How to be a Welcoming Community
Refugee newcomers bring many gifts to our communities including education, artistry, deep beliefs, values, experience and family bonds. Refugee newcomers contribute to the strength of our community, our economy, and our diversity. Their courage and determination to rebuild their lives and pursue their ambitions are evident by their resilience and will to survive.
With Canada’s long history of settlement and immigration, being a welcoming community should be an easy task, but, with such an influx over a short period of time, it may seem challenging in some of the communities that the refugees will be settling in. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of ways that communities can help to welcome refugees
Hospitality: We can offer our friendship by visiting the newcomers and inviting them into our homes. While we will be busy trying to provide tangible supports such as collecting household goods, and connecting them to services, the greatest thing any of us can do to welcome refugees into our communities is to extend friendship to them. Hospitality brings comfort, peace and hope to those who have been uprooted.
Practical Assistance: While refugees are more than people in need, they do face many challenges. They often are in need of help with things like finding affordable housing, finding employment, learning English, navigating social services, understanding the local school system, navigating public transportation, understanding their new culture, etc. While organizations and services such as Wesley’s are in place to assist with these challenges, there are limits to the extent of our involvement. Any community assistance with these practical matters will provide the newcomers with the added support necessary to integrate and become contributing members of our communities.
For information about donating goods to Wesley Click Here.
Speak up on behalf of refugees – challenge myths and prejudice: As a community, we must work diligently to dispel any myths and prejudice against the populations of refugees arriving in Canada. There are many ideas that some people in society believe are true, but that are actually flawed or just plain wrong. These myths and stereotypes can develop into negative behavior that affect immigrants and all people. This prejudice can be stopped if we all work towards stopping the spread of myths and stereotypes. The best thing we can do for these new members of our communities is to educate ourselves about their language, culture, beliefs, and ways of living. As above, if we offer our friendship, we can learn about these things first hand.
Become involved in settlement activities: You can become involved in many ways. You can volunteer your time through Wesley (Volunteer at Wesley), or other organizations that provide services, collect donations of goods, or hold events for this population. Another resource for volunteering is Volunteer Hamilton, or you can research some of the other organizations in your community that have committed to helping new refugees.
Donate to the cause: Individuals, community groups, businesses and organizations can contribute monetarily by raising funds and donating them to funds and programming such as the Wesley Syrian Refugee Fund to help bring families to Hamilton, or to other organizations that are raising funds to prepare to welcome refugees into our communities.