As a veteran of Canada’s refugee and immigrant settlement sector for over 30 years, Chris Friesen is a frequent speaker, media spokesperson and research collaborator on immigration related policy and program areas.
Besides his role as Director, Settlement Services for ISSofBC, one of Canada’s largest multicultural immigrant serving agencies, Mr. Friesen is presently the Chair of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance (CISSA-ACSEI) and co-chair of Canada’s National Settlement and Integration Council.
Under his tenure with ISSofBC, Chris has been at the forefront as a key leader of the shifting immigration and refugee resettlement changes in BC and Canada. Chris led the multiple aspects of the Syrian resettlement operation in BC as well as playing a key national role in the overall operation. Mr. Friesen was also an instrumental member of the concept and design of the ISSofBC Welcome Centre building in East Vancouver which opened in June 2016. This world class 70,000 sf social purpose-built facility has redefined a new international model for newcomer integration.
Prior to ISSofBC, Mr. Friesen coordinated a British Educational Trust for Refugees based in Nairobi, Kenya. As a UBC student (and graduate BA History and Political Science), Chris successful led in 1985 a referendum on campus to increase the student fees in order to establish a permanent WUSC student refugee scholarship program. This referendum concept has now spread to over 60 post secondary institutions across Canada and has recently been explored globally as part of alternative resettlement pathways (through education) for refugees.