2.B Sponsors: From Mobilization to Engagement
B.1 How can private actors be mobilized to support refugee resettlement?
(ii) How can xenophobia and apprehensions regarding security be alleviated?
How Canada Does It
The involvement of community in private sponsorship itself decreases apprehensions regarding the “other.” When people are in direct contact with refugees and start learning about the challenges the latter face, they are better able to relate and become more engaged in resettlement efforts. Media and government actors can explain the medical and security screening procedures that refugees must go through prior to arrival in their country of resettlement. Government leadership in this regard is essential to ensure the public can obtain information on how security screening is performed, regular monitoring and review of screening procedures is performed, and linkages are formed with the broadest set of security partners possible to ensure the most accurate and up to date information is available.
“Canada has always been a country where we are able to adjust and accommodate, where we leave people to be themselves. We must let people wear what they want to wear. We must always be the kind of society that understands that other people have brought different stories and different narratives to this place. We must respect their stories as we ask them to respect ours.” - Adrienne Clarkson, 26th Governor General of Canada
A significant benefit of the community sponsorship model is the direct interaction between communities and refugees in helping the refugees adjust to life in their country of resettlement. Through this engagement, citizens are better able to understand the refugees’ past experiences and present resettlement challenges. Private sponsorship promotes understanding and tolerance because it enables citizens to better relate to the experience of individuals with different cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. This direct engagement and learning itself reduces xenophobia and security concerns because it increases understanding of not only the differences across cultures, but also the similarities in every human experience.
Positive stories about the private sponsorship experience in the media are important because they highlight the importance of providing a safe haven to refugees, the contributions that refugees can make to a society, and the life-changing impact that private sponsorship has on citizens and society.
It is also important for governments and media to clearly communicate the broad societal benefits of and humanitarian obligations associated with refugee resettlement, as well as the extensive screening processes that refugees go through prior to arrival to demonstrate that refugees do not pose a threat to the security of their country of resettlement. For example, the heads of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Establishment publicly backed the Government of Canada’s plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in late 2015 and early 2016, giving assurances that the screening procedures in place are rigorous. UNHCR and Canada have robust screening mechanisms to ensure that no person who is inadmissible to Canada for reasons of national security, serious criminality, or who poses a threat to public safety is accepted for resettlement. For more information about overseas screening, see 2.A.6 and 2.A.7.
The Government of Canada also works in close collaboration with its international allies to ensure that they understand Canada’s rigorous procedures.