The ministers each issued the following statements to recognize World Refugee Day:
“I came to Canada in 1988 as a refugee from Nicaragua and made my home in this beautiful province. Like so many refugees, my family fled a war-torn country in search of a better life. We came in search of a safe and welcoming place to live and we found it in Calgary. We rebuilt our lives, gave back to our community and today I am a proud Albertan, Canadian and cabinet minister. On World Refugee Day, and every day, it’s important to remember who we are, where we came from and what we represent, helping to make Alberta the province it is today.”
“As a former newcomer to this country, I can relate to the experiences, feelings and sense of uncertainty that accompany you in a new culture and country. I believe that a welcoming environment, along with the supports and programs I found in the community, were essential to my journey and success. On World Refugee Day, let’s reaffirm our commitment to ensuring our province and country is a welcoming place for all those who seek sanctuary and a better life. Personally and as minister of Community and Social Services, I’m committed to helping all newcomers transition successfully into Alberta society, so they can realize their dreams and help make Alberta better.”
“All people, no matter where they are from, deserve a safe place to live. Children, women and men fleeing violence and oppression around the world will have a welcoming home in Alberta. New Canadians, including refugees, play a vital role in helping shape our province’s social, economic and cultural life. On World Refugee Day, we recommit to working closely with our federal and municipal partners, as well as local community agencies, to enhance our programs and ensure newcomers have the supports they need to thrive in our province.”
Alberta will continue to welcome refugees with open arms. The Alberta government remains committed to successfully resettling refugees who come to our province. When refugees land in Alberta, they have access to a wide range of services, including employment and training opportunities.
- Between November 2015 and Dec. 31, 2016, Alberta welcomed 7,004 refugees, 4,921 of whom are Syrian.
- Alberta Labour leads the Cross-Ministry Refugee Advisory Group (CMRAG). This group includes Advanced Education, Community and Social Services, Culture and Tourism, Education, Executive Council, Health, Seniors and Housing, and Status of Women.
- CMRAG is responsible for ongoing dialogue, collaboration, planning and sharing of innovative practices among the Government of Alberta program areas that promote the settlement and support of refugees in Alberta.
- Labour launched the Alberta Refugee Resettlement Grant Initiative in March 2016 and provided $1 million in funding to immigrant-serving agencies, ethno-cultural groups, municipalities and other eligible organizations.
- Nine agencies across the province were funded to assist with immediate settlement needs, including drop-in language training classes, coordination with sponsorship groups and mental health resource translation.
- Besides the Alberta Refugee Resettlement Grant Initiative, Alberta Labour has also provided funding to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association to help build welcoming and inclusive communities to enable successful resettlement and integration of newcomers, including refugees, and diverse citizens into Alberta communities.
- Ministry of Community and Social Services staff work with partner agencies to ensure refugees have a smooth and supported transition into the community.
- Most partner agencies provide interpreter services within their own facilities or an Alberta Supports or Works Centre to help refugees with the completion of applications, eligibility assessments and referrals for additional supports.
- Some partnering agencies are contracted to provide language and employment assessments and skills training or refer refugees to those resources.
Community and Social Services takes a holistic approach when working with newcomers, which includes referrals to more than 120 community supports and 34 government supports.