#Immigration Matters in Coquitlam, British Columbia

A Serbian immigrant and his enthusiastic group of volunteers gather unsold food for people in need in Coquitlam.

Fighting food waste while feeding the community

Fighting food waste while feeding the community

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Transcript: “Immigration Matters in Coquitlam, British Columbia”

Video length: 2 minutes, 56 seconds

Inspiring piano and strings music plays throughout.

Shot of a train crossing a bridge. This transitions to a bird flying in front of buildings.

Text displays: “Immigration Matters in Coquitlam, British Columbia”

Igor Bjelac is in his kitchen making lunch for his daughter to take to school.

Text displays: “Igor Bjelac, Director, Immigrant Link Centre Society”

Igor: My name is Igor Bjelac and I moved to Canada in 2015 from Serbia. In Serbia we had a war situation, inflation was so huge my mom, I remember that one day she prepared just a zucchini stew, fried zucchini and at the end she made something sweet with zucchini, so you just ate zucchini on different levels.

Close-up of Igor's family photos hanging on a wall. This transitions to Igor looking at those pictures.

Igor is back in the kitchen preparing a bagel sandwich and packing it for his daughter’s lunch.

Igor: The reason why I moved here is because I wanted a better life for my daughter.

Igor is in the entrance of his house and zips up his coat, while his daughter also gets ready to go outside.

Igor and his daughter get out of a car and they both walk to the sidewalk of the entrance of her school. He kisses her on the forehead and she heads toward the school building.

Igor is at home with his daughter in front of the family photos. He points to the photos. Close-up of a family photo of him and his daughter.

Igor: The first year that I moved to Canada, my English was at a low level so I got English classes at the Vanier Centre.

Igor is in a car’s passenger seat talking to the driver.

The Vanier Centre exterior facade is shown.

Text displays: “Wendy Swalwell, Language Teacher, Vanier Centre”

Wendy: In these classes, they don’t only learn English, they learn all the ins and outs of our culture here living in Canada.

A woman is walking on a wet path, with a bag in her hand. Close-up of a puddle on the road while it rains.

Wendy: We were watching a documentary on food waste that was filmed in Vancouver.

A school corridor with wooden storage shelving is shown.

Wendy: After the video Igor was so excited, our students thought: let’s start a program to conquer the battle for food waste.

Close up of a map of Canada. Wendy is walking in the school corridor.

A table is shown with blue plastic boxes filled with food.

The scene fades to black.

Igor is in a school kitchen talking with David. They laugh.

Text displays: “David Truss, Principal, Suwa’lkh School”

David: Igor is someone who was inspired to do something in the community and he’s taken that to a level that most people just wouldn’t. He volunteers collecting food from grocery stores and different places that is near its best before date and then provides it to needy organizations in the community.

Igor is in the back room of a grocery store, carrying out boxes of food.

Igor and several other people help load the boxes in the trunk of a car.

David: Food is expensive, we are in public education and funds are limited and we’re happy to provide free food for students, but that could incur significant costs, and so to get food for free delivered to us is really important.

Igor, volunteers, and students are in a parking lot and bring the delivered boxes up to the school kitchen.

A cafeteria with boxes filled with food is shown. Someone closes a fridge full of products.

An empty cafeteria is shown. Close-up of hands rolling a ham and cheese crepe. The school cook puts the tray in the oven.

Volunteers and students are carrying boxes of carrots and yogurt.

Close-up of various kinds of squash on the counter.

The school kitchen full of boxes of food is shown.

The scene fades to black.

A church rooftop with a cross is shown. This transitions to a shot over Igor’s shoulder of a woman wearing a clerical collar in conversation with him.

Text displays: “Emilie Smith, Reverend, St. Barnabas Anglican Church”

Emilie: St. Barnabas is a community that’s much more than whoever comes to church on Sunday. It’s the choir, it’s the food ministries, it’s the thrift store, it’s the group home, it’s all of the different things that we do.

Series of quick shots: A black and white picture of the church. Sheets of paper with a choir singing in the background. Several food boxes on the ground. A church choir singing and clapping.

The church facade and garden is shown.

Emilie: Igor has been around for a couple of years and he’s one of those angels running around collecting food and bringing it to us, where we turn it over really quickly, right away.

Igor and Emilie laugh together. Igor carries a box with food to the church kitchen.

Close-up of a fridge, with fresh products inside.

Emilie and Igor go through what has been delivered.

Igor: Annually we are delivering food in the value of more than $750,000. It’s just 20 of us. We realized that how much volunteers can do is limited. We need to educate ourselves about food, we must respect food in the way that we respect humanity and the planet.

Tables with boxes filled with food are set up outside under a concrete canopy. Volunteers are going through the boxes and the food.

Someone is walking with a shopping cart. Another person is putting food in a grocery bag.

People are picking up food and walking away with full grocery bags. This transitions to one of the volunteers organizing the food in blue boxes.

Emilie: If we can tell the story of Igor to help others understand how important it is to live in this country, which is so diverse, which has so much richness, and look out for each other especially those who have the greatest need.

Emilie and Igor are talking.

Close-up of a newspaper article that reads: “Discarded food finds table instead of trash”. The black and white photo accompanying the article shows Igor smiling as he is placing a box of food into a car trunk.

Igor and a volunteer are in a parking lot. Igor shakes the volunteer’s hand and then hugs him.

Aerial view of Coquitlam.

The scene fades to black.

Text displays: “Immigrants enrich our communities.”

The scene fades to black.

Text displays: “Share your story #ImmigrationMatters; Facebook: @CitCanada; Twitter: @CitImmCanada; Instagram: @CitImmCanada”

The scene fades to black.

Text displays: “Canada.ca/immigration-matters”

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada corporate signature is shown, along with the copyright message, “Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 2019”, followed by the Canada wordmark.

Immigration profile: Vancouver, British Columbia

Quick facts:

  • Immigrants in the Vancouver area represent 41% of the population.
  • China is the largest source country of immigrants to the Vancouver area, followed by India and the Philippines.
  • More than 58% of immigrants who came to the Vancouver area between 1980 and 2016 were economic immigrants, while nearly a third (31%) were sponsored by family and 9% were refugees.

Did you know?

  • Vancouver has the second largest immigrant population in the country.

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