A group of refugees from Syria meeting with the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. in Vancouver. (ISS BC/Facebook)

Syrian refugees

Two years later: Most Syrian refugees settling well in B.C., report says

More than 4,000 refugees arrived in the province from war-torn Syria in 2016

It’s been two years since more than 4,000 refugees re-settled in B.C., escaping the ongoing civil war in Syria.

In a new report this week by the Immigrant Services Society of B.C., Syrian refugees in this province say they’ve been getting acquainted with the culture, have found sustainable work, and hope to one day become Canadian citizens.

Overall, the report suggests most refugees have had a positive experience with new neighbours and co-workers, with many making non-Syrian friends. About 95 per cent are glad they came to Canada, and all but three per cent intend to become a citizen.

READ MORE: Is Surrey ready for Syrian refugees?

READ MORE: Syrian refugee family settles into life in Nelson

When most refugees arrived, they were placed in temporary housing in 65 cities around B.C. and given access to food banks. Of the 4,400 to get here, 920 were privately sponsored.

Twenty-seven per cent of refugees are now working in full-time jobs, the report said, while 13 per cent hold part-time jobs.

About half, or 56 per cent, still regularly rely on their local food bank.

On the other side, the report outlined how it’s been a difficult transition for some after witnessing extreme violence, chaos and all that comes with living in the middle of a civil war.

“While there are several positive elements that indicate greater integration after two years in Canada, we cannot lose sight of a minority of Syrians who continue to struggle for various reasons,” the report read.

The vast majority, or 80 per cent, report their current health is good, but another 11 per cent said their family is depressed. Of that group, more than half said their emotional health had worsened over the last year.

Approximately one-third report having no proficiency in English.

And with families larger than the typical Canadian family, with six to 10 people under one roof, the report said transportation is often tricky for parents taking several children to school, medical appointments and social outings.

Canada’s Syrian refugee program paves way for future

The immigration society has made nine recommendations in how future refugee programs can be improved.

It suggests implementing an asset-based pre-arrival assessment that would look at a refugee’s work experience, skills and abilities to prepare the potential for work ahead of arrival.

It also suggests allowing extended family to move during resettlement, mitigating financial barriers to post-secondary education through changes to the BC Student Assistance program, and creating a low-income transportation fund.

Expanding mental health-related coverage from one year to three years is also on the list.

“The horrific migration-related trauma of living through a civil war and years in an urban or closed refugee camps call for new national models of support,” the report said.

“If Canada continues to select special refugee populations for resettlement like the Syrians or more recently the survivors of Daesh and the Yazidis, we urgently need a PanCanadian settlement-informed refugee trauma program funded in large part by the federal government through the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Port Hardy council to apply for poverty reduction program grant funding

How should the District of Port Hardy deal with the issue of poverty?

North Island Bantam Eagles rebound from first loss with two big wins at home

The Eagles took down the top ranked Tier 1 Comox Valley Chiefs 5-3 on Sunday at the Chilton Arena.

Salvation Army’s kettle campaign kicks off Nov. 21 in the North Island

The Salvation Army still needs more volunteers to help make the campaign easier to run.

The Wardens play the Gate House Theatre in Port McNeill

The evening was not only a night of music, but also of storytelling.

LETTER: Woss helps out in time of need

“I just wanted to acknowledge the wonderful people we met in Woss”

Bye bye Bei Bei: Giant panda born in U.S. zoo heads to China

Panda heads back to China as part of cooperative breeding program

B.C. to advocate for frustrated, confused, unhappy cellphone users, says premier

Maple Ridge New Democrat Bob D’Eith to advocate for more affordable and transparent cellphone options

B.C. man who killed Belgian tourist near Boston Bar gets life in prison, no parole until 2042

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

Salvation Army kettle campaign targets $200,000 for Island residents in need

Goal is to raise $250,000 this year for Vancouver Island residents needing support

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

Daily cannabis linked to reduction in opioid use: B.C. researchers

Researchers looked at a group of 1,152 people in Vancouver who reported substance use and chronic pain

Port Alberni rallies for mill workers

Fundraisers helping ease the sting of five months without work

Island student lobbies school board for dress code consistency

Jaylene Kuo contacted school trustees after seeing dress guidelines at brother’s school

Most Read