With no warning, RIAC suspends services after 3 decades of helping St. John’s newcomers

Signs in the door of the Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

The Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council in St. John’s has abruptly suspended all of its services, after more than 35 years of being the first stop for refugees and immigrants coming to Newfoundland and Labrador.

A sign hung on the glass door of the RIAC offices on Water Street states its services have been suspended until further notice. The note left only an email address and P.O. box as points of contact.

The charity had been holding regular public events and programming, such as a Halloween party last week, with its Facebook page still active and posting as of Monday.

It is unclear what motivated the closure, although the organization, which relies on donations, has a history of funding problems and has narrowly avoided closure in the past.

However the organization’s board chair, Jose Rivera, said he wouldn’t call it a shutdown. 

Rivera told CBC News on Friday morning that RIAC is in a process of “realignment,” and would provide further details once the blueprint for the future of the group is clear.  

In 2016, a last-minute donation helped keep its office doors open as the RIAC faced eviction. Shortly after, the organization temporarily moved from Water Street altogether in a bid to save money. 

A similar plea for funds to keep operating was issued in 2015.

The RIAC is suspending services until further notice. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

RIAC became a registered charity in January of 2003, 20 years after its inception. Since 1983, according to the organization’s website, it has helped hundreds of newcomers prepare legal cases, find work, find housing and lay roots in the province.

In May, Radio RIAC won an Atlantic Journalism Award for its first year of broadcasting. That had been a dream of Rivera’s, to air a radio program dedicated to the diverse voices of new Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Rivera himself came to Newfoundland as a refugee from Columbia in 2002. On top of co-founding the RIAC, he has been the head of the organization for 15 years, and celebrated that accomplishment in August of 2019.

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With no warning, RIAC suspends services after 3 decades of helping St. John’s newcomers

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/riac-suspends-services-st-johns-1.5352649?cmp=rss
Aggregated from: CBC | Newfoundland and Labrador News

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