Community refugee sponsorship and integration in rural Nova Scotia
LE3 .A278 2018
Bachelor of Arts
Canada’s community sponsorship program has a long tradition of refugee resettlement since 1979 when Canadians welcomed thousands of Indochinese “Boat People” refugees. In response to the Syrian initiative, Canadians have once again sponsored refugees in large numbers. In the Annapolis Valley, fourteen refugee sponsorship groups have welcomed seventeen refugee families since August 2015. This major wave of refugee sponsorship in the Annapolis Valley presents an opportunity for a case study of how the community sponsorship model impacts refugee resettlement and integration in rural areas. It draws from twenty-two in-depth interviews with former refugees, sponsors, settlement workers, and Sponsorship Agreement Holder staff involved with refugee sponsorship in rural Nova Scotia. It argues that while there are unique challenges with resettling refugees in rural areas, community sponsorship has a positive impact on integration and allows rural resettlement to be successful with support of governments and settlement services. Sponsors and refugees often develop family-like relationships. Rural sponsors fill in the gaps when services are limited, both general public services like public transportation and specialized settlement services like English as an Additional Language training. The factors that help refugee families stay in rural communities are: building strong relationships with sponsors and the broader community, connecting with other families locally from their ethno-cultural group and finding employment. Finally, this thesis suggests six policy directions to improve rural refugee resettlement: expanding rural immigration hubs, enabling mobile urban services to travel to rural areas, addressing the mismatch between sponsor interest and the opportunity to sponsor, keeping families together and facilitating family reunification, matching families to communities based on community characteristics, and matching refugee skills to locally available employment opportunities.
The author retains copyright in this thesis. Any substantial copying or any other actions that exceed fair dealing or other exceptions in the Copyright Act require the permission of the author.