Amarjit Bhalla – Winner of the 2020 VCLA in Getting Started in our Community
Amarjit has worked with newcomers and refugees in Victoria for 35 years, and 20 of those at the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS). As the Volunteer Coordinator at VIRCS, Amarjit has the lead in the creation and growth of programs that will serve the needs of the immigrant and refugee community in Greater Victoria. She goes out of her way to bring people together and works hard to provide the hospitality and community necessary to maximum impact. Amarjit has been described as determined, thoughtful, creative, resourceful, resilient, collaborative and compassionate. In addition to creating and implementing new programs for newcomers, she also maintains the partnerships between communities, organizations and industries that are necessary to help them thrive. As a respected leader, she underscores the importance of valuing everyone’s abilities and to learning together. And to all who are fortunate to know Amarjit, the greeting is always the same – “I value you.”
Amarjit’s first exposure to developing value-based leadership came from her mother who always looked at the best in people. Amarjit remembers her mother as someone who always went out of her way to help people and helped her to understand that everyone has something valuable to offer to the world. It is no surprise that Amarjit describes a leader as someone who can instill a sense of value in others, making them feel that their contribution to their families, communities, and world at large is important regardless of their circumstances. She also imbibed a sense of empathy from her father who taught her to be aware of social issues and an acute awareness of those that are disadvantaged - something that inspired her to make the journey from a mathematician to a counselor.
As a young immigrant to Canada at the age of 19, Amarjit found it hard to build connections and develop a sense of community. There were no resources such as VIRCS at that time to help immigrants who were making Canada their homes. She remembers it as a very challenging time, something she always keep in mind when dealing with the many people that VIRCS helps. Through her years in VIRCS, she has always been amazed by the will of both immigrants and refugees who have sometimes made the hard choice to live in an unknown country but share a common hope for building a better life for their future generations. Amarjit welcomes volunteers from the community who want to help others during the COVID crisis and thereafter.
You can connect with VIRCS through their website http://www.vircs.bc.ca/