Although immigrants and refugees come to Canada for very different reasons, they often face similar injustices.
- An immigrant is a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country—in our case, Canada.
- A refugee, on the other hand, is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.
Regardless of the reason behind coming to Canada, challenges abound: both groups must adapt to new laws, customs, cultures, and often a new language. Since they are not Canadian citizens, they have no political voice or knowledge to negotiate available services. Employment options tend to be limited and credentials are often not recognized. Additionally, racism and discrimination is very real and present in Canada.
Among immigrants and refugees, there are higher rates of poverty than the local population through a lack of access to jobs and adequate or affordable housing.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN exploring this page, take a minute to read this Myth Busting Refugee Factsheet, put together by our friends over at World Renew, the CRC Office of Social Justice and the CR Centre for Public Dialogue.
At DMC, we encourage congregations to think beyond charity to include justice and advocacy as part of their response to injustices faced by newcomers to Canada. Here are some resources diaconates can tap into to help their churches serve refugees better in their community and beyond:
- Journey With Me is a 90-minute workshop that helps congregational members to imagine themselves in a refugee’s or refugee claimant’s shoes and learn about current issues that refugees face, so that they can better love their refugee neighbours. It’s also a toolkit for congregations who want to go deeper with refugees, using everything from Sunday school lessons to recommended films to songs for worship.
- The Refugee subpage at the CRCNA’s Ministry in Canada website has an absolute wealth of information produced and endorsed by the denomination on both refugees and immigrants.
- World Renew helps churches respond through sponsorship and advocacy;
- Centre for Public Dialogue seeks justice for all God’s image-bearers and aims to speak hope into Canadian public dialogue on key issues of justice and reconciliation, including refugees.
- Citizens for Public Justice has comprehensive resources for a Christian response to refugees and newcomers to Canada.
- There are ministries all over Canada that work with and for refugees. Here are just a few, who also happen to be current or former Operation Manna Partners!
- Micah House is a ministry based in Hamilton, ON, and welcomes newly arrived refugee claimants to Hamilton
- Dena Nicolai is the full-time Chaplain and Refugee Support Mobilizer at First CRC of Vancouver. Dena works with CRCs and other congregations throughout BC who are interested in supporting refugees as they transition to life in Canada, primarily through the Immigration Services Society Welcome Centre of BC.
- The Lighthouse in Toronto, ON, is a multi-cultural Christian outreach and community centre, that demonstrates God’s love by offering unconditional hospitality, by sharing our resources and by helping people in need, which includes refugees.
- Stay informed by following the Do Justice Blog, in partnership with the Office of Social Justice and Centre for Public Dialogue. Do Justice is a conversation starter for justice in the Christian Reformed Church.
- For newcomers in Ontario: settlement.org is a guide for their first two weeks in Canada.
- The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) continually hosts up-to-date information and resources on refugee crises all over the world. Click here for some quick facts and figures on refugees.
- The Canadian Council for Refugees, a national non-profit umbrella organization committed to the rights, protection, and settlement of refugees and other vulnerable migrants in Canada and around the world.
- Immigration and Citizenship Canada, an important tool for anyone who plans to visit, study, work or immigrate to Canada or apply for citizenship, a permanent resident card or refugee protection.
- Canadian Immigrant is a website for—you guessed it—Canadian immigrants, by helping them to settle in Canada successfully as they move through their immigrant journey.
Other Online Resources (blogs, vlogs, documentaries, etc.)
- The blog at Refugees International, an independent advocacy organization that challenges governments, policy-makers, and administrations to improve the lives of displaced people worldwide.
- The blog at Women’s Refugee Commission, which focuses on women and young girl refugees.
Books (with amazon.ca links)
- What is the What by Dave Eggers
- Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam
- Refugee Sandwich: Stories of Exile and Asylum by Peter Showler
- They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan by Benjamin Ajak, Benson Deng, Alephonsion Deng, and Judy A. Bernstein
- Seeking Refuge: Central American Migration to Mexico, the United States, and Canada by Maria Cristina Garcia