The Centre for Newcomers is operated by the Centre for Newcomers Society of Calgary.
The Society was incorporated as a not-for-profit society and registered charity in 1988. At that time, civil wars were displacing populations in several countries of Central America, and the Society was formed to respond to the needs of refugee claimants coming to Calgary. It was founded by the Mennonite congregations of Calgary and Mennonite Central Committee Alberta and modelled after the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers , which had been formed in 1980 to respond to the needs of refugees from Southeast Asia.
In 2003 the Centre for Newcomers broadened its membership beyond the founding community, while still retaining strong links to its Mennonite origins. "Mennonite" refers to a distinct theological tradition within Christianity - as well as to an ethnic and cultural tradition. To learn more about Mennonites and their history, click here.
The Mennonite distinctive in Christian theology is an emphasis on non-violence. This principle, referred to as the "Mennonite peace position," has ironically often led those who profess it into conflict with their own governments. As a result, the cultural experience of some Mennonite groups is one of being uprooted, forced to move from place to place.
Because of their commitment to peace and justice, as well as personal or family histories of persecution, migration and displacement, Mennonites in Canada have been especially committed to advocacy and service on behalf of immigrants and refugees. MCC Canada is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with Citizenship and Immigration Canada; through this provision, Mennonite congregations comprising less than 1% of the Christians in Canada assist in the sponsorship of about 500 refugees annually - more than 7% of the private sponsorship total.
In addition to the Centre for Newcomers and its Edmonton sister agency, Canadian Mennonites have founded these immigrant or refugee service centres: