History of Saamis Immigration
Saamis Immigration Services Association's (SISA) existence resulted from a gap in settlement services for newcomers to Medicine Hat in 1988. To fill this gap, a board of 12 like-minded individuals came together to make a positive change in the integration of newcomers to the City. The Board initially secured federal funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada and provincial funding from the Alberta Economic Development and Trade Ministry to support the proposed settlement services and programs. The agency began as a dedicated staff of one who provided settlement services to newcomers and developed partnerships within the community to serve these clients more effectively.
Due to growth in services, in 1990, SISA found a new home on Dunmore Road, where the agency grew to a staff of five individuals who could provide improved and increased settlement services to newcomers. After the staff expansion, the agency moved again to the Flat Iron building across from Alexandra Middle School in 1993.
In 1995, due to the economic downturn and resulting funding cuts, SISA moved again to Prospect Drive SW, where they also began offering full-time English classes through the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. Due to the success of this new program, in 1995, SISA outgrew the space they were in and moved once again to 12 St NE, where it remained for the next 16 years.
With the introduction and growth of the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) program, the agency acquired a secondary location for services in 2009, downtown on 3rd St SE. In 2011, the search began to house all departments into one place to increase convenience and serviceability to clients. Following some construction at the 3rd St SE location, the entire agency was able to move into the downtown location in 2013. Since then, a second building a few doors down from the office building was procured to expand the classroom services for LINC and centralize the office as a workspace for all departments.
Considering its humble beginnings in 1988, the last 35+ years have seen SISA expand and flourish into a dedicated team that serves newcomers in all aspects of the settlement, exhibiting every day that SISA is a peaceful and welcoming place for newcomers to the land.