A year after they arrived as part of the largest resettlement initiative in Canadian history, Syrian government-assisted refugees (GARs) shared their experiences on their first year of living in BC.
Their outcomes are highlighted in a report “Syrian Refugee Operations to British Columbia: One Year In – A Roadmap to Integration and Citizenship” released today during a press conference at ISSofBC Welcome Centre.
The conference included opening remarks from ISSofBC Board of Directors Naomi Linklater, a presentation of key findings from ISSofBC Director of Settlement Services Chris Friesen, remarks from Vancouver City Councillor Geoff Megs, and words of gratitude and personal stories from Syrian refugees Eslam Al Abbas, Nour Alhuda Al-Hariri, Adburahman Saeed and Raid Abazeed.
The report reflects feedback from a consultation meeting involving close to 60 Syrian newcomer youth from Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley, and a phone survey of over 300 heads of household from the same area.
The report touched on respondents’ views on income security, education, housing, health, dental, mental well-being and family reunification.
But even as they were vocal in sharing their concerns and issues, respondents were keen to express their gratitude to “all Canadians who opened their hearts for us.” “Canadians did not make us feel like we were refugees,” said one.