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

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Four incumbents re-elected to School District 70 in Port Alberni

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District board will have a new look

ELECTION 2018: Sharie Minions named Port Alberni mayor

Haggard, Solda, Washington, Poon, Paulson and Corbeil named councillors

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Port Alberni residents enjoy public tours on Coast Guard vessel

PromoScience Expedition offered the public a chance to learn about marine research

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. man sets new Canadian marathon record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Cam Levins ran it in two hours nine minutes 25 seconds

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

Leaving B.C.’s electoral reform to a referendum is ‘ridiculous’: professor

B.C. voters getting ballots in the mail on proposal to change electoral system

Canada condemns killing of journalist in Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey

The Saudi government claimed Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a ‘fistfight’

One year to election: Trudeau Liberals gear up for tussles on climate, premiers

Analysts say that the Liberals have reason to be ‘fairly confident’

GUEST COLUMN: B.C.’s proportional representation vote is dishonest, misleading

Veteran of 2005 Citizens’ Assembly urges rejection of new voting systems

Most Read