Settlement and integration of French-speaking refugees in a Francophone OLMC: The case of Winnipeg and Saint Boniface, 2006 to 2016

Study on French-speaking refugees in Winnipeg and Saint Boniface.

Faiçal Zellama, Chedly Belkhodja, Patrick Noël, Moses Nyongwa, Mamadou Ka and Halimatou Ba

February 16, 2018

This project was funded by the Research and Evaluation Branch at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The views and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada or the Government of Canada.

Reference number: R27a-2016

Abstract

This research report examines the settlement and integration of French-speaking refugees in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In order to better understand this issue, the report starts by contextualizing it historically and conceptually. Chapter 1 focuses on the experiences of refugees. We examine the profile of the French-speaking refugees participating in our research, their trajectories from their home country to Canada, their assessment of government programs relative to their settlement, and their sociocultural and economic integration and challenges. The chapter ends with a presentation of the services received by the refugee participants interviewed, whom also provided an assessment of these services. Chapter 2 focuses on the perspectives of organizations serving newcomers in Winnipeg. After presenting a profile of the organizations that participated in the research, we examine the challenges that these stakeholders have experienced regarding the settlement and the integration of francophone refugees, the services offered by the organizations, their assessment of these services and their view on the government settlement and integration programs for refugees. Chapter 3 analyses and discusses the results presented in the two previous chapters in light of the main issue identified. The settlement and integration of francophone refugees in Winnipeg are examined through six variables in terms of gaps, the issues these raise and the relevant recommendations: housing, employment and training, education, official languages acquisition, health and social integration.

Executive summary

This research report is in response to a request for proposals issued by IRCC in the summer of 2016, for settlement and integration of French-speaking refugees in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In order to understand this issue, the report starts by contextualizing it historically and conceptually. The notions of immigration, of language policy, of official language minority community and of refugees are closely intertwined. We then define the research methodology of the project. It is mostly of qualitative nature, although we have collected some quantitative data through socio-demographic index cards that each refugee participant had to fill before his/her interview. The qualitative analysis draws on individual interviews and group discussions. We conducted 29 individual interviews with French-speaking refugees and two group discussions involving 11 other French-speaking refugees. We also conducted 17 interviews with organizations serving newcomers in Winnipeg. These interviews allowed us to have a more global perspective on the question of the settlement and integration of French-speaking refugees in Winnipeg, taking into account both the refugees and the organizations serving them. The report has three chapters. The first two present a descriptive analysis. Chapter 1 focuses on the experiences of refugees. After presenting the profile of the refugees participating in our research through a few sociodemographic variables, we examine their trajectories from their home country to Canada, a trajectory that affects their settlement and integration in the host society. We then focus on their perception of government programs relative to their settlement, their sociocultural and economic integration and challenges. The chapter ends with a presentation of the services received by the refugee participants interviewed who also gave us an assessment of these services. Chapter 2 focuses on the experiences of organizations serving newcomers in Winnipeg. After presenting a profile of the organizations that participated in the research, we examine the challenges that stakeholders have experienced regarding the settlement and the integration of French-speaking refugees, the services they offer, their assessment of these services, and their view on government settlement and integration programs for refugees. Chapter 3 analyses and discusses the results presented in the two previous chapters in light of the issues identified. The settlement and integration of French-speaking refugees in Winnipeg are examined through six variables, in terms of gaps, the issues they raise and the relevant recommendations: housing, employment and training, education, official languages acquisition, health and social integration.

Recommendations

Housing

  • The number of transition housing units for refugees could be increased.
  • The federal government could learn from the best practices of private sponsorship of refugees.
  • The federal government could invest more in social housing.
  • The federal government could create a program to help refugee housing.
  • Refugee housing could be more decentralized.

Employment and training

  • Training centers for refugees could be created.
  • Current employment services could be replaced by job market support services.
  • Employment and training services offered to newcomers could be more decentralized.

Education

  • The modalities of education given to French-speaking refugees could be logistically reorganized in order to better respond to their needs.
  • The content of education could be modified in order to be more relevant to the specific and diverse needs of French-speaking refugees.
  • Financial incentives could be created to make it easier for French-speaking refugees to better balance work and education.

Mastery of official languages

  • Language courses could be organized in cooperatively to allow newcomers to have a direct contact with the workplace and the language used there.
  • Languages courses could be better funded.
  • Translation activities in community organizations involved with refugees could be supported.
  • French-speaking families could be matched to English-speaking families to allow for exchanges and fast language acquisition.
  • Activities could be organized to make French language learning attractive.
  • Language instructors could be made aware of the problems experienced by refugees and give them psychological support as soon as they arrive on Canadian soil.

Health

  • The federal government could increase the resources in order to provide better care for refugees as soon as they arrive in Canada.
  • Organizations offering front-line services could be allowed to direct refugees to health professional as soon as they arrive in Canada.
  • Health for refugees could be approached from a holistic perspective; that is by looking at all of the principal determinants of health - employability, environment, mental health – physical health being only the tip of the iceberg.

Social integration

  • Some social organizations involved in the social integration of refugees in the host community could receive public funding or be better funded.
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