The 2nd TCWC Community Profile - TCWCP - Success

tcwcp.successbc.ca

The 2nd TCWC Community Profile - TCWCP - Success

RefugeesIn Canadaand BClarge numbers of the Bhutanese arrivals had known no otherlife except inside a refugee campWith several hundred refugees expectedand a bit of time to plan for their arrival,preparations went well beyond anythingseen in the past, says Friesen. For the firsttime in B.C. representatives of federal,provincial and civic governments, alongwith school and health authorities, werebrought together by ISSofBC to undertakepre-arrival planning. More than 90 peopleattended a preparationforum, out ofwhich several initiativesarose. A partnershipbetween CoquitlamSchool District 43and ISSofBC resultedin a six-week summercamp to prepareBhutanese childrenfor school, as well asafter-school programsto help students keepup and stay occupiedduring the schoolterm. Nepali-speakinguniversity studentswere mobilized to aidin orientation. A newcomerwelcome guidebooklet and letter wasprovided by the Cityand Mayor of Coquitlam, and the ShareFamily and Community Services-led NewBeginning ECD Refugee program addedstaff who spoke Nepali. This was in additionto the standard array of programs offeredto refugees by other local communityagencies and the school board, such asSWIS workers and S.U.C.C.E.S.S.TCWCtri-cities welcoming communitiesCanada, bycontrast, wasbelieved to offerbetter services, andtended to attractthose with healthor other issues, atleast at first.There was also a recognition that the publicshould be aware of the Bhutanese and theirsituation. Information was made availableon the web and elsewhere, and the mediawas enlisted. With their compelling story, therefugees attracted the attention of outletsranging from radio stations and communitynewspapers through the Vancouver Sun andthe Globe and Mail, which sent a reporter andphotographer to Nepalto follow the progressof a refugee family thatsettled eventually inCoquitlam.Speaking as both afront-line worker andan academic, Khadkasays that the programshave generallyfunctioned as intended.On this day he’sarrived at the office inCoquitlam’s Cottonwoodneighbourhoodby way of a maternityward, where he helpeda young couple understandwhy theirnew baby wasn’t beingdischarged alongwith the mother. It was a simple case of thepremature baby needing to gain a few extraounces, but hospital staff had been unableto communicate that to the worried parents.Without an interpreter the communicationgap might have grown into a much biggerproblem. A 2011 survey of Bhutanese arrivalsconducted by Metropolis British Columbia,continued on page 4In recent years Canada has admittedbetween 15,000 and 30,000 refugeesa year. These divide fairly equally intothree categories: refugees landed inCanada (for example, asylum seekers),privately sponsored refugees, and governmentassisted refugees, as in thecase of the Bhutanese.In 2012 about 7% of all Canadian refugeesarrived in BC, slightly less thanour proportion of the national populationand significantly below the 16% oftotal Canadian immigrants received bythe province.Top source countries for GovernmentAssisted Refugees in BC in 2012 wereIran, 26%; Afghanistan, 26%; Somalia,14% and Iraq, 14%. Just 4% were fromBhutan.Since the beginning of 2012 the leadingBC municipalities for refugeesettlement have been Surrey, 33%; Tri-Cities (primarily Coquitlam), 20%, andBurnaby, 13%.• The source countries of GARs settlingin the Tri-Cities in 2012 wereIran (43%), Afghanistan (33%),Bhutan (21%) and Iraq (2%).• Almost 35% of GARs settling inthe Tri-Cities are children andyouth under 18 years old.tcwcp.successbc.ca | Tri-cities Welcoming Communities 3


The Tri-CitiesWelcomingCommunitiesProjectAs one of Canada’s leading centres for thesettlement of recent immigrants, the Tri-Cities of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam andPort Moody have embarked on an initiativeto ease and enhance newcomers’ experienceswhile making the region a morewelcoming and inclusive community. Initiatedby S.U.C.C.E.S.S. a diverse group ofcommunity leaders and stakeholders areworking together as an active Advisory todevelop, implement and oversee all elementsof the Tri-Cities Welcoming CommunitiesProject.Bhutanese RefugeesBy The Numbers100,000+Number expelledfrom Bhutan230Number currentlyliving in B.C.800-900Number originallyexpected in B.C.80,000Number resettled inrefugee recipient countries6,500Canada’s allocationof Bhutaneserefugees4Meet ourAdvisorymembers.ACT 2 Child & Family ServicesCity of CoquitlamCity of Coquitlam, RCMPCity of Port CoquitlamCity of Port MoodyCoquitlam Public LibraryDouglas CollegeDouglas College, The Training GroupFraser Valley Regional LibraryISSofBCMinistry of Children & Family DevelopmentPort Moody Public LibraryS.U.C.C.E.S.S.School District No. 43 (Coquitlam)SHARE SocietyTri-Cities Chamber of CommerceTri-Cities Seniors Planning TableVancityWest Coast Family Centres SocietyProject CoordinatorsPEERs Employment & EducationResourcesTri-cities Welcoming Communities | tcwcp.successbc.caa centre of excellence for research on immigrationand diversity, identified some complaintsbut also found high utilization of theservices provided and a generally positiveoutlook toward life in B.C.Nevertheless, Khardka says, the situationwith the Bhutanese is far from ideal: only afew have been able to find jobs here, and asignificant proportion remain on social assistance.His PhD thesis will reflect a soft labourmarket in which employers have provenunwilling to take a chance on the refugees.Most Bhutanese want to work and wonderwhy they haven’t been able to land jobs, hesays. A common sentiment is, “We can mowthe lawn; we can do construction.” They wonderwhy they are offered social assistance butnot the vocational programs they need to getthe jobs that are available.That said, the Bhutanese have been findingjobs — just not in B.C. Many of the severalhundred refugees expected in Coquitlamnever made it here, landing instead in otherprovinces, mostly Alberta, where jobs aremore prolific and employers more willing totake a chance. And a chunk of the more than200 Bhutanese who did arrive in Coquitlamhave already left. In late July one group simplyrented a charter bus, and high-balled it toLethbridge. “Thirty-six people,” Khadka says.In Alberta the Bhutanese are finding work invarious sectors including construction and foodpreparation, but mostly in chicken packingplants, especially one in Lethbridge. Therethey are paid about $12 an hour, says Khadka,and have proven to be unusually reliable employeesin an industry characterized by highturnover. The same company that has hiredso many Bhutanese in Lethbridge also has aplant here, but has yet to take on any at itslocal operation.To people like Khadka and Friesen, the experienceof the Bhutanese offers both lessons andcautions for future large refugee resettlementmovements to BC. They’re gratified that theprograms they and other community partnershelped set up and run have been well-receivedand, in many ways, effective. They also can’thelp but approve of the initiative shown bythe Bhutanese in hunting down jobs, whereverthey may happen to be. The experienceshould help assuage the fears of some Canadiansthat refugees are destined to forever bea cost to society rather than a benefit.At the same time they regret the stressescaused by high unemployment in the Bhutanesecommunity here. Still, Khadka hopesthe situation is beginning to improve. As theybecome more Canadianized, some of theBhutanese are comfortable travelling backand forth between here and Alberta. And, hesays, while the adults have low literacy levelsand few marketable skills, their children aresettling into both life and the job market alot more easily.TCWCtri-cities welcoming communities

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