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Halifax immigration organization considers changing name from ‘ISIS’

HALIFAX – A Halifax agency that offers immigrant services is considering a name change because of similarities to a terrorist group.

When clients call ISIS, the Immigrant Settlement & Integration Services agency in Halifax, they’re now greeted with “Immigrant Settlement, how may I help you?” instead of the usual “ISIS, how may I help you?”

The small change could be a sign of bigger things to come as the organization seeks to distance itself from the Islamic State terrorists.

“It wasn’t lost on us, the irony of the fact that our vision is building a community where all can belong and grow, and sharing that name with a terrorist group,” said Gerry Mills, the agency’s director of operations.

The agency settled on its name five years ago after it merged two organizations, the Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association (MISA) and Halifax Immigrant Learning Centre (HILC).

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Mills says the situation started deteriorating over the past few months, and is now affecting the work they do.

“People who aren’t quite as familiar with our organization, they go right to the terrorist organization. That’s what they think of first,” said Jennifer Mizzi, a language instructor at the agency.

Mills says the final decision will be announced within two weeks, but whatever the name, the organization will continue to provide the same services.

“We support immigrants to find work, to connect with the community, to open businesses to learn the language, to help settle,” she said. “That’s what we want to focus on. We don’t want to focus on this story of a name.”