The Cowichan Intercultural Society (CIS) is a Canadian registered charitable organization that has been serving the Cowichan Valley Region since 1981.

We have over 18 active community service programs, 12 board members, 26 staff members, and over 150 volunteers. We are proud to be the leading community resource for immigrant settlement services, as well as for education and awareness in developing welcoming and inclusive communities.

Our Mission:

To support newcomers to Canada toward their successful integration in the Cowichan Valley region, and to support our community in embracing diversity and enhancing intercultural awareness

Our Vision:

An inclusive and welcoming community where everyone feels a sense of belonging and can participate to their full potential

Our Objectives:

Our Values:

Our Story:

In 1981, a large influx of Vietnamese refugees to the Cowichan Valley residents led residents to organize a new non-profit organization:

The Cowichan Valley Intercultural and Immigrant Aid Society (CVIIAS).


Their mandate was to facilitate the settlement and integration needs of immigrants and refugees and to promote the diverse cultural heritages of valley residents. They were committed volunteers that helped newcomers find employment, fill out required documents to reunite with families, and arrange interpreters. Others taught cross-cultural awareness across the Cowichan Region, through schools and community events. The Cowichan Exhibition food tent was a popular community outreach opportunity that built friendship, laughter, and funds for the Society.

In 1982 the Intercultural Women’s Group was born. CVIIAS gained the charitable status it still maintains today.

Work with immigrants and long time residents of the community continued, and a welcome addition of federal funds led to hiring a part-time coordinator. 1983 saw rapid growth in membership and activities, including the Multicultural Day Camp. Core funding paid for the administrative costs of the Society and for two part-time coordinators.

The staff, Board, and volunteers have always been dedicated to delivering the programs which the community desires. The government’s shift to project-based funding has led to the occasional challenge with regard to location and staffing. But we are strong in creativity, flexibility, and determination.

We strive to be a home away from home and a place of belonging. Our wonderful clients drive our desire to serve; our excellent community partnerships assist that desire; and our funders support the projects’ delivery.

Our name has changed, but our welcome is the same. Now known as Cowichan Intercultural Society, we continue the vision of our founders to facilitate mutual respect, trust, support, and education in the culturally diverse Cowichan Region.

CIS Sanctuary Policy: Access Without Fear

Our community is comprised of people of all migration statuses who contribute to community. Limiting access to services based on migration status creates a fundamentally unjust system in which sections of our community are excluded, exploited, and denied access to their basic human rights. Fear of detention or deportation means people do not access necessary services, like healthcare, and do not report crimes they witness. It is our stance, therefore, that sanctuary organisations benefit the entire community. Honouring the land and actions of the First Nations that have lived on this land since time immemorial, we want to build inclusive, equitable and just communities that are in solidarity with Indigenous and global movements against dispossession. To that end, we will create safer access to services for all people based on need rather than status. All residents of the Cowichan Valley should have access to services and supports regardless of immigration status

Policy Directive:
All residents of the Cowichan Valley should have access to services and supports regardless of immigration status.

Cowichan Intercultural Society will serve newcomers to Canada in the Cowichan Valley regardless of immigration status.

No referrals will be made to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). If an individual is suspected of committing a criminal offense, a referral will be made to the local RCMP detachment.

Questions? Contact us.