Lethbridge home to the largest Bhutanese community in Canada

Lethbridge is one of the most sought after cities for Bhutanese refugees who want to call Canada home.
At the end of May, 50 additional refugees will be moving to the Lethbridge which means Lethbridge will have the largest population of Bhutanese in the country.

Hundreds of Bhutanese spend their days learning English, many of them struggling to adjust because they have never spent a day in their lives in school.

Elma Guinto, Director of Flexibility Learning Systems says while many of the Bhutanese they work with have never gone to school they do end up working.

“We work with them and eventually over 90 per cent of them will get a job in Lethbridge.”

Vic Rizel, a 30-year-old Bhutan who moved here 5 years ago now has a full-time job at Lethbridge Immigrant Services. Rizel is just one of thousand Bhutanese refugees from the small Asian country who call Lethbridge home.

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“They see prospects here they see growth and they like the people and place,” said Rizel. “That’s why it’s a centre of attraction for a lot of the refugees.”

Sarah Amies the program director with Lethbridge Immigrant Services says Lethbridge is becoming more and more welcoming and inclusive and diverse all the time.

“It’s a small community to be able to get around and the cost of living is not as expensive compared to Vancouver. A lot of Bhutanese who settled in Vancouver left and came to Lethbridge.”

The first families arrived in Lethbridge in 2009. They are among the 6500 Bhutanese living in refugee camps in Nepal that Canada committed to welcome.

According to Lethbridge Immigrant Services the city of Lethbridge is the most saught after place on the list.

“I think it’s because a community is already established in Lethbridge and the community calls out to other members and says come and join us,” adds Amies.

In fact Lethbridge now has a Bhutanese grocery store that continues to grow its business as the population increases.

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