2.C Settlement and Integration
C.7 How is cultural orientation treated?
(i) What supports are in place to promote orientation? Who provides them?
How Canada Does It
Supports in place to promote economic, social, and cultural participation and integration pre-arrival include the Canadian Orientation Abroad sessions delivered by the International Organization for Migration and communications with sponsors. Post-arrival, sponsors, Canadian family members of refugees, settlement agencies, services like language training and public schools, and other community, cultural, and diaspora organizations all play important roles in helping refugees integrate into economic, social, and cultural life in Canada.
PRE-ARRIVAL: Refugees attend Canadian Orientation Abroad sessions delivered by the International Organization for Migration. These sessions help refugees prepare for life in Canada, develop realistic expectations, make informed settlement decisions, and contact other available supports. Pre-arrival communication with sponsors is also beneficial as sponsors can help answer refugees’ questions about their community of resettlement, prepare them for arrival in Canada, and help manage refugees’ expectations about what life will be like in Canada.
POST ARRIVAL: There are also post arrival supports to promote economic, social, and cultural participation and integration of refugees. Sponsors undertake to provide settlement services to help refugees adjust to life in Canada. They are central in promoting orientation as through their day-to-day interactions with sponsored refugees, they provide emotional and moral support, settlement assistance, and cross-cultural exchange and understanding. Sponsors play an important role in introducing refugees to social activities in the community, where refugees can participate and contribute actively and develop their own social networks. Some resettled refugees have family members in Canada who play a vital role in promoting orientation because they tend to speak the same languages and can more easily help refugees adjust to life in Canada.
Before and soon after arrival, sponsors should explain clearly to the sponsored refugees their roles and responsibilities during the sponsorship undertaking period. Sponsors should review the Settlement Plan with the refugees and clarify which individual sponsor has taken on which settlement task so that refugees know what to expect and who to turn to when issues arise.
A network of settlement agencies funded by provincial, territorial, and federal governments across Canada also provide settlement programming that supports the full participation of refugees in the economic, social, cultural, and civic life in Canada. They also connect refugees with other services promoting orientation that support their integration, including language training and schooling (see, e.g. 2.C.6(x)).
Other community organizations provide programming to help orient refugees and to help them build networks and a sense of community. For example, YMCAs across Canada provide settlement services and facilitates recreational activities and community-building events for refugees. Cultural and diaspora organizations also offer orientation, information, accompaniment, cultural supports, recreational, and cultural activities to bridge refugees with community members and service providers in the community.
Economic, social, and cultural participation and integration must involve two-way cross-cultural communications and adaptation among not by refugees, but also by sponsors, settlement workers, and other members of Canadian society. Sponsors should remember that their role is to provide support in full respect of the refugees’ dignity and right to autonomy; the goal is to facilitate and empower refugees to make decisions about their own lives.