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, Academic, NSCC

Alan Blyth – Vice Chair
Project Manager, Atlantic Central

Lilani Kumaranayake – Secretary/Treasurer
Executive Director, Finance & Treasury Board

Catherine J. Woodman – Past Chair
Senior Consultant, Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette

Cecil Snow - Board Member
CFO, Director of Corporate Services

Daniel Holland - Board Member
Management Consultant

David Nurse – Board Member
Counsel, McInnes Cooper

Leo Artalejo – Board Member
Communications Strategist, Facilitator & Coach

Nikhil Punjabi - Board Member
Program Coordinator, Innovacorp

Peter Moorhouse – Board Member
President & CEO, Better Business Bureau, serving the Atlantic Provinces

Saeed El-Darahali – Board Member
President and CEO, SimplyCast

Sara Abdo – Board Member
Coordinator, Disabilities Support Program, Refugee Resettlement, ISANS

Sonja Erman - Board Member
Vice President, Human Resources, Butterfield

Jennifer Watts
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.

  • Association of Canadian Community Colleges
  • Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
  • Bank of Nova Scotia
  • Community Foundation of Nova Scotia
  • Employment & Social Development Canada
  • Employment Nova Scotia
  • Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY)
  • Family Learning Initiative Endowment Fund
  • Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada
  • J & W Murphy Foundation
  • Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency
  • Nova Scotia Communities, Culture & Heritage
  • Nova Scotia Department of Community Services
  • Nova Scotia Department of Education
  • Nova Scotia Department of Labour & Advanced Education
  • Nova Scotia Office of Immigration
  • Royal Bank of Canada Foundation
  • St. Francis Xavier University
  • Toronto Dominion Bank
  • United Way
Statement of Compensation - March 31, 2018
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.