Over the summer of 2021 the world saw what can only be described as the fall of Afghanistan. Taliban offensive forces rapidly overtook the country in a matter of weeks, causing chaos within its borders and concern from the international community about what would happen to its citizens.
There was a collective understanding that these individuals needed support, and along with it an understanding that we needed to take in refugees from that country. A few weeks later, the Canadian government committed to accepting Afghan 40,000 refugees (until now only 5,500 have been admitted).
This isn’t the first time Canada has taken in a large group of refugees at one time. There are parallels (and considerable differences) between what is happening now and what happened during the 2015 Syrian refugee crisis, and we can learn a lot from our successes and mistakes during that 2015 initiative.
On this episode of the podcast I speak with three individuals who have deep experience in refugee migration and settlement in Canada. First up is Thomas Soehl, an associate professor at McGill University and Canada Research Chair in International Migration. He is currently working on Tajribati, a project in which a McGill team is conducting interviews with thousands of Syrian refugees to explore the socio-cultural and political aspects of their adjustment to life in Canada, with a focus on intergenerational dynamics and informal support networks.
Next is Alexandra Dawley, Senior Manager of Refugee Resettlement and Integration Programs at Mosaic ─ a British Columbia-based organization ─ one of Canada’s largest resettlement nonprofits, which serves immigrant, refugee and migrant communities throughout BC.
Last I talk with Ramez Al-Jassem, who arrived in Canada in late 2016 as a Syrian refugee, to discuss his experience as a refugee and a Canadian citizen.