British Columbia

#Startland aims to help refugees get a toe hold in the tech sector

It might not be the first thing on their minds when arriving in Vancouver but if Syrian refugees start looking around for tech sector opportunites, #Startland will be there for them.

Grass roots movement bringing together training, equipment and workspace to help refugees find work

#Startland hopes to help refugees get training and jobs in Vancouver's startup scene. (#startland)

It might not be the first thing on their minds when arriving in Vancouver but once Syrian refugees start looking around for opportunities — perhaps in B.C.'s hot tech sector — an initiative called #Startland will be there for them.

#Startland bills itself as "an independent, grassroots initiative working to support refugees with the equipment, training and workspace they need to thrive in the Vancouver startup scene."

According to #Starland co-founder Kate Armstrong there are three main components to the initiative.

#Startland co-founder Kate Armstrong (#startland)

"One is about workspace and facilitating social and business connections for people arriving so they can meet people in the technology community," she told CBC News. "The second piece has to do with code training. And the third is equipment because none of this is really possible without computers."wor

Armstrong describes #Startland as a coordinated response from the local startup community. Some companies are donating money, others equipment or workspaces, while others will provide coding and web development training.

#Startland has also launched a crowdfunding effort to raise $20,000.

Armstrong says #Startland had partnered with the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. to help get the word out. She's unsure how many refugees will be interested in the #Startland initiative but believes there will be demand.

"[Refugees] want to find jobs obviously, but they also need careers, interesting and challenging careers," she said. " I think people a lot of people arriving here under these difficult circumstances ... they may have an interest in technology, or they may have skills in technology.Maybe all they need in order to facilitate that are the right introduction, the right connections, the right skills and the right community."

Around 500 Syrian refugees have settled in British Columbia so far, with the goal to settle 3,000 by the end of the year.


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