We want to acknowledge that we are on unceded traditional Mi’kmaq territory and we are grateful for the Peace and Friendship treaties. At ISANS, as we work to settle newcomers to Nova Scotia, we honour and respect the Indigenous people of this land.

Welcome to ISANS

ISANS recognizes the key role of immigrants in Canadian society. We work with newcomers to help them build a future in Canada. We provide a wide range of services to immigrants, from refugee resettlement to professional programs, from family counselling to English in the Workplace.

Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia was created by the merger of Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association (MISA) and Halifax Immigrant Learning Centre (HILC) - together we have a combined experience of over fifty years serving immigrants in Nova Scotia. We are the largest immigrant-serving agency in Atlantic Canada with over 270 staff members from more than 64 countries. We offer services in an inclusive manner, respectful of, and sensitive to, diversity. We make partnership, professionalism and accountability a priority in every aspect of our work.


A community where all can belong and grow.


Helping immigrants build a future in Nova Scotia.

Strategic Plan

ISANS Strategic Plan was launched at our 2017 AGM in June. View or download our 2017 Strategic Plan here.

We are also happy to share a visual representation of our strategic directions and priorities below.

Board of Directors

Rosalind Penfound – Chair

Vice President, Organizational Development, NSCC

Alan Blyth – Vice Chair

Project Manager, Atlantic Central

Lilani Kumaranayake – Secretary/Treasurer

Executive Director, Finance and Treasury Board

Catherine Woodman – Board Member

Associate, Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette

Leo Artalejo – Board Member

Communications Strategist, Facilitator & Coach

Saeed El-Darahali – Board Member

President and CEO, SimplyCast

Cecil Snow - Board Member

CFO, Health Association Nova Scotia

Daniel Holland - Board Member

Management Consultant

Sonja Erman - Board Member

Vice President, Human Resources-Butterfield

Nikhil Punjabi - Board Member

Product Manager, Resulta

Rick Power - Board Member

National Innovation Executive- Higher Education and Research, IBM=

Carmelle d’Entremont - Board Member

Former Vice President,People and Organizational Development, Nova Scotia Health Authority

Bernadette Guirguis - Board Member

Coordinator, Family Support Program

Refugee Resettlement

Jennifer Watts – Board Member

Chief Executive Officer, ISANS


In December 2009, Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association (established 1980) and Halifax Immigrant Learning Centre (established 1988) merged to form ISANS. Over the years prior to this, the organizations helped immigrants with settlement, and with English language skills and employment. They assisted many different groups of people: Vietnamese refugees in the 1980s, Middle Eastern business people, former Yugoslavian professionals and Kosovars in the 1990s, Iranian and Filipino provincial nominees, and Afghan refugees in the last decade. Together as ISANS, their combined programs provide a wide range of support for clients.

ISANS receives ongoing funding from many different government departments, both federal and provincial. They were the first organization in Atlantic Canada to deliver many of the programs provided by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

ISANS is an acknowledged leader in the settlement sector in Nova Scotia and a member in the Atlantic Region Association of Immigrant Settlement Agencies. Its expertise stems from working with many partner organizations to deliver a wide variety of innovative services and programs. We have led the way in providing distance/online English as an Additional Language (EAL) and pre-employment services to immigrants across Nova Scotia and around the world. We have developed new models for service delivery in small centres around Nova Scotia. These models have been recognized and presented at conferences at both the national and international level.

Sponsorship Agreement Holder

In 2011, ISANS became a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) in the federal Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. This allows ISANS to work with individuals and groups to undertake direct sponsorship of refugees still abroad. ISANS partners with refugees who are already settled in Nova Scotia, along with other individuals and groups, to guarantee the financial resources required to ensure the successful settlement of the sponsored refugee. It is a concrete way to engage the community in the humanitarian and compassionate work of assisting refugees in Nova Scotia be reunited with their families and loved ones.

Settlement Online Pre-Arrival (SOPA)

Piloted in 2015, SOPA works to improve linkages between pre-arrival and post-arrival services for newcomers using ISANS' suite of professional online tools.

SOPA is a partnership of settlement agencies across Canada, using a common platform and proven pre-employment and workforce integration tools dedicated to the economic integration of immigrants. ISANS provides the framework, tools, expertise and support to prepare immigrants for the Canadian workplace.

Participants have access to all resources and courses at no charge. They include one-on-one orientation, job search support, and workplace culture training, as well as referral to a wide range of post-arrival services upon entry to Canada.

To be eligible for SOPA’s pre-arrival services, an individual must live outside of Canada, received approval for Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to immigrate to Canada, have an English level (IELTS) 5.5 or higher, and have access to a computer and high speed internet connection. Eligibility may be modified for SOPA for refugees and youth.

SOPA Partner Agencies across Canada

SOPA builds on the strategic advantage of SPOs and the knowledge, experience, contacts and work they already do creating a continuum of settlement services from pre-arrival to their destined community in Canada.

Our national partners include:

  • Atlantic - ISANS
  • Ontario - Catholic Centre for Immigrants & World Skills Employment Centre
  • Manitoba - Altered Minds Inc.
  • Saskatchewan - Regina Open Door Society
  • Alberta - Calgary Catholic Immigration Society
  • British Columbia - MOSAIC

What are the resources and services available through SOPA?

SOPA provides online pre-arrival orientation, employment support, and workplace culture communication support to immigrants destined for the Canadian labour market. It provides a wide range of resources and programs to support newcomers with job readiness, success and retention. Before courses begin, newcomers must participate in an Intake and Orientation session where they are guided through a personalized one-hour planning session on career and settlement goals.

SOPA’s primary focus is targeted to pre-arrival employment related activities and outcomes, but includes components related to needs assessments, referrals, and information and orientation as it relates to strengthening the employment and workforce integration goals.

Courses and services include:

  • Soft Skills: Professional Communication
    Explore different types of interactions and learn about culturally appropriate communication and behaviours for the Canadian workplace.
  • Soft Skills: Working with Others
    Learn about Canadian workplace culture and the effects culture has on how we communicate with each other
  • Job Search Strategies
    Learn and practice skills to be more competitive for positions in the Canadian labour market.
  • Job Search Strategies Express (self-directed)
    Get preliminary information about the job search process and read about skills which will make you more competitive for positions in the Canadian labour market.
  • Canadian Workplace Integration
    Learn how to adapt, the importance of communication styles, how to expand soft skills using cultural communication, working with differences and understanding power dynamics in the Canadian workplace.
  • Working in Canada
    Learn about the unique characteristics of the Canadian workplace and how to integrate effectively into your field of employment in Canada
  • Introduction to Business in Canada
    Get an overview of what you need to know to start a business in Canada.
  • Employment Counselling
    One on one support to prepare for work in Canada
  • SOPA for Refugees
    Get an overview of what you need to know to prepare for work in Canada
  • SOPA for Youth
    Get an overview of what you need to know to prepare for work in Canada
  • Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
  • Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and
  • Physical Activity
  • Canadian Heritage
  • Colleges and Institutes Canada
  • Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Halifax International Airport Authority
  • HIPPY Canada
  • Immigrant Employment Council of BC
  • Immigrant Services Society of BC
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
  • J and W Murphy Foundation
  • MEC Community Investment Grant
  • Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency
  • Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage
  • Nova Scotia Department of Community Services
  • Nova Scotia Department of Education
  • Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education
  • Nova Scotia Office of Immigration
  • Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council
  • Ottawa Community Immigration Services Organization
  • Royal Bank of Canada Foundation
  • Social Research and Demonstration Corporation
  • St. Francis Xavier University
  • Trucking Human Resource Sector Council Atlantic

Statement of Compensation - March 31, 2020

Service Standards
  • We deliver services in a manner that is courteous and respectful.
  • We provide services that are accessible to our clients.
  • We provide services that are anti-racist and inclusive to our clients.
  • We give our clients clear, accurate and timely information.
  • We employ competent and knowledgeable staff to provide our clients with services that respond to their needs.
  • We protect our clients’ privacy both in face-to-face discussions and in the transfer and storage of client information.
  • We address clients’ complaints in a fair and timely manner.