With World Refugee Day having come to past, it is important to not let this remembrance of refugees to past as well. Many refugees that are struggling to start their lives here in Canada. Today’s blog post has intended to highlight facts about the refugees here in Canada.
- Nearly 50% of the Refugees are children. Almost half of the refugees who have arrived to Canada are children below the age of 16 and nearly 30% are below the age of four. This means that a majority of these families have on average 3 to 4 young children. Toddlers are very difficult to take care of and require a lot of time and work. Unfortunately, most daycares are extremely expensive which means many parents delay their efforts to learn English, upgrade their skills, and find better employment until their children start school so they have the time to.
- Family and Community are one of the main pillars of society in the Middle East. When one has experienced the love and belonging that is an inaugural part of the people in Syria, refugees will try to find the same in the West. As a result, many of these refugees look to their new neighbours, their fellow refugees and community members as their new family and only want the same in return. Having a friendly neighbour who helps them carry their groceries, or the person who prays next to them at the mosque helping them navigate the transit system or the cashier at their local grocery store showing them the best deals, gives them a sense of security and safety in a new and foreign land. We all know the feeling of being the “new kid” and it is definitely not fun.
- They have been in extremely traumatic situations for years! Many of the refugees arriving to Canada from Syria are actually refugees in Syria from Iraq. You can imagine how traumatic that must be; fleeing from your hometown to another country, beginning to settle down and make sense your life, only to be forced to flee once again.
- Almost all of them want to work, live normally and not rely on donations or welfare.
However, there seems to be a misconception that they are a burden on our economy. First of all, let’s be honest, one of the main reasons Canada is bringing in this many refugees, especially children, is to boost our economy given our aging population. These children are likely to grow up and give back to Canada in unimaginable ways. Nevertheless, even their parents have shown to take the jobs Canadians will not take, but they have given back as entrepreneurs and not wait around for donations and assistance. According to Statistics Canada, newcomers are more likely than those who are Canadian-born to own their own business, 5.3% compared to 4.8%, while 19.6% were unincorporated self-employed persons, compared to 16.9% who were Canadian-born. In addition, did you know that social assistance amounts are approximately $650-$700 in Canada? That barely covers the necessities for most people and they often must work to supplement this income.
- Many refugees are highly educated and led good, decent lives before the war. We here at the National Zakat Foundation have worked with many clients who had businesses, stores, wonderful jobs and incomes in Syria, but due to the war and their circumstances, they had to leave all that behind. To add insult to injury, their experience and education are not acknowledged here in Canada, as it is not the “Western experience.” As a result, refugees need to start from the bottom up once again.
- The biggest hurdle of resettlement is affordable housing. Sadly, this is no new phenomena to Canada. It is just a reminder that we have a huge affordable housing crisis that is only getting worse with fewer subsidized units available, halts on building subsidized housing and waist-lists that are over 5 years long. It is difficult enough for many born and raised in Canada to find affordable housing, so you can only imagine how difficult it must be for someone who is new to the country, experiencing culture shock as well as language and employment obstacles. These are only some of the issues that the newly arrived refugees have to overcome here in Canada.