A refugee is a person who is forced to leave his/her home country to seek protection from harm.
Canada applies the 1951 Refugee Convention definition:
A refugee is a person who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country..."
The 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
An Internally Displaced Person (IDP) is someone who has been forced out of their home, but remains in their country of origin.
The level of protection for IDPs is very low.
Refugee vs. Immigrant
Immigrants choose to leave their country, often for economic or family reasons, while refugees flee due to a fear of persecution. Staying in their country of origin is not a reasonable option for refugees .
Common Myths With data from Amnesty International Canada http:// www.amnesty.ca/Refugee/myths.php Because of its geographic isolation, Canada receives a relatively small number of refugees. By far the largest number of refugees are in developing countries. The number of refugees Canada accepts each year is less than a tenth of 1% of the population. Canada takes in more than its share of refugees The majority of asylum-seekers are driven by conflict and repression. Refugees abuse the system to come to Canada and get rich Studies show that refugees and immigrants contribute positively to our economy. Many refugees start small businesses that employ both themselves and "native" Canadians. Refugees are a drain on our economy and they take jobs away from Canadians. Canada has a stringent refugee screening process. The refugee system lets criminals and terrorists into Canada REALITY MYTH
The reality is that many dynamic, industrious, intelligent individuals are or were once refugees.
Social isolation (particularly in the first weeks/months)
Loneliness and homesickness
Limited employment opportunities
Negative host culture attitudes and assumptions
Lack of access to essential services
Adjustment to new culture, rules, customs, language, weather
Barriers to resettlement
Issues Faced Upon Arrival
“ Just imagine, suddenly, you lose everything you have worked for all your life – all the people and things you cherish and love. The experience reduces you to a child and the response of others intensifies it. All of a sudden you are having to learn the basics of life again : how to speak, behave, how to interact with people, find a job, learn a skill as if your past education was a slate wiped clean. Whatever you have learned before, all your previous achievements are worth nothing in the country of refuge.” - Haideh Moghissi, Queen’s University, Kingston “ Resettlement is like trying to walk again only you are a lot heavier.” - Resettled refugee
Recall that individuals who have re-settled in Canada (including those students who arrive through the SRP) are no longer refugees – they are Permanent Residents in Canada.
A diversity of experiences
The experience of each refugee and former refugee is unique. Generalizations about “the refugee experience” or “the integration process” should be sensitive to the fact that they might not apply to all.