Startland: Supporting Refugees Through Tech (and Unicorns)

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We don’t know why Startland’s logo is a unicorn next to a rainbow, but we love it.

If you’ve seen the news or just been on Facebook in the past few weeks, you’ve probably been bombarded with frightening news from an increasingly divided world. While that’s very much on our minds, It’s always been VIA’s mandate to highlight the positive stories coming from our communities. That said, it’s difficult to be positive during these times, which is why we’re so thankful for organizations like Vancouver-based initiative, Startland.

Startland is a self-described “grassroots initiative” that aims to connect immigrants and refugees – in other words, new Vancouverites – with Vancouver’s start-up scene. Startland also connects their participants with technical training, equipment and access to local startups. Since 2016, Startland has had five refugees graduate from full time web developer bootcamp training programs through their partners at RED Academy, Lighthouse Labs, and CodeCore. 10 more people will be starting new full time bootcamp programs in Spring 2017.

One of the programs graduates, Yousef Hadlah (originally from Syria), arrived in Canada in February 2016 from Jordan. Yousef got involved with Startland via his private sponsor and soon enough, Yousef found himself learning English, web development and technical computer languages like JavaScript all at the same time. Since then, Yousef has gone on to graduate from Startland and be hired as Technical Officer at Elections BC.

When we asked Yousef about the largest misconceptions regarding refugees arriving in North America, he told us that the believes, “the individual represents the individual” and that he is excited to learn, progress and contribute to Canada. When it comes to living in Vancouver, Yousef told us that “BC happens to have some of the nicest people I’ve met, and the natural scenery is a wonder to behold.”

We couldn’t agree more.

To learn more or get involved with Startland, visit their Facebook page HERE.

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