2.B Sponsors: From Mobilization to Engagement
B.6 What steps do sponsors need to take to prepare for the refugees’ arrival?
(iv) What types of preparation are necessary to immediately welcome refugees and prepare for longer-term stay?
How Canada Does It
A small number of sponsoring group members should welcome the refugees at the airport. The group’s settlement plan should outline which sponsors will fulfill the immediate tasks following the refugees’ arrival, which may include bringing the refugees to their temporary accommodation, applying for services like healthcare, opening a bank account, registering them in school, finding appropriate clothing, explaining how to budget available funds, and providing orientation.
Pre-arrival communication is beneficial for post-arrival planning (see 2.A.5). Before arrival and shortly after refugees arrive, sponsors should ensure they provide refugees with information about their budget and typical expenses they will incur such as rent, public transportation, and groceries, Canadian culture and the refugees’ community of resettlement, and the refugees’ rights and obligations in the resettlement country.
Members of the sponsoring group (as well as Canadian family members of the refugees, where applicable) should consider greeting the refugees at the airport, as this is a milestone moment for many refugees and sponsors, although the refugees may be exhausted and overwhelmed from their journeys. The sponsoring group should arrange to drive the refugees to their temporary accommodation. They should also consider providing a welcome package to the refugees and explain to them what to do in case of an emergency (provide phone cards, directory of contact names, etc.).
Depending on the sponsored refugees’ language abilities, sponsors may need to arrange interpretation to assist them in welcoming the refugees at the airport and helping them get settled in their first days/weeks in Canada. If the refugees have family members in Canada (who may or may not be members of the sponsoring group), these family members can facilitate communications between refugees and sponsors. However, if refugees do not have family members who can take on this responsibility and sponsors do not speak the refugees’ native language, sponsors will need to look to outside resources in their community to secure adequate interpretation assistance.
Shortly after the refugees’ arrival, the sponsoring group must help them with important tasks such as opening a bank account, applying for provincial healthcare and childcare tax benefits, and obtaining a bus pass. An appointment with a family physician should be arranged as soon as possible after the refugees’ arrival. If the sponsoring group is aware of any special medical needs, they should also schedule appointments with appropriate medical specialists (often following a referral from a family physician).