• Yasmeen Khankan & Emaan Qazi

Canadian Refugees: Supporting their Integration into Canadian Society

“Refugees are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, with the same hopes and ambitions as us— except that a twist of fate has bound their lives to a global refugee crisis on an unprecedented scale.” — Khaled Hosseini

It is no question that 2020 has been an exceptionally difficult year for people across the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has swept across nations, tragically taking over a million lives and destroying the means of survival for many [1]. All the while, civil unrest has continued to rage across the globe in response to long-standing and invasive social issues. Canadians have not been exempted from these difficulties and we too are fighting to combat complex systemic problems and a failing economy.

However, it is easy to take for granted some of the liberties we are afforded in Canada. Imagine enduring the hardships of 2020 but at the same time, living in a country that is no longer safe. A country that has been plagued by war, violence, extreme poverty, or the wide-spread persecution of individuals due to their race, religion, sexuality, or ethnicity. Imagine what kind of conditions would force people to flee their homes and seek asylum elsewhere.

Although Canada is among the most pro-refugee countries in the world, anti-refugee rhetoric and misinformation is still a prevalent issue. Nearly half of Canadians believe that refugees are not truly refugees, and that they only seek to take advantage of our economy and welfare services. A third of Canadians believe that refugees from other countries should not be allowed to take asylum in Canada, and a third believe that we should close our borders entirely. This perspective has increased since 2017 [2].

Contrary to these beliefs, refugees and immigrants are important contributors to Canada's economic growth and culture. Canada has an aging population, a low fertility rate, and it is projected that the ratio between Canadian workers to retirees will be 2:1 by 2036. Since immigrants are typically younger individuals, they play a vital role in supporting Canada’s labor force. Additionally, since 50% of immigrants between 25-64 have a bachelor’s degree or higher (compared to 25% of Canadian-born citizens), they contribute to the country’s skilled labour force as well [3].

There are aspects of the life of a refugee that many people may not know about. Terrifying adversities that come with escaping their home countries, sneaking through borders, and crossing oceans for just the chance of finding a safe place for their families. One World United hopes to inform Canadians about the facts around refugees, their experiences, and their valuable contribution to Canada’s culture and economy. Through our programs, we aim to support the health, security, and prosperity of refugees, while providing resources to develop their professional skills and integrate them into Canadian society.

Refugees need our support. With your contribution, we can actualize these programs and move towards our goal of providing refugees around the country with accessible support and socioeconomic mobility.

To support our cause, donate at www.1wu.org/donatenow.

One World United is excited to continue exploring topics around refugees to inform Canadians on their experiences in today’s world, and to provide a platform to help support them.

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