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

Reel Reviews: A cure for anger

We say, “Purge it up, goofballs.”

Kelowna families honour the dead by releasing butterflies

The Nicholson matriarchs release 33 butterflies

Carr’s Landing Art Tour showcases local talent

14th annual tour in Lake Country July 28-29 and Aug. 4-5

The Okanagan Croatian Club all smiles after World Cup loss

They say winning second place brought Croatia to the world stage

East Shuswap Road wildfire’s fire line being controlled

Firefighters saved an eagle’s nest and eaglets while controlling fire lines

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Course veterans seize victory in Peach City Classic

The first place titles in this year’s triathlon belonged to returning competitors.

Vernon writers launch online workshop for teens, young adults

Storymakers’ Raise Your Voice workshop seeks to help women writers uncover and use voice

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

Your reviews: John Fogerty rocks the South Okanagan

Photos and reviews from fans in Penticton at John Fogerty’s concert in the SOEC

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Most Read