Private Sponsorship of Syrian Refugees: Perspectives of Sponsors and Refugees in Quebec
Marie-Jeanne Blain, Lourdes Rodriguez del Barrio, Roxane Caron, Marie-Claire Rufugari, Myriam Richard, Yannick Boucher et Caroline Lester
Dans A National Project : Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Canada – Edited by Leah Hamilton, Luisa Veronis and Margaret Walton-Roberts, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020
Résumé de l’article
Between 2015 and 2017, Quebec hosted 11,251 Syrian refugees (MIDI 2017). The majority arrived in Quebec through the “private sponsorship of the refugee’s program.” This program has repeatedly been presented as a notable model around the world. In this program, groups of two to five persons from the civil society or formal organizations, such as community-based organizations or religious institutions, accepted the responsibility to become sponsors to support the refugees’ integration and insured their basic needs for a period of 12 months.
But what are the experiences of the sponsored Syrian refugees? Given the “massive” arrival and the leitmotif of sponsors’ responsibilities for the integration of the refugees, it is needed to document the experience of sponsoring. The research pursues four objectives: 1. Describe the experience of Syrian refugees who are privately sponsored. 2. Document the access and use of support resources – public and community-based; 3. Identify the expectations of Syrian refugees and their sponsors; 4. Develop training and information tools adapted to the reality of Syrian refugees in a context of private sponsorship. In order to answer these questions, as part of a qualitative research, our team met with more than 50 participants and collaborators including, 19 refugees and 22 sponsors. The results of this research-action carried out between 2016 and 2017 reveal significant heterogeneity in sponsorship experiences, sometimes positive, sometimes ambiguous. Additionally, it has been noted that their experiences appear modulated through the lens of their respective expectations regarding the “sponsorship project.” From the perspectives of the refugees and the sponsor, this chapter develop: 1) their respective motivations and expectations; 2) the support received; 3) the relationship established. The conclusion open on the challenges but also the contribution of the private sponsorship program, while outlining the importance of complementary roles and responsibilities (governments, organizations, sponsors, civil society) that are central to the reception and hospitality of refugees.
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Since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, over 5.6 million people have fled Syria and another 6.6 million remain internally displaced. By January 2017, a total of 40,081 Syrians had sought refuge across Canada in the largest resettlement event the country has experienced since the Indochina refugee crisis.
Breaking new ground in an effort to understand and learn from the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Initiative that Canada launched in 2015, A National Project examines the experiences of refugees, receiving communities, and a range of stakeholders who were involved in their resettlement, including sponsors, service providers, and various local and municipal agencies. The contributors, who represent a wide spectrum of disciplines, include many of Canada’s leading immigration scholars and others who worked directly with refugees. Considering the policy behind the program and the geographic and demographic factors affecting it, chapters document mobilization efforts, ethical concerns, integration challenges, and varying responses to resettling Syrian refugees from coast to coast. Articulating key lessons to be learned from Canada’s program, this book provides promising strategies for future events of this kind.
Showcasing innovative practices and initiatives, A National Project captures a diverse range of experiences surrounding Syrian refugee resettlement in Canada.