What are the top five things migrants and refugees should do when they reach Canada?

Topics: Migrant and Refugee Services
February 06, 2013

What are the top five things migrants and refugees should do when they reach Canada?

Each year, many migrants and refugees flee from war-torn countries to Canada as a result of emergencies and disasters in their native lands. While migrants and refugees are resilient, resettling in a new country can also be a source of stress.

As part of the world's largest humanitarian network, the Canadian Red Cross offers a range of services that can improve the lives of migrants and refugees. With these five tips that are specifically intended to benefit migrants and refugees, affected persons can ease the strain of relocating and gain the tools needed to build a successful future.

1. Reach out to your local Red Cross. When they first arrive in the country, many refugee claimants have few resources and face several challenges, including financial constraints and language barriers. In Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia, the First Contact program offered by the Canadian Red Cross helps migrants and refugees gain access to referral services through a 24/7 multilingual phone line.

This program, which provides information and referrals to legal aid and social assistance services, helps families to make a positive start.

2. Overcome language barriers. Migrants and refugees may have a limited grasp of English when they first arrive in Canada, while others may only be able to communicate in their native tongue. Enrolling in an English as a Second Language (ESL) course can be an excellent decision for migrants and refugees that can allow them to expand their employment opportunities and ease the process of transition into the country.

3. Reconnect with family. In areas impacted by armed conflict and natural disasters and emergencies, families are often forced to separate. Once migrants and refugees resettle in Canada, the Canadian Red Cross may be able to help them reunite with immediate family members.

If a loved one is missing, the Red Cross may be able to trace his or her whereabouts. If he or she is being detained in a detention facility or has been difficult to reach due to health issues, the Red Cross can obtain a health and welfare report and gain confirmation of detention. In areas where postal service has been interrupted, Red Cross Messages can help families stay in contact and deliver words of support and encouragement.

4. Get first aid training. Injuries can occur at any time and can strike when a person least expects it. For migrants and refugees who are new to the country, don't speak English and may be unfamiliar with certain hazards, the threat of injuries can be even more perilous.

Delivered in over 18 different languages, SmartStart: First Aid Training is available in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Brandon, Manitoba. This program offers education and training to refugees, helping them learn how to use 911 and best respond and cope with emergencies.

5. Gain emergency preparedness skills. During disasters and emergencies, migrants and refugees who don't speak English can be especially vulnerable. Delivered in 14 different languages, SmartStart: Personal Disaster Preparedness is offered in Vancouver and can help migrants and refugees prepare for potential disasters by creating emergency preparedness plans and kits.

With help from the Canadian Red Cross, refugees and migrants are able to gain vital skills and re-establish family links. To show your support for the Red Cross and make a difference in the lives of those in need, please donate online or at a local Red Cross office today!