Refugee Student Integration: A Focus on Settlement, Education, and Psychosocial Support

Jan Stewart, Dania El Chaar, Kari McCluskey, Kirby Borgardt


The rapid response to settle Syrian refugees in Canada has had a profound effect on communities, schools, and social service agencies. This article discusses a research program that examined the integration and settlement of Syrian children and youth in Winnipeg and Calgary. Through the examination of the school and community contexts, the research focused on the educational and psychosocial needs of re-settled Syrian refugees and the reciprocal learning between refugee, immigrant and Canadian-born students. With contributions from youth, parents, and relevant stakeholders, the research identified gaps in programming and services as well as promising practices that support newcomers. Issues surrounding trauma, interrupted schooling, separation and loss, racism and discrimination complicated the settlement and integration efforts. Findings indicate that Canadians and Canadian service providers have a major role in supporting the successful integration of refugees. Cultural support workers, cultural brokers, and community liaison personnel are paramount to bridging the school to families and community agencies.

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