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Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council announces dissolution

<p>José Rivera, executive director of the Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council, was packing up the organization’s longtime office Saturday. The organization is moving out due to financial constraints.</p>
José Rivera, former executive director of the Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council - SaltWire Network

After 30 years, RIAC is no more

After 30 years and countless Canadian newcomers helped, The Refugee And Immigrant Advisory Council is no more.

The Telegram was granted early access to a letter being sent to Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council (RIAC) members late Friday night.

“It is with heavy heart that I have to announce the dissolution of The Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council,” former executive director Jose Rivera said in the letter.
“It has been a very challenging few weeks since I announced the suspension of our services. I came to this decision after much soul searching and consultation with stakeholders.”

Rivera, who has been a part of the council for 15 years, says RIAC has served those in the margins, who may not have fit within the mandate of other organizations. He says because of its niche within the community, long-term funding arrangements have been impossible to secure.

“Our dedication to take on these edge cases seriously was what made our position in the community so important,” he wrote.

“At the same time, it made it impossible for us to secure formal funding and required that we depend on the generous contributions of individuals or project funding. There is no funding for anyone to help with edge cases anywhere.”

Rivera said he tackled the lack of formal funding with an entrepreneur’s mindset, searching for every solution to secure the long-term viability of the council.

“The approach was effective as the many letters of support and calls by former staff, clients new and old, partner organizations and the community at large show,” he said.

“Sadly, there wasn’t enough investment to keep the dream going in a stable manner for the long term.”

Rivera says he believes the end of RIAC will spark a new organization to take its place, as “there are many seriously talented people aware of this issue and invested in its resolution.”

Until a new organization is formed, Rivera says those needing assistance should reach out to the provincial government’s Office of Immigration and Multiculturalism, to get involved in St. John’s Board of Trade Initiatives, as well as the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology Innovation (NATI, the Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador, the YMCA, and the Multicultural Women’s Organization of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Failing that, Rivera says look around.

“If all else fails, reach out to the community. I really mean this,” he said.

“Don’t be afraid to seek help from fellow Newfoundlanders. They will fight tooth and nail to help you thrive here. As they have been doing for me for the last 17 great years.”

Rivera was unavailable for comment on Friday night.

david.maher@thetelegram.com


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