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Canada’s commitment to refugee resettlement

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Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Canada Minister Jason Kenney joined the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in observing World Refugee Day earlier this month.  Canada’s longstanding commitment to providing a new home for refugees was acknowledged by the UNHCR, and current resettlement programs and integration initiatives were celebrated.

Every year, Canada’s refugee program provides protection to over 30,000 people from various regions around the world.  Canada becomes the new home to 1 in 10 refugees who are resettled globally.

Since World War II, Canada has provided refuge to more than 1 million refugees.

Canada’s refugee protection system benefits from partnerships between the Canadian Government and non-governmental organizations and private citizens through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.  Introduced thirty years ago, this private sponsorship program has enabled Canadians to resettle 200,000 refugees.

“We are grateful to Canada for its commitment and long-standing support in responding to the needs of refugees and the world’s uprooted people,” said UNHCR representative Mr. Abraham Abraham.

In addition to resettlement programs, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is also committed to helping newcomer refugees integrate into Canadian society.

CIC has recently announced that the Young Newcomers Internship Program (YNIP), which provides new Canadians with the opportunity to gain vital Canadian work experience through internships at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, will now become a permanent program.

In its first year, the four-month paid internship program was offered to 12 government-sponsored refugees from Sudan, Burma, Somalia, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan.
They were placed in different branches of the department, learning about government operations through job-shadowing.  At the end of the program, managers were so impressed by their interns that seven of them were hired full-time by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

“The intent was to increase the employability of the interns, not necessarily to guarantee them jobs,” said CIC’s manager of recruitment, Jason Buccino.  “There was nothing but praise for the hard work ethic and the type of work they put out.”

The first participants of the YNIP were selected through World University Services of Canada.  They have all graduated from a Canadian university with a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

“The success of this program shows that when you have faith in newcomers and give them a chance, you see how much hard work they will do to prove themselves and make a meaningful contribution to Canadian society,” says Nasir Maimanagy who partook in the YNIP.

“Employers get the benefit of a diverse workforce of well-educated, dedicated people, and for the employees, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.  They want to make the most of it.”

In the past year, the Government of Canada has committed to increasing the number of privately-sponsored Iraqi refugees over each of the next three years.  It has also selected 1,000 Bhutanese refugees from refugee camps in Nepal for immigration to Canada.  The goal is to resettle 5,000 Bhutanese in all.

At the World Refugee Day ceremony, Minister Kenney acknowledged the international, national, provincial, and municipal organizations that help with refugee resettlement.

“At home, as well, we could not do what we do without the cooperation and contribution of provincial and territorial governments, service providers and private sponsors, because ensuring protection is only the beginning of restoring dignity and meaning to the lives of refugees.”