By Ratika Sethi
Multiculturalism Day is an important time to celebrate the many cultures in British Columbia, and to honour a difference in experience. The Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) believes that newcomers make our communities stronger economically, socially, and culturally. For 50 years, ICA has been supporting newcomers and immigrants with settling and adjusting to life in the capital region of B.C. BC Parks works in partnership with ICA on initiatives that work towards making parks inclusive and accessible to everyone.
Robin McGeough is a youth settlement worker who has been with ICA for several years. He started off by working for Mountain Equipment Co-op and proposed a program that would support refugees in experiencing the beautiful natural spaces of British Columbia. Through this collaboration with ICA, Robin joined the organization as a staff member and has since been coordinating outdoor activities with refugee and newcomer youth.
Events hosted by ICA include guided hikes at Goldstream Provincial Park and backpacking trips to Sombrio Provincial Park. Participants in ICA’s English training group routinely go on field trips as part of their programming. Robin fondly recalls the yearly spring break snowshoeing trip to Mount Washington that he would attend with youth before the pandemic. ICA also partners with Power to Be on a yearly camping trip that is open to folks of all abilities.
Refugees and immigrants can have different associations with outdoor activities and may enjoy them in different ways. For those who have had to be in refugee camps, camping in parks may not be the most enticing experience, but Robin has seen families enjoy parks in their own ways. He recalls trail running at Goldstream and bumping into a newcomer family he knows from ICA. They were having a lively picnic that included grilling kebab and engaging in cultural activities, like playing a game of Tawla.
Through his work, Robin has seen the value of helping newcomers make their own connections with the outdoors.
To learn more about ICA, visit https://www.icavictoria.org/