#WelcomingRefugees: How Canada’s Business Community can Contribute
By year’s end, Canada will welcome 10,000 refugees and by the end of February 2016, another 15,000 will arrive.
Canadians have been touched and motivated to assist this group of refugees. Desperate and often tragic circumstances reported daily in the media have moved people; and the Paris attacks of a couple of weeks ago have only served to strengthen the feeling that we “must do something”.
Where will they go?
Beginning in mid-December, groups of Syrian refugees will begin to arrive on Canadian soil. You can view a map of the communities where refugees are going here. Some smaller numbers of refugees have already arrived.
These people are part of two groups: Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) and Government Assisted Refugees (GARs). PSRs are arriving through sponsorship dollars raised by caring Canadians – whether formed through faith-based communities, community groups, businesses and families or other - Canadians are eager to help.
Upon arrival in Canada, people will either go to the communities where their sponsors are – and these include some very small communities – or larger centres where the government-assisted refugees (GARs) will go. The list of these centres follows:
St. John’s, Halifax, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, Saint John
Québec City, Trios-Rivières, Victoriaville, Drummondville, Sherbrooke, Montréal, Gatineau, Laval, Saint-Jérôme, Joliette, Sainte-Hyacinthe, Brassard, Granby
Windsor, Ottawa, London, Toronto, Kitchener, Hamilton
Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Edmonton, Medicine Hat, Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge
How can I help right now?
The government of Canada has an excellent dedicated website: #WelcomeRefugees
The news is filled with stories of families and groups wishing to help. Currently, what is most in need is money – money that can help provide much-needed assistance to settlement services as they are needed. You may feel that sending snowsuits is a good idea, but sending goods can become a logistical issue for organizations not used to the receipt of such things.
In the coming days, refugees will need access to housing, health care, schooling, language training, skills training/upgrading and more. The monies that you donate will enable the proper agencies to engage in these early resettlement activities. If you have local service agencies that work with immigrants, these might be a good place to start; there are also national agencies that are looking for volunteers and sponsors. For more information, please visit their website or call 1-844-61 SYRIA (1-844-617-9742, TTY: 1-800-465-7735).
Helping build awareness is a valuable thing to do in your community. Two chambers of commerce have done just that.
The London Chamber of Commerce CEO Gerry Macartney penned an opinion piece in the local newspaper.
The Regina Chamber of Commerce CEO John Hopkins has done the same in his local paper.
Resettlement and Integration
As the refugees resettle and take the first steps towards becoming Canadians, they will need training and ultimately, jobs.
As Canada’s business community, we urge you to start considering how, in your own businesses and communities, you could welcome new employees and provide them with the training and skills they will need to fully integrate into Canada’s communities and contribute to our development.
A large portion of this group of refugees will be youth – 15 years of age and under. We owe it to Canada’s future to engage these youth from the get-go. They will become our future workers and leaders.
Chambers of commerce and boards of trade across Canada are already engaged in working with their settlement agencies. More are wondering how they can be part of the welcome committee.
Canada has an opportunity on its hands. How we respond, sets the stage for the years ahead.
Numerous groups across Canada have a long and successful history of working with refugees. Many have created useful tools that you and/or your members may wish to access. Tools such as:
- An infographic which briefly outlines the phases of what will happen with these refugees. #WelcomeRefugees
- A webinar created by AMSSA
- On December 1, Perrin Beatty, President & CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce lead a discussion on private sector involvement at the Governor General's Foum on Refugees. The event was broadcast live on CPAC, please feel free to watch the event: Video
- An infographic shared by Ignite Fredericton regarding the journey of a refugee to Canada.
A number of resettlement and aid agencies exist in every province and territory. We encourage you to explore those within your region of Canada.
Canadian Council for Refugees
The Canadian Council for Refugees is a national non-profit umbrella organization committed to the rights and protection of refugees and other vulnerable migrants in Canada and around the world and to the settlement of refugees and immigrants in Canada. The membership is made up of organizations involved in the settlement, sponsorship and protection of refugees and immigrants. The Council serves the networking, information-exchange and advocacy needs of its membership.
Scope of Concerns
The CCR has a wide range of concerns relating to immigrants and refugees, which include:
- Protection of refugees in Canada and around the world
- Barriers to family reunification
- Delays in processing of privately sponsored refugees
- Trafficking of women and girls
- Impact of security agenda
- Refugee determination system
- Refugee resettlement
- Immigration detention
- Integration of immigrants and refugees
- Newcomers' access to services
- People without status
- Rights of children
- Newcomer youth
- LGBT refugees
The Red Cross provides support to government responses, especially in emergency situations. We have hundreds of agreements with municipal and provincial governments to provide emergency social services ( e.g. lodging, clothing, food, personal services, registration and tracking of family members). The Red Cross can count on a vast network of 20,000 volunteers and 3,000 staff across Canada.
The Canadian Red Cross has the capacity to respond to all kinds of disasters, big and small – from a single house fire (e.g. family of 4) to larger disasters like floods (e.g. Calgary floods, over 100,000 impacted) as well as man-made disasters (e.g. Lac-Mégantic) and mass influx of refugees (1999, Kosovo refugees and current operation to resettle 25,000 refugees).
For more information on the current refugee resettlement operation, please visit Redcross.ca/refugees.
Donations: The Red Cross donation page is active and can be accessed here.
Please note: The Canadian Red Cross is not in a position to accept in-kind donations of food, clothing and other items. It has been our experience that these items may not be the ones that refugees require. The processing, storage and transportation costs are a challenge as well. Other agencies may accept other forms of donations. However, should any businesses wish to donate significant amounts of relief supplies, please contact Tom Scinto at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies
Immigrant Service Society of BC
Manitoba Immigrant and Refugee Settlement Sector Association
Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council
Multicultural Association of Fredericton
Multicultural Association of Greater Moncton Area
Newfoundland and Labrador
Association for New Canadians NL
Department of Education, Culture and Employment, Labour Development and Standards
Immigrant Reception and Information Services
Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County
Wesley Urban Ministries
Prince Edward Island
PEI Association of Newcomers to Canada
Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes
Moose Jaw Multicultural Council
Regina Open Door Society
Sasktoon Open Door Society
Multicultural Centre of the Yukon