Refugees bring tremendous resilience, potential, and skills to Canada. With the support of the community and settlement agencies, refugees not only become independent and integrate into their local communities, but they thrive and make active contributions to Canadian society.
Refugees can spend months to years in transition before they are resettled to Canada. During times of conflict and displacement, many refugees endure trauma, experience disruption of social, family, and community networks, and are exposed to violence and harsh living conditions.
Many refugees are overwhelmed, confused, and extremely anxious about their future upon their arrival in Canada and this may continue during their longer-term settlement. They often experience high settlement and integration barriers due to factors such as:
- Pre-migration trauma and displacement
- Interrupted education
- Language and literacy barriers
- Physical and mental health challenges
- Limited understanding of the health care system and access to health care
- Lack of employment opportunities or precarious employment
- Limited employment readiness
- Challenges transferring life and employment skills
- Social and physical isolation
- Low confidence and self-esteem
- Lack of access to safe, affordable and appropriate housing
For certain groups of refugees (e.g. families, single mothers, women, youth and children, seniors, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, etc.), these barriers may be even more pronounced and manifest in different ways.
As such, from the moment refugees arrive in Canada, they require various services ranging from airport reception to resettlement assistance to long-term settlement services including settlement information, employment support, language training, and community connections. For highly vulnerable refugees with multiple barriers, they require intensive and specialized individual and group-based programming rooted in a case management approach.