Subject: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--Syrian youth make recommendations on settlement needs

October 21, 2016


Syrian youth make recommendations on settlement needs

VANCOUVER, B.C. – A report of recommendations to help the next wave of Syrian refugees settle in Canada was released October 18 highlighting outcomes of a first-of-its-kind Syrian refugee youth consultation and community forum that explored challenges and successes of the first eight months of resettling in Canada.

ISSofBC (Immigrant Services Society of BC) in partnership with the Fresh Voices Initiative of Vancouver Foundation hosted the Syrian Refugee Youth Consultation September 17 at the ISSofBC Welcome Centre in Vancouver. This full day consultation brought together Syrian youth to gain insight into their settlement experiences, challenges and successes in Canada.

The second part of the project gathered representatives from private and public institutions in the Community Stakeholder Forum October 6 to share recommendations directly from the youth. Participants at the Community Stakeholder Forum further discussed the needs, potential solutions and best practices in addressing each of the recommendations presented.

October 18 a summary report was released with the recommendations formed in collaboration with the youth participants. In the report, youth participants focused on two key issues:

Housing: The housing crisis in the Lower Mainland has affected many of the participants’ families since arriving in Canada. Participants shared concerns about the lack of housing options, high rental prices and lack of adequate space for larger families. There is a need for a housing strategy for new refugee families destined to cities in the Lower Mainland to address the many challenges refugee families face.

Education: Participants expressed confusion and lack of understanding of the education system in Canada. Many felt lost and unsure of what their next steps are in finishing high school, enrolling in post secondary courses, and how to connect all of this to finding employment. There needs to be a pathway to employment strategy in place for this group of young adults that includes an education plan.

Other recommendations:

Employment: Provide refugee youth with much-needed employment programs to address the barriers they face in entering the labour market.

Peer-to-Peer Support:
Provide more opportunities for Syrians to come together and support each other. Participants voiced concerns on the issue of isolation due to language or cultural barriers.

Family Reunification:
Many youth have left family members behind and the journey to Canada was not easy. This affects their process of integration, increases stress level and impacts their mental health negatively. There are currently few opportunities to communicate the hardships that accompany family separations to federal immigration officials.

General quotes from youth participants at the consultation & forum:

“Canadians did not make us feel like we were refugees; it was a very welcoming experience with lots of support and well wishes.”

“We feel that we are all equal here regardless of religion and ethnicity; we are respected regardless of our backgrounds.”

“We want to care about Canada like our own country.”

“Thank you to Canada for opening your doors when others closed them."

Quick Facts – Syrian Refugee Youth Consultation
  • Date: September 17, 2016
  • Location: ISSofBC Welcome Centre in Vancouver
  • Participants: 57 Syrian young men and women, between the ages of 15 to 24, in their first eight months in Canada. 
  • One out of every three GAR (Government Assisted Refugee) youth that arrived in Metro Vancouver & Fraser Valley since November 2015 was represented at this consultation. 
  • Participants travelled from all over Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley to be part of this discussion.
Quick Facts – Community Stakeholder Forum
  • Press Conference was held with six Syrian refugee youth representatives
  • Six Syrian refugee youth representatives sat on the panel and discussed the recommendations and how it affected their families. 
  • 50 community stakeholders from Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley area attended including representatives from: BC Government, School Districts, Settlement Service Provider Agencies, Health Authorities, Private Sponsorship Groups and many more.
A copy of the final report, photos of events and video are available on our website.
Media inquiries:

ISSofBC - Chris Friesen T: 778-995-3009

Fresh Voices - Jorge Salazaar T: 778-882-0956
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