(403) 346-8818 hello@rdlip.ca

The People Behind RD LIP

At the heart of our work are the many individuals and organizations that have committed to working collectively towards building the strongest, most vibrant community. This is a living, breathing list, that we are eager to see expand and grow. It is our intention to continue to connect and invite others to join the effort to make Red Deer the most vibrant community in Canada.
For more information regarding the Red Deer Local Immigration Partnership, contact Ezgi Sarioglu, Project Coordinator
Phone: 403-346-8818 – Ext. 268

Fax: 403-347-5220

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Ezgi Sarioglu

I moved to Canada from Turkey to do my Master’s in Social Justice and Equity Studies in 2013.


Having personally experienced challenges as a newcomer to Canada, I value my position as the Coordinator of the Local Immigration Partnership as an opportunity to work collectively with our community members and organizations to build a welcoming and inclusive Red Deer, where all residents feel supported and valued.

I believe that we can create a strong, diverse, and vibrant community by working together to improve the economic, social, cultural, and political integration of newcomers to Central Alberta.

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Jodi Gulka

My name is Jodi Gulka and I work for Alberta Health Services (AHS).


I am involved with the Local Immigration Partnership on behalf of AHS because the health outcomes for newcomers are a natural fit for our organization. The LIP identified health as one of the key action areas in its strategic plan and we are interested to support work in this area. Red Deer’s LIP offers a great benefit in the partnership it builds between local agencies to better address the needs of newcomers in a collaborative way. Working together we are able to support the different focus areas and hope to create improved outcomes for new Red Deer residents. It has also benefited AHS as I am able to take the information and needs discussed at the Central Planning Council back to our teams for consideration with regards to how we can improve access to services such as interpretation and translation services. Personally, I believe that people are healthiest when they feel comfortable, cared for, and welcome in their community and when they feel invited to celebrate and continue their cultural heritage while finding ways to embrace their new life in Canada. Embracing stories, art, music, food, and more cultural offerings shared by fellow Red Deerians helps me build an appreciation for the rich and diverse cultures around the world. Multiculturalism is at the heart of what it means to me to be a Canadian. As a daughter of an immigrant I am always mindful of the personal and societal benefits that come with immigration. Welcoming newcomers is vital to healthy economic growth, meeting the needs for our workforce, and building an inclusive community.

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Robert Opoku

Robert has lived and taught on four continents. Throughout his travels, he has had the chance to interact, help, mentor, and support many immigrants and non-immigrants alike.


In his present position as an instructor at the Donald School of Business, Red Deer College, he serves as a mentor and counsellor to many international students who have chosen to study here. Within the Red Deer community, he is more or less the go-to- person for African and other immigrants who would like to pursue college education.

Robert’s community service is rooted in his firm belief that we should be expanding—not restricting—opportunities for all Red Deerians. Being part of RD LIP gives him the opportunity to be apart of something bigger than himself. Through this council, he hopes to extend this support and expertise to the entire immigrant community because he is interested in leaving Red Deer a better place than when he arrived.

Volunteerism also sets a good example for his own kids in particular and the students he instructs in general. When he makes community service work a normal part of his life he doesn’t simply teach his kids and students strong core values, he demonstrates these values in action.

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Osborne Odongo

Like the majority if not all immigrants, when I moved to Canada in 2006 I was excited by the prospects of a better life and brighter future.


Canada presented me with a chance to turn over a new leaf and an opportunity to start writing a new chapter of my life. This chance; this opportunity was not just for me, but also for my family in my native home Kenya. By all accounts, I consider myself very fortunate, and always remember to count my blessings. I however recognize that my story and my experiences are not similar to that of the majority of immigrants like myself. I am volunteering with Red Deer Local Immigration Partnership (RD LIP) to have a platform where hopefully lessons I have learnt from my experiences and the expertise that I have acquired over the years potentially might contribute towards making the experience of current and future immigrants pleasant and better. Since moving to Canada, I have lived and worked in four provinces and each place I have lived and worked has its challenges for newcomers. Luckily with the help of individuals and organizations like RD LIP, I was able to navigate through most of the challenges. Like those who came before me and made it easier for me to be where I am today, I would like to contribute towards making the environment better than I found it for those planning on coming and making Canada, Central Alberta; Red Deer in particular home. I recognize the invaluable contributions that immigrants can make to our community and the hidden (untapped) potential of diversity. My name is Osborne Okara, I work for the Ministry of Community and Social Services and I am happy and proud to be a member of the Red Deer Immigrant Advisory Council.

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Valentine Skeels

My name is Valentine Skeels, originally from Tahiti, French Polynesia.


My husband and I moved back to Canada in 2002 and decided to settle in Red Deer.
Moving to a different country is not easy, especially when you leave your family and friends behind to start over.
What really made a difference for myself was the tremendous support I found in Red Deer with the different organizations I have volunteered with over the years. My children were born here and this is where our friends and family are. I am proud to call Red Deer Home.
I work in the Travel Industry and I love to travel and learn about other cultures.
I also love hearing about people’s experience coming to Canada and sharing my experience as an immigrant woman.

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Partner Organizations

Central Alberta Refugee Effort

For over 30 years we have been here to help new immigrants and refugees adjust to their new life in Central Alberta and become valued members of our welcoming community.


C.A.R.E. was formed in 1979 by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to assist with the settlement of Indochinese refugees fleeing the aftermath of the Vietnam War. A year later, C.A.R.E. became a registered non-profit society. In 1982 it received status as a charitable organization. Since our founding, our mission has been to assist in the settlement and integration of immigrants andrefugees in the community.


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Catholic Social Services

Catholic Social Services is a multi-function social service agency that serves people of all faiths and cultures throughout central Alberta.


Founded in 1961, the agency has grown to deliver more than 100 programs and helps more than 60,000 people each year through the work of our more than 1,800 staff and 800 volunteers.

For more than fifty five years, Catholic Social Services has welcomed immigrants and refugees to Alberta.

It takes a lot of courage and hope for the future to come to a new country and build a life, and we are here to support newcomers along that journey.

Our services are free and offered in English, French and more than 50 other languages.

For access to services, immigration documents are required, as driver’s licences will not be accepted.

Services to immigrants and refugees are offered in Edmonton, Red Deer, and Lloydminster.

In our Red Deer Immigration and Settlement Services office we offer 4 key programs:

  • Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) – initial settlement services for government assisted refugees
  • Integrated Services Program (ISP) – ongoing settlement services for immigrants and refugees
  • Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFW) – (formerly called Temporary Foreign Worker Program) – support services for temporary foreign workers and other foreign nationals.
  • Employment Readiness Program – employment support services for immigrants and refugees.


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At CAIWA, we have helped many newcomers to be resilient and to achieve their hopes and dreams. We do that through providing information, education and employment training.


Our programs can help you find the information you need and offer you training in skills essential to employment in Canada. CAIWA offers crucial programs and services to the most vulnerable and isolated segment of our community. Our services and outreach make a difference to the lives of thousands of newcomers in our community of Central Alberta.


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RDC – Red Deer College

For over 50 years RDC has been proudly serving our learners and our communities.


RDC offers more than 100 different programs (including full degrees, certificates, diplomas and skilled trades programs) to 8,000 full- and part-time credit students and more than 36,000 youth and adult learners in the School of Continuing Education each year. Named by Alberta Venture magazine as one of Alberta’s most innovative organizations for the Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing, RDC is a key location for applied and industry-led research


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Red Deer Public Schools

Red Deer Public Schools provides education for K – 12 students in Red Deer and serves 10,000 students within the City of Red Deer.


RDPS is responsible for providing the opportunity for our students to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for become self-reliant, responsible, caring and contributing members of society.


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Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce

The Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce is an association of business people and merchants who promote business growth and prosperity in the Red Deer region.


We are the largest most influential business association in Central Alberta. We are committed to promoting business growth and prosperity in the region by providing networking opportunities, educational and relevant speakers, benefit programs like group insurance and discounted merchant card rates to save you money, and being your advocate on issues that matter.


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