The Centre for Refugee Studies is very pleased to announce that $1.35 million has been awarded to Prof. Michaela Hynie (Faculty of Health and CRS Executive Committee member) by the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) to study Refugee integration and long-term health outcomes in Canada.
This project, with partners from 3 provinces, including some 2 dozen co-investigators, academic and community-based settlement agencies, will compare how government-assisted refugee (GAR) and private-sponsored refugee (PAR) resettlement programs support long-term social integration pathways for refugees and the impact of these pathways on physical and mental health. Research will take place over a five-year period.
Resettled refugees have poorer health than host populations, and studies show that social integration affects wellness; however, there is a lack of research examining how the experiences of settlement and integration contribute to the long-term health of refugees.
“Canada’s private sponsorship program for resettled refugees is unique in the world, and is of considerable interest to other countries, but its effectiveness relative to government sponsorship is largely unknown,” said Hynie. “This grant is an important opportunity for us to understand how, and under what conditions, the different resettlement programs in Canada support the long-term health and well-being of resettled refugees in Canada, and to gain a deeper understanding of the social determinants of refugee health.”
Message from the Director
With election of Donald Trump as U.S. President and the advent of executive orders that ban nationals from some six Muslim-majority states, no one predicted that asylum seekers would begin walking northward in winter, through farmers fields and hostile terrain, across the U.S.-Canada border, between designated ports of entry. Yet, more than 500 had done so by the first half of 2017. The Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the U.S. means that most asylum seekers (there are some exceptions) may not travel across the shared land border at ports of entry to make a refugee claim in the other country. Both countries are deemed ‘safe’, hence the asylum seeker must make a claim in the first country she arrives in. This agreement is a kind of ‘policy wall’ that benefits Canada more than the U.S. In 2004 when it was first put into effect, one third of asylum seekers to Canada came through the U.S. Now asylum seekers are coming to Canadian borders, entering unlawfully, and then making refugee claims once in custody for their unauthorized crossing.
CRS-affiliated faculty and Osgoode Hall law professor Sean Rehaag led a campaign in 2017 to collect more than 235 other law profs’ signatures on a letter to federal government, asking that the Safe Third Country Agreement be suspended, as per a provision in it. The safety of these asylum seekers and nationals of the six banned countries has been put into question. Canadians, too, with Muslim names have been prevented from entering the country. How the U.S. policy plays out for both refugees and asylum seekers in the longer term remains to be seen.
On a more positive note, Canada has garnered attention and praise for its private refugee sponsorship program, after the settlement of some 40,000 Syrians between November 2015 and January 2017, over 40% of whom came through privately sponsored-channels. In December 2016, CRS was invited to take part in the launch of the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative in Ottawa where Canada showcased its one-of-kind refugee settlement program. Private sponsorship has been in place since 1978, and in 1979-80, more than 60,000 Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians came to Canada, many through private sponsors. New SSHRC funding will advance knowledge of private sponsorship in Canada, its motivations, and outcomes after what appears to be decades of success. More than 200,000 refugees have come to Canada through private sponsorship where groups of citizens provide financial, social, and networking support in year one.
Over the past year, the Refugee Research Network (RRN) used a SSHRC-impact grant to produce four policy-related briefs, presenting them to a group of senior directors and policy analysts in Refugee and Integration Branches of the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Department in Ottawa.
York and Osgoode Hall continue to join forces with Ryerson University’s Lifeline Syria Challenge and support ten teams of campus private sponsors (students, faculty and community members) matched with twelve Syrian families, most of whom have arrived in Canada. CRS will host the Syria Response and Refugee Initiative for another year during 2017-2018, with John Carlaw as our lead staff.
For the first time on record, interest in the CRS summer course exceeded capacity, and people were turned away. In 2018, CRS will celebrate the 25th year of the course’s offering, and promises to be better than ever. See http://crs.yorku.ca/summer/ for details, photos, and deadlines. And check out our updated website too for upcoming seminars, events, and news at http://crs.info.yorku.ca/
Director, Centre for Refugee Studies