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Lessons in refugee resettlement


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With so many people fleeing their countries in the face of violence, aggression and conflict, the question of how to resettle people successfully in their new homelands has become more important than ever before.

Researcher Julie Drolet has studied resilience in the face of disaster, as well as fostering welcoming communities that promote the economic, social and civic integration of migrants and minorities in Canada. Read on to learn more about strategies that contribute to the successful resettlement of refugees in a new country.
To view a recording of the webinar, visit

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Lessons in refugee resettlement

  1. 1. Lessons in Refugee Resettlement Julie Drolet Associate Professor Faculty of Social Work January 17, 2017
  2. 2. Welcome  Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Calgary  PhD and MSW from McGill University; BSW from University of Regina and BA from University of Toronto  Research focuses on international social work including Canadian immigrant and refugee settlement and disaster social work and recovery  Former UNFPA Program Officer in Cameroon and UNHCR Intern in Malawi  In 2016, awarded a Killam Emerging Research Leader Award (SSHRC)  Invited member of the Western Region Research Advisory Committee  Co-Investigator in Pathways to Prosperity Research Partnership (  Co-edited a new book “Canadian Perspectives on Immigration in Small Cities” published in 2016
  3. 3. Outline  Key definitions  Global and Canadian context  Resettlement journey of refugees and settlement needs  Situation of Syrian refugees  Welcoming community, best practices and lessons learned
  4. 4. Who is a Refugee? The 1951 Refugee Convention states that: “a refugee is a person who has fled his/her country because of a well- founded fear of persecution on one of five grounds: race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” (UN, 1951). (UNHCR/Ivor Prickett)
  5. 5. Global Refugee Crisis According to UNHCR we are witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record (UNHCR, 2016) UNHCR Global Trends report finds 65.3 million people, or one person in 113, were displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution in 2015 (UNHCR, 2016) The vast majority of the world’s refugees – nine out of 10 – are hosted in the global South. Half are children, and half come from three war-torn countries – Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia (UNHCR, 2016) (UNHCR, Hollandse Hoogte/Warren Richardson)
  6. 6. Global Refugee Crisis  Global context • stats
  7. 7. Durable Solutions  There are three durable solutions: • Voluntary repatriation • Refugee return in safety and dignity to their country of origin and re-avail themselves of national protection • Local integration • Refugees integrate in the host country and avail themselves of the national protection of the host government • Resettlement Resettlement definition: “Resettlement involves the selection and transfer of refugees from a State in which they have sought protection to a third State which has agreed to admit them – as refugees – with permanent residence status. The status provided ensures protection against refoulement and provides a resettled refugee and his/her family or dependants with access to rights similar to those enjoyed by nationals. Resettlement also carries with it the opportunity to eventually become a naturalized citizen of the resettlement country” (UNHCR, 2011, p. 3).
  8. 8. Impact of Resettlement  Over the past 60 years resettlement has provided millions of people with protection and the opportunity to build new lives for themselves and their families  Refugees have made important contributions to the countries that received them  Canada is an immigrant-receiving nation  Communities must be prepared to welcome and support resettled refugees
  9. 9. Context in Canada  Population • Aging population and aging workforce; 320,932 newcomers in 2016; total population is 36,300,000  Welcoming Country • Canada is one of the most welcoming societies among immigrant-receiving countries  Humanitarianism • Canada’s history and strong commitment to humanitarian goals by resettling refugees
  10. 10. Integration model Director General, Integration-FCRO, IRCC, 2016
  11. 11. Resettlement  The three refugee streams:  Government Assisted Refugees (GARs) • Supported by the federal government for one year  Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) • Supported by private sponsors for one year  Blended Visa Office-Referred Refugees (BVORs) • Supported by federal government and private sponsors, each covering costs for six months of the first year
  12. 12. Settlement Journey  Before arriving in Canada • Pre-arrival services delivered in-person and online information on living and working in Canada • Orientation Abroad classes for refugees (CIC, 2016)
  13. 13. Short-term (Infographic, CIC, 2016)
  14. 14. Medium-term (Infographic, CIC, 2016)
  15. 15.  Medium-term • Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) support for ARs • Service Provider Organizations (SPO) help newcomers integrate by providing assistance with: • needs assessment and referrals; • information and orientation to help newcomers make informed settlement decisions; • language assessment and training to help adult newcomers function in Canadian society and contribute to the economy; • support for newcomers to find and retain employment, including referrals to assess foreign credentials; • building networks in communities; and • helping refugees fill out forms for health insurance, social insurance numbers, school registration and other necessities.
  16. 16. (Infographic, CIC, 2016)
  17. 17.  Long-term • Because learning a new language, finding employment and fully integrating into a new community takes time, settlement support services are available as long as a newcomer is a permanent resident. • It is not expected that all refugees will be able to fully support themselves after just one year in Canada. • Refugees are also encouraged to access as many free settlement support services as they need to help them succeed in their settlement journey.
  18. 18. Settlement Needs Resettled refugees require support to integrate into their new communities Photos (UNHCR) #WithRefugees
  19. 19. Settlement Needs  Employment  Language  Social integration  Places, communities and housing  Settlement sector  Immigration policies and processes  Education  Recreation  Public transportation  Spiritual and religious organizations  Women, children and family  Health and wellness (UNHCR/Zsolt Balla) (UNHCR/Haidar Darwish)
  20. 20. Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP)  Services are mainly for GARs • Immediate and essential services include: • reception at port-of-entry • transport to temporary accommodation • information and referrals to public services • assistance in finding permanent housing • life skills training • financial information • Income support • One-time start up allowance to cover costs for furniture, clothing, basis household supplies • Monthly income support (food, shelter, other necessities) for 12 months (@ social assistance rates)
  21. 21. Settlement Program  Settlement and integration services are available free-of-charge to permanent residents, including refugees: • Information and orientation • Literacy and language training • Labour market access support (access to jobs) • Community connections • Support services
  22. 22. Syrian Refugees  On November 24, 2015 the Government of Canada announced a five-  phased plan to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada as quickly  as possible. This goal was achieved on February 27, 2016 (Tunis, 2016).
  23. 23. Government Plan (Tunis, 2016)
  24. 24. #WelcomeRefugees (Tunis, 2016)
  25. 25. Destination by Province/Territory (Tunis, 2016)
  26. 26. Welcoming Community  Winston and Tina Bromley, along with Tanna and Joe Edwards, are part of a group of volunteers that has helped the Eshadi family to resettle in Peterborough, Canada. © UNHCR/Annie Sakkab/Leyland Cecco
  27. 27. Video Clip  49a74/canadian-community-helped-heal-wounds- war.html
  28. 28. Best Practices  Canada’s unique two-way model of integration  Settlement program  Whole-of-society approach to immigrant integration • Provinces and territories fund complementary settlement services, in addition to education, health and social services • Municipalities provide community support services such as housing and public transport • Service providers deliver services in communities large and small • Local immigration partnerships (LIPs)
  29. 29. Report on Syrian Resettlement  “Finding Refuge in Canada: A Syrian Resettlement Story” – Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights (December 2016) • Delays, bureaucracy and unequal treatment • Income support • High cost of housing • Immigration loans program • Language training • Employment • Mental health and response to refugee trauma • Violence against women • Family reunification
  30. 30. Recent lessons  Recent lessons learned from the Syrian refugee initiative: • Housing • Availability of affordable and suitable housing especially for large family sizes • Education • Specialized guidance is needed in classroom services for children and youth in the school system • Income Assistance • A significant number of GARs are expected to transition from RAP to provincial social assistance • Health and Mental Health • Some refugees have complex health and mental health needs • Employment • Increased access to training and labour market integration supports • Settlement Services • Language training, child care supports and social inclusion opportunities (Director General, Integration-FCRO, IRCC, 2016)
  31. 31. AAISA Report  “Provincial Needs Assessment: Improving Refugee Resettlement in Alberta” • Findings show that positive refugee resettlement experiences result from holistic programming that meets clients’ needs • Language • Housing • Health • Social integration • Employment • Inventory of services in Alberta that strongly reflects the basic needs of refugees (AAISA, 2016)
  32. 32. Refugees in Alberta (AAISA, 2016)
  33. 33. Urban/Rural Context
  34. 34. Services by Location (AAISA, 2016, p. 40) Rural areas include Airdrie, Chestermere, Cochrane, Drumheller, Grand Prairie, High River, Vulcan, Cold Lake and Okotoks (AAISA, 2016, p. 54)
  35. 35. Settlement Practitioners  There is great appreciation for the work of settlement practitioners and service providers • Client-centred programming that responds to the needs of refugees • First-language services • Culturally-sensitive and culturally-appropriate services • Childcare • Collaboration, communication and information sharing • Welcoming community and community connections including cultural brokers, events and wrap-around services (AAISA, 2016)
  36. 36. Alberta Syrian Refugee Resettlement Project  This current study aims to better understand the resettlement experiences of Syrian refugees in Alberta from their perspectives  Study commissioned by AAISA, and led by Habitus Collective and Julie Drolet, with funding from IRCC  Study includes GARs, PSRs and BVORs in Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat
  37. 37. Alberta Syrian Refugee Resettlement Project  Since November 4, 2016, Alberta has received 4,196 Syrian refugees  Qualitative research using surveys and interviews with Syrian refugees  Results will be available in March 2017
  38. 38. Refugee Study - Dimensions Language Employment Social Connections
  39. 39. Strategies  To ensure adequate support for all refugees by taking into account demographic factors such as age, gender, education, language, and other factors  To advocate for adequate income support and financial support to meet refugees’ resettlement needs  To assist with finding adequate and affordable housing  To volunteer and assist with refugees’ settlement and long-term integration by becoming involved and/or supporting language training; employment, training and education; mental health and appropriate responses to refugee trauma; and social connections
  40. 40. Strategies  To support immigrant and refugee serving agencies in local communities  To assist with the development of culturally appropriate interventions that address mental health including ongoing trauma and post- traumatic stress disorder  To facilitate family reunification of resettled refugees with members of their family still abroad facing persecution
  41. 41. Summary  Canada offers refugees a path to permanent residence, citizenship and resettlement/settlement services  Settlement and integration take time, and require support  Alberta aims to be a welcoming and inclusive province where refugees and their communities thrive together
  42. 42. Thank You Sign up for other UCalgary webinars, download our eBooks, and watch videos on the outcomes of our scholars’ research at
  43. 43. Other Webinar Topics For ideas on other UCalgary webinar topics, please email us at
  44. 44. References  AAISA. (2016). Provincial needs assessment: Improving refugee resettlement in Alberta. Retrieved from Provincial-Needs-Assessment-Final-Report-October-2016.pdf  Director General, Integration-FCRO, IRCC. (2016). Immigrant integration in Canada: A whole-of-society approach to help newcomers succeed. Retrieved from Prince-ENG-p2p1026.pdf  Tunis, D. (2016). Syrian refugee resettlement initiative. Retrieved from p2p2016.pdf  UNHCR. (2016). Figures at a glance. Retrieved from  UNHCR. (2011). UNHCR resettlement handbook. Retrieved from