A new $2-million fund has been set up by the Province in order to help establish services and supports for Afghan refugees resettling in British Columbia.
The Refugee Readiness Fund is a one-time investment that is intended to help B.C. communities be ready to welcome and respond to the needs of refugees from Afghanistan who are resettling in the province.
Canada’s commitment is to resettle 40,000 Afghans to Canada, which means B.C. is preparing to welcome thousands of families and individuals over the coming months and years.
The Province says that the Refugee Readiness Fund will complement services already in place and support community capacity to help welcome Afghan individuals, families and children.
“Our hearts go out to every refugee who has had to flee their home, leaving family members, friends and all their possessions behind,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “The Refugee Readiness Fund recognizes the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and shows that British Columbia is ready to do its part to provide safe, inclusive and welcoming supports for Afghan families.”
The new fund will assist with and enhance community services such as information and education, career guidance, trauma counselling and mental health support.
“As a former refugee, I know investing in our newcomers today means investing in Canada’s future,” said Froozan Jooya, executive director, Beacon for Hope for Afghan Children Society. “When I arrived in Canada as a child, my parents did not have the financial means to support us, but through the short-term assistance of our private sponsor and my family’s hard work, we were able to flourish in our new home. Today, all the members of my family are both educated and productive members of our community.”
Many government-sponsored refugees will settle in Metro Vancouver with others going to communities, such as Victoria and Kelowna, where resettlement supports exist.
All refugees arriving in Canada will also have access to federal settlement services, which include needs assessment and referral, language assessment and training, and financial supports.
The government says that the Refugee Readiness Fund is modelled after a similar program that supported organizations and communities to welcome refugees during Operation in Syria 2015-16 — a time when B.C. welcomed 4,595 refugees.