Kitchener-Waterloo·WR Changemakers

Head of K-W Multicultural Centre reflects on changing landscape for newcomers

Lucia Harrison, CEO of the K-W Multicultural Centre, is being recognized for her work supporting immigrants and newcomers settle in Waterloo region.

CBC K-W is recognizing 10 Changemakers who have had a positive impact on the community

A photo of a woman sitting on an office chair with a laptop in front of her.
Lucia Harrison is the CEO of the K-W Multicultural Centre, which helps supports immigrants and newcomers in Waterloo region. (Carmen Groleau/CBC)

Waterloo region Changemakers highlights people who have made a positive impact on the community through their work and stories. The project is part of CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's 10-year anniversary in the region. The Changemakers were chosen by a selection committee made up of community members and CBC.

The Changemakers will be featured online and in an interactive photo exhibit at the Kitchener Public Library. You're invited to the photo unveiling ceremony at the library on Friday, Sept. 22 at 10 a.m. The exhibit will run until Nov. 3.

Since 2006, Lucia Harrison has been CEO of the K-W Multicultural Centre, which supports newcomers and immigrants as they settle and navigate a new life in Waterloo region. 

She said back then, it wasn't uncommon for organizations serving newcomers to work in silos.

"It became clear to me … that helping people settle in the community was not the job of settlement agencies. We had a role to play, but the entire community needs to come together to help people settle. The school boards, the hospitals, the businesses, it's much broader, for someone to feel welcomed, for someone to do well in this community," Harrison said in an interview with The Morning Edition host Craig Norris.

Harrison, who is being recognized as one of CBC K-W's Waterloo region Changemakers, was the first chair of Immigration Partnership, that helped bring all of the local players together, to work collectively and collaboratively. 

Challenges remain

During Harrison's tenure, the organization welcomed waves of newcomers to Waterloo region. As of 2017, one in four Waterloo region residents identified as immigrants and between 2016 and 2021, the region received up to 30,000 immigrants.

She said while there are many resources to support newcomers, challenges remain such as ensuring housing for all and health care language interpreters.

Harrison hopes to continue advocating for more resources across the board to help support the community. She said the impact that the organization has had on people's lives is what keeps her going.

Watch a clip: 

In this video clip, Harrison shares more about why supporting newcomers is so important to her.

WR Changemakers: Lucia Harrison

8 months ago
Duration 1:42
Lucia Harrison, CEO of the KW Multicultural Centre, is being recognized for her work supporting immigrants and newcomers settle in Waterloo region.

Listen to the full interview:

CBC K-W's Waterloo region Changemakers project aims to highlight people who have made a positive impact on the community through their work and story. The project is to honour the team's 10 year anniversary in the region. Lucia Harrison, CEO of the K-W Multicultural Centre, is being recognized for her work supporting immigrants and newcomers settle in Waterloo region.
A photo of a graphic that says Waterloo Region Changemakers.
(CBC News)

With files from Carmen Groleau and The Morning Edition’s Craig Norris