Post Image

U.S. researcher shows how Syrian refugees settling in Vancouver adapt

December 18, 2021

By Vancouver Sun |

When refugees first arrive in Canada, as more than 25,000 Syrians did over the past six years, it is just the start of a long journey to fit in, according to a U.S. researcher who studied Vancouver’s 2,600 Syrian immigrants.

“The Syrians’ arrival in Canada suggests that their troubles have ended. However, resettled refugees may struggle to adapt, occupying the edges of an unfamiliar society,” said Prof. Mellisa Wall of California State University, Northridge, in an article published this month in the International Journal of Communication .

She interviewed 12 refugees and a dozen volunteers or sponsors, representatives from non-profits, and elected officials to find out how both new arrivals and those who help them settle create a sense of belonging.

“The level of commitment of some of these volunteers was astounding,” Wall told Postmedia. “They’re pooling their money to bring people here. It’s highly unusual that they pay to support people. In the U.S., they’re expected to make it on their own.”

She said Vancouver’s multicultural makeup also made it easier for the Syrians to adapt, an idea echoed by Khaled Alderwish, 17, who came to Canada from Syria with his parents and five siblings in early 2016 and now lives in Surrey.

“I live in a community with people from many countries,” Alderwish said. “They (other Canadians) don’t react with me as a refugee but like a human, like them, not like someone from somewhere else. I’m a Canadian, that’s it.”

He and his siblings have learned English through school, and his youngest sibling, who is six years old, speaks very little Arabic. But his construction worker father knows “only work English,” and his mother has limited English.

“She knows a lot of people, but not friends,” said Alderwish.

She said Vancouver’s multicultural makeup also made it easier for the Syrians to adapt, an idea echoed by Khaled Alderwish, 17, who came to Canada from Syria with his parents and five siblings in early 2016 and now lives in Surrey.

“I live in a community with people from many countries,” Alderwish said. “They (other Canadians) don’t react with me as a refugee but like a human, like them, not like someone from somewhere else. I’m a Canadian, that’s it.”

He and his siblings have learned English through school, and his youngest sibling, who is six years old, speaks very little Arabic. But his construction worker father knows “only work English,” and his mother has limited English.

“She knows a lot of people, but not friends,” said Alderwish.

Read more

 

 

Share this news!