In the 1980s North America was welcoming a whole new culture of people—the Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian refugees of a long protracted war in their homelands. The Canadian and Edmonton community was doing their part to welcome these new arrivals, but some realized there was little in place to help them settle. Mennonites—with a persecuted past, as well as international relief experience through MCC—understood the problem as well as the potential for response. Several Mennonite church members met, adding the wisdom of Ann Falk, who understood the Vietnamese people, the Vietnamese culture as well as the language through her time as an MCC volunteer in Vietnam. That was the beginning of the Edmonton Mennonite churches’ response. The Centre started with one and a half staff in 1980 under the direction of a board consisting of appointees from First Mennonite Church, Holyrood Mennonite Church and Lendrum Mennonite Brethren Church.
And so the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (EMCN) was born—to walk with newcomers in their integration process; to fill out forms they couldn’t understand to advocate for newcomers when the system did not serve them adequately; to build relationships through language classes taught by volunteers; to pile newcomers into cars in the search of employment; to reflect the new cultural landscape by hiring first, Vietnamese, and later other nationalities who were now established and who could mentor newcomers; and to support the community as they established their own organizations.
As Edmonton became an increasingly sought destination for LGBTQ+ refugees throughout the 2010s, the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers responded to the quickly rising need for specialized, expert support and competent care. The Pride Centre of Edmonton is proud to offer refugee hearing and claims preparation assistance, resources navigation, and settlement support for LGBTQ+ refugee claimants.
For more information about the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, please visit emcn.ab.ca.
The following programs are sponsored by EMCN: