The federal government’s decision to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February is an important first step in their resettlement but following their progress over the next five years may be more crucial to ensuring they successfully establish themselves in Canada, say researchers at York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS).
“Integration is a long-term process that varies depending on the characteristics of groups and individuals, and the situations in which they find themselves. Gathering information about the refugees over the next few years would help to build a clearer picture of how the refugees are integrating, across age, education, gender, location and settlement support,” says Christina Clark-Kazak, acting director of York’s Centre for Refugee Studies.
“We need a coherent evaluation program that captures the experiences of as many Syrian refugees as possible, as well as the settlement sector, during this important initiative,” says York Professor Michaela Hynie, who has developed a holistic model that takes into account the relationship between social, situational and subjective aspects of integration. “These data would enable government and non-governmental agencies to judge the impact of different integration and settlement strategies, and to modify their services to meet the changing needs of the Syrian refugees.”
There are several suitable models for evaluating refugee integration and the data could be gathered by the Government of Canada in a way similar to the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada, or by settlement organizations, or an external group such as the Centre for Refugee Studies, with the cooperation of governmental and non-governmental agencies, says Clark-Kazak.
“However it is done, it should start immediately, in order to provide policy-makers with the information they require to evaluate and improve settlement services,” says Clark-Kazak.
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