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Here’s how Syrian refugees who came to Canada say they’re doing — seven years later

December 21, 2022

By Canadian Immigrant Magazine |

The first cohort of Syrian refugees who settled in Canada seven years ago say they feel good about their new life, have remained friends with their sponsors and are hopeful for a better future.
Seven years after Canada opened its doors to Syrian refugees, that first cohort of newcomers say they feel good about their new lives, have remained friends with their sponsors and are hopeful for a better future.

However, many still struggle with finding gainful employment, according to a two-year research project by the Environics Institute.

For the newcomers and Canadians, the time between 2015 and 2016 was a defining moment of their lives and in this country’s history, as communities banded together and welcomed 25,000 Syrians within months during a national resettlement project.

“It was a feel-good thing. These people were coming over to Canada from a crisis. We were giving them a home. The government and private citizens were stepping up. They were settling in,” says Keith Neuman, research director of the study released Saturday.

“It was something that made a lot of Canadians feel good about their country, if you will. It’s kind of faded now in memory, but it hasn’t really soured.”

Researchers interviewed 305 Syrian refugees who came during that period about their lived experience and where they are today, seven years later. Participants, who responded to a callout, answered 125 questions in Arabic, English or French during in-depth interviews.

Almost nine in 10 described their current life in Canada in positive light, most particularly feeling safe and secure and being accepted by their local community in spite of different degrees of financial insecurity and challenges with employment.

While many said they appreciated the country’s rule of law and respect for human rights, the things they liked least in Canada included: the harsh weather (32 per cent), the initial challenges in adapting to a new culture and lifestyle (19 per cent), and being separated from families and friends (14 per cent).

An overwhelming 93 per cent of respondents said moving to Canada was the right thing to do, though six per cent expressed mixed feelings about the decision, while the remainder expressed clear regret or did not respond to the question.

“Canada is not a perfect country, but it’s a good country,” one participant told researchers. “You can do what you want in life; but you need to work hard, like anywhere, but here you have the tools for success.”

“I felt something I never felt back home. You’re free,” another was quoted as saying in the report. “Back in Syria, I had to iron my husband’s shirt every day, since I landed here, I never ironed a shirt once! People are all the same, there is no separation of classes.”

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