Arrival Advisor

Patrick Estey, left, and Lauren Hyde launched the Arrival Advisor app for immigrants and refugees at Wednesday’s Ignite Okanagan conference at the Coast Capri Hotel.

Immigrants and refugees may be baffled upon arrival in Canada.

But one thing likely not to flummox them is how to use a smartphone.

That’s why PeaceGeeks has launched Arrival Advisor, a free mobile app to help immigrants and refugees settle in B.C.

“Smartphones are ubiquitous,” said Arrival Advisor communications lead Lauren Hyde during a stop in Kelowna.

“Since everyone has one, we knew it was the best way to reach and help newcomers.”

Arrival Advisor had a booth at Wednesday’s Ignite Okanagan conference at the Coast Capri Hotel to let attendees know about the app.

Ignite was a session for employers to get information about hiring immigrants and refugees amid the ongoing labour shortage.

“Canada is set to welcome one million new immigrants and refugees by the end of 2020,” said Hyde.

“Conceivably, Arrival Advisor could be of use to each and every one of them.”

After two years of development, the free app became available at the iTunes store on March 1 and at Google Play on Monday.

Basically, Arrival Advisor is a extensive directory to all the information and services an immigrant or refugee may need or want.

There are step-by-step instructions on how to apply for health care, find daycare or a school for children, how to get a driver’s licence, how to find work and where to learn English.

The app is available in seven languages: English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Punjabi and Tagalog.

“One of the key features is users don’t have to register,” said Hyde. “Users don’t have to provide any private information.”

Immigration Canada and any government agencies that help immigrants and refugees are being made aware of the app in hopes it will be recommended.

Arrival Advisor is also running digital and traditional media advertising campaigns in several languages to publicize the app.

And, in addition to attending targeted events like Ignite Okanagan, Arrival Advisor representatives will be at similar symposiums in Victoria and Nanaimo in the next week.

PeaceGeeks is a Vancouver-based non-profit group that won the $750,000 first prize at the 2017 Google.org Impact Canada Challenge.

It used that money, along with some provincial government funding, to develop and launch Arrival Advisor.

PeaceGeeks also developed Meshkat Community in Jordan to disseminate positive content to combat extremism.

The guest speaker at Ignite Okanagan was Cicely Belle Blain, a consultant who advocates diversity in society and employment.

She was recently named one of the 50 most influential people in Vancouver by Vancouver Magazine and is listed by the CBC as 150 black women making change in Canada.

The conference was hosted by Kelowna Community Resources, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and the Central Okanagan Local Immigration Partnership.

“We quite often hear from our members about the labour challenges they are facing,” said chamber past president Carmen Sparg.

“Creating more diverse workplaces is one way to address the growing labour concern.”