He moved with his family to Canada in December 2015 due to the war in Syria. In 2016, he received his Canadian first aid certificate. In March 2016, he got his first job in Canada as a care attendant in a hospital transfers company and a year later, he made his first dental workshop presentation at MOSAIC for newcomers and refugee families. He received an invitation from the Red Cross to attend a course with them as an Arabic speaker presenter. He speaks five languages: Armenian, Arabic, English, Russian, and Turkish. Since his arrival to Canada, he has been volunteering in the Armenian community and a church to help newcomer families to settle and begin new life in Canada.

Farid Rohani

Farid Rohani, immediate past Chair with the Laurier Institution, will highlight the important contributions that people who arrived as immigrants and refugees make to our society.
Bio: Farid Rohani is the immediate past Chair of the Laurier Institution, a Canadian non-partisan organization dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge about the economic and social implications of diversity. During a 12-year tenure on the Laurier board, Rohani established the Ethics and Human Rights Lecture Series (University of British Columbia) and expanded the M.K. Wong Lecture Series on multicultural issues (CBC Radio) now in its 11th year. He also established Canada’s first Indigenous speaker series at Vancouver Island University.  As former Chair of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (Vancouver), he organized the first Citizenship Ceremony on a First Nations Reserve. Rohani has served on the Royal Canadian Mountain Police (E-Division) Diversity Advisory Committee, the Scouts Canada Diversity Committee and on the Steering Committee of the Vancouver Dialogues Project. He has been honored with the British Columbia Multicultural Award (2011), the British Columbia Regiment Commanding Officer’s Commendation (2014), and has been recognized as a Georgia Straight Cultural Navigator (2013). An Iranian-born Canadian, Rohani publishes widely on immigration, multiculturalism, diversity and ethics, and is a guest commentator on these issues on CBC radio and television. He also manages his family’s Vancouver-based development and real estate holding company.


This is the final event of the After the Flight: Community-University Refugee & Migration Symposium hosted by AMSSA, MOSAIC, ISSofBC, Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture (VAST), the Vancouver Immigration Partnership, UBC Community Engagement, UBC Liu Institute for Global Issues and the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, UBC International Student Development, the UBC Graduate Student Migration Network, and the UBC Equity and Inclusion Office.

Find more details on symposium events between October 11 – October 19, 2017 here.

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