Syrian Refugees Settled in Saskatoon
Back in November, 2015, when the federal government announced its plans to settle some 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada, there was a flurry of activities across the country and Saskatoon was no exception.
Those refugees have now arrived and in Saskatoon, the last families were settled into permanent housing by the end of March. Saskatoon received 82 families---close to 400 people---in a three month period. This is almost double the number of government assisted refugees the Society receives in an average year.
“It’s challenging for people to move into a new country, a new community where everything is different—language, culture—but what I’m amazed about is the resilience and the resourcefulness of these families,” says Ali Abukar, Executive Director, Saskatoon Open Door Society.
Community response to the Syrian crisis has been outstanding. The Open Door’s Community Connections team set up four donation venues to accommodate the massive amounts of donations coming in from the public, and also expanded its volunteer capacity and programming as people came in to do whatever they could to help.
Now the task of integrating the new arrivals has begun. More English language classes have been added, programming in all areas has been increased and the newcomer Syrians are beginning to settle in.
There is still a lot of work to be done, especially since government-assisted refugees from Syria and other countries continue to arrive in Saskatoon. The Open Door is confident that the citizens of Saskatoon will continue to open their hearts to all newcomers and help make the city a welcoming centre for people from around the globe.
Lessons Learned: Agencies Meet to Discuss Syrian Initiative
Settlement agencies from across Canada recently came together at Lessons Learned: Syrian Resettlement, to discuss the federal government’s recent Syrian initiative. The forum, held in Ottawa April 18th and 19th, gave those working in Refugee Assistance Programs (RAP) the opportunity to share information, ideas and give input into how the process worked.
Ali Abukar, Executive Director of the Saskatoon Open Door Society accepted a medal of recognition from the Government of Canada for the agency’s involvement and contribution to Canada’s humanitarian program and the Syrian refugee initiative.
Shown here are Saskatchewan Refugee Assistance Program (RAP) representatives. From the left, Belma Podrug (Global Gathering Place), Ali Abukar, (Saskatoon Open Door Society), the Honorable Mr. John McCullum, (Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship), Ashley McLean (YWCA, PA) & Stephanie Palmer (Moose Jaw Multicultural Council).