Over a month, our staff, friends, and followers are giving up things of varying importance to increase awareness about the difficulties experienced by refugees and other individuals who are forced to go without. Their endeavours are directed towards generating funds for PeaceGeeks initiatives that aid communities who have had to relinquish everything due to conflict and displacement. We saw people give up sleeping in their bed, using the internet, wearing shoes, drinking a cold beer, and even having a morning coffee. All in the name of supporting peace, resettlement, integration, and inclusion.
In 2021, we re-envisioned Give It Up 4 Peace to focus on the experiences of refugees and newcomers once they arrive in Canada. We sought to respond to a 2019 report by Vancity that indicated, while 90% of newcomers say they are glad they immigrated to Canada, and 86% feel generally welcomed by Canadians, 62% admit experiencing significant barriers to employment, including bias and racism in hiring. We decided to utilize SNAPP, a mentorship platform we piloted, to help break down barriers newcomers may face when seeking to enter the job market here. Sometimes, all it takes is a human connection to help open doorways.
We invited professionals at Microsoft, Unbounce, Hootsuite, Traction on Demand, East Side Games, Accenture, SolvedAF, and other Canadian companies to volunteer their time to connect directly with a newcomer. Each local professional and newcomer pair shared insights, forged new relationships, and connected on topics like culture, employment, and language skills. For each hour of time an employee donated, the company would match with a donation of $60.
In total, the campaign raised $44,163, and engaged 144 mentors from 8 companies, who donated their time to connect with 43 newcomers. While volunteer mentors initially only needed to commit one hour of their time, many continued to meet with their newcomer matches on an ongoing basis, and a number of the newcomers ended up with surprise offers of employment from the experience.