A vibrant history
MOSAIC is one of Canada's largest settlement and employment services organizations made up of deeply committed people who support newcomers and those with diverse backgrounds.
Guided by our values, collective expertise, lived experiences, and through strong partnerships, MOSAIC has gained and established trust using a person-centred approach to walk alongside people as they start their new life in Canada.
Diversity makes Canada strong, so we work to enrich the communities we serve and call on all to join us in the creation of a just and inclusive society as we mark our 45th anniversary.
When MOSAIC was incorporated in 1976, no one knew that 45 years later we would still be playing a leading and pivotal role in proudly serving newcomers. We could only hope that our organization would be able to impact the lives of so many in such positive ways.
So, we’re interested in hearing from you – what is your MOSAIC Moment? Share your story in our submission form below.
Below, you'll find some of the important highlights of MOSAIC's work throughout the years.
MOSAIC through the years
The Multi-lingual Orientation Service Association for Immigrant Communities (M.O.S.A.I.C.) is formed from the union of two local agencies Language Aid and Multilingual Social Service, both of whom were serving the immigrant community in Vancouver.
MOSAIC clients receive access to free legal advice and help with the establishment of the Weekly Legal Clinic in October 1977, with support from the Legal Aid Society. Today, and since 1994, the Law Foundation of British Columbia supports the Legal Advocacy Program for low-income clients in the areas related to immigration and poverty law. MOSAIC has additionally provided clients with language support or interpreters as needed for both programs.
MOSAIC was the first immigrant-serving organization in Western Canada to formally launch an officially- funded employment program. The MOSAIC Immigrant Youth Job Corps Program (developed in conjunction with, and funded by Canada Employment) helped to establish the organization’s Employment Programs division, which then incorporated the Employment Orientation and Job Placement program, as well as the Bilingual Employment Orientation for Immigrant Women later that same year. Today, MOSAIC is the largest immigrant-serving organization provider of employment services in British Columbia. MOSAIC once again pioneered services in the immigrant-serving sector by developing a program to serve recently-arrived families from Latin America, many..Read More
MOSAIC establishes the Settlement Language Training Program for immigrant women, with child-minding services. The objective was to teach basic language skills and provide some cultural education about Canada. Two years later, Canada Employment and Immigration approached MOSAIC to administer full-time classes for 160 immigrants at Vancouver Community College and the Canada Language Centre, and English for Work Program was launched in 1989. Today, MOSAIC provides language training to over 1000 newcomers at any given time in Vancouver, Surrey, and Burnaby.
After years of serving clients from a small, single room space on Commercial Drive, MOSAIC moves to 1720 Grant Street, which has remained as the main headquarters of the organization since then. After 30 years, MOSAIC will be re-locating to spacious new premises at Boundary and Vanness in the Collingwood community in 2017.
MOSAIC launches its first violence prevention program funded by the Canadian government. The “Assaultive Husbands Program” addressed domestic violence and provided a treatment program for men who used violence in their intimate relationships. This was followed over the next decade by counselling, support and outreach programs for women, multicultural victim services, youth programs and research-based projects addressing issues impacting immigrant women, men and their families.
Interpretation and Translation Services transitions from a volunteer service to a social enterprise. The rationale for this move is to provide a higher-level of professional services and to compensate interpreters and translators for their work. Advocacy efforts related to engaging interpreters and translators to allow for equal access to services and developing better and/or new training opportunities for interpreters and translators also become a focus. Today, Interpretation and Translation Services is a leading language service provider with credentialed, certified, and/or accredited language specialists in over 70 languages.
MOSAIC led a 4-day “Camp In” at Victoria Park, to protest new legislation and stand in solidarity with refugees who now faced a mandatory three month residency requirement before being eligible for financial assistance. With the highly publicized stand, and ongoing lobbying efforts, the province exempted refugees from this legislation just four months later. Prior to this, advocacy work on behalf of the refugee community included: the 1984-1988 research project The Inland Refugee Experience in BC; assisting in the formation of the Inland Refugee Society of BC; and the formation of the coalitions Working Group on Poverty, and Refugee Access..Read More
Festival MOSAIC makes its first appearance! The now-annual signature gala event launched as a four-day festival in partnership with the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. Conceptualized to celebrate the artistic contribution of immigrants and refugees to Canadian society, the event showcased Vancouver’s diverse cultures through theatre, dance and the visual arts with performances each night.
MOSAIC piloted the “Step Ahead” program, listed among Canadian Citizenship and Immigration’s “best settlement work practices” and earning the 8th Soma Ganesen Spirit of Hope Award. The program for vulnerable immigrants and refugees encompasses holistic, client-centred case management services and is now established nationwide as the Moving Ahead Program.
MOSAIC opens its first office in Burnaby. In response to demands from clients and community partners, MOSAIC opens an office in Southeast Burnaby, considered to be the heart of the immigrant community in that municipality. Today, MOSAIC staff and services can be accessed via 10 sites in Burnaby, as well as in the communities of North Vancouver, Richmond, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Surrey and Langley.
MOSAIC became accredited by CARF after undertaking an extensive 2-year process to achieve a high level of service standards. MOSAIC’s accreditation is an indication of the organization’s dedication and commitment to improving the quality of the lives of clients. The surveyors noted that “it is evident that the rights of clients are respected and protected by staff members. A high level of dignity and respect is given to each and every client,” and “MOSAIC has an effective blend of new and long-term staff members, representing outstanding diversity ethnically and culturally, who personalize services and model the harmonious diversity in Canada.”
MOSAIC is the lead operator in the launch of the Vancouver Northeast Work BC Centre, earning the distinction of being the only immigrant-serving organization to hold a contract to provide Employment Programs of BC services. Combined with MOSAIC employment programs and services, the organization is the largest immigrant-serving provider of employment services in British Columbia.
The City of Vancouver announced that it would provide MOSAIC with a new 23,000 sq. ft. facility to house its main headquarters. The decision to accommodate MOSAIC with community amenity space at Wall Centre – Central Park was preceded by years of collaboration and planning between the city and the organization. MOSAIC will re-locate to its new premises in the Collingwood community in 2017.
MOSAIC has played a leading role for Syrian refugee re-settlement in Metro Vancouver. Even before the federal government announced that Canada would welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees, MOSAIC had announced its preparedness to provide support for 1,000 displaced persons and called on local, provincial and federal governments to step up support. In a six month period since September 2015, MOSAIC worked with almost 1800 refugees, with close to 500 identified as being Syrian.
The BC Government awarded MOSAIC with the contract to lead the Refugee Response Team for Metro Vancouver. Canada’s acceptance of 25,000 Syrian refugees over just a few months meant that a large influx of refugees required orientation and integration support that has been unprecedented in this country. MOSAIC’s expertise working with refugees, and our history of successful collaboration with community institutions and resource providers positioned the organization well to coordinate the response efforts involving the health, education, employment and language training sectors, and community groups which will be assisting with refugee resettlement in Metro Vancouver.
In May of 2017, MOSAIC moved to our current headquarters at 5575 Boundary Road in Vancouver from the old location at 1720 Grant Street. The 23,000 square foot space is owned by the City of Vancouver and designated as a community amenity, with MOSAIC as the operator. It includes over 100 staff offices and workstations, a large community room, a welcome centre, eight meeting rooms, a computer lab and a child-friendly family counselling space.
In July of 2018, Olga Stachova began her role as MOSAIC’s Chief Executive Officer, joining MOSAIC from her previous role as Chief Operating Officer of Mitacs. Stachova took over this position from former Executive Director Eyob Naizghi, who served MOSAIC for 25 years, including 17 years as Executive Director.
MOSAIC transitioned from managing one WorkBC Centre in Vancouver North East, to managing five centres as new contracts awarded by the provincial government took effect on April 1st. In addition to the existing centre in Vancouver, MOSAIC now operates WorkBC Centres in North Delta, Ladner, South Surrey-White Rock and Surrey Cloverdale. As well as increasing the total number of clients, and the geographical areas previously served by the organization, the WorkBC clientele also represents a different demographic profile than those who have been historically served by MOSAIC.
As the COVID-19 pandemic affected people, organizations, and governments around the world, MOSAIC quickly shifted and adapted to ensure that service delivery and programming for newcomer clients did not stop. Staff for all different program areas moved services online, meeting with clients over the phone, through Zoom, or through safely distanced meetings outdoors. This unprecedented challenge demonstrated the incredible resiliency of MOSAIC staff, clients, volunteers, and partners.