2.C Settlement and Integration
C.7 How is cultural orientation treated?
(ii) How can refugees preserve their cultural heritage while adapting to life in their resettlement country?
How Canada Does It
Canada has a policy of multiculturalism rooted in the fundamental belief that all people are equal. Multiculturalism enables all Canadian citizens and permanent residents to maintain their linguistic, cultural, and religious differences and encourages Canadians to maintain family and cultural traditions consistent with Canadian values. Canada supports a two-way street of integration, which allows newcomers to develop a sense of belonging while enabling institutions and community members to better understand the contributions of refugees and the challenges they face.
Multiculturalism encourages full integration into Canadian society and active participation in social, cultural, and political affairs. Refugees may continue to practice and celebrate their traditions, while respecting Canada’s political and legal process, human rights, and equality before the law. Issues should be addressed by Canadian legal and constitutional means.
Refugee integration into Canadian society is supported through education, employment, language acquisition, cross-cultural understanding and by fulfilling rights and obligations as permanent residents. Refugees are free to practice their traditions that are consistent with Canadian law. Practices that are not tolerated include spousal abuse, honor killings, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and other forms of gender-based violence.
Sponsors play an important role in the economic, social, and cultural participation and integration of refugees. Not only do they introduce refugees to important services, but also to social activities in the community in which the refugees can participate and contribute actively and develop their own social networks.
Orientation must involve two-way cross-cultural communications and adaptations by not only refugees to Canadian culture. Sponsors, settlement workers, and other members of Canadian society must also welcome, accept, and learn from refugees’ traditions and the challenges they face. Sponsors should remember that their role is to provide support in full respect of the refugees’ dignity and right to self-determination; the goal is to facilitate and empower refugees to make decisions about their own lives according to their own beliefs.