This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Adjusting to Life in Canada

"This is not something that is prevalent within this particular group, it is prevalent within all refugee and newcomer populations."
"But because this particular group has come in all at once, then we see a lot more [coming forward, asking for help]."
Huda Bukhari, executive director, Arab Community Centre, Toronto

"It creates a backlash [newfound social freedoms discovered by women refugees on arrival in Canada] on the male partners. They become more aggressive and more defensive and they want to assert dominance more because of the perception that the West, that society will support the female."
Zena Al Hamdan, program manager, Arab Community Centre

"When I came [to Canada from Syria], I was really shy because I was a hijabi and I couldn't do certain things like swimming or other things in my religion I'm not allowed to."
"But my family was really supportive, and the Boys and Girls Club was really supportive, too, and I overcame my shyness and I did what I loved. It's a really free place when you can overcome your shyness."
Hayat Zaid, 14 at 2011 immigration to Canada
One Syrian refugee a week reports being a victim of domestic abuse, according to a Toronto-based organization working with Syrian refugees. Some of the women say the problems began upon arriving in  Canada.
One Syrian refugee a week reports being a victim of domestic abuse, according to a Toronto-based organization working with Syrian refugees. Some of the women say the problems began upon arriving in Canada.  (DANIEL MIHAILESCU / AFP/Getty Images)

In Lebanon, the largest recipient of Syrian refugees thus far, Syrians now make up a quarter of the country’s population. The lack of a formal refugee policy means Syrian refugees are living in abandoned warehouses, under highways, and in mosques and churches. The sheer magnitude of resettlement in Jordan prompted that country’s minister of planning and international cooperation to liken Jordan’s absorption of Syrians to the United States resettling every single Canadian within its borders. (Onishi, 2013) A recent report by Amnesty International speaks of the many Syrian refugees who have become victims of abuse when trying to cross the border into Turkey. Syrians are fired upon, beaten, or mistreated by Turkish border guards. Many of the families inside Turkey are currently living in extreme poverty and only 15% of refugees outside the camps receive any form of aid. (Letsch, 2014)
Aside from the poor living conditions, Syrians in neighboring states are being continually exploited in labor markets. Women and children are frequently exposed to humiliation and sexual abuse. For example, Syrian women working in Turkey report being sexually harassed by their employers. (Stoter, 2014) Some women are entering into unwanted marriages as a means of securing financial security for their families. (Syrian refugee women exploited in Egypt) Young girls are reportedly being forced into prostitution networks and minors being sold off to the highest bidder. (Saleh, 2013)
Canadian Arab Institute
Canada's federal government has set aside $1-billion for its refugee program directly involving Syrians displaced by the sectarian conflict in Syria where Syrian Sunnis have rebelled against the tyranny of the Alawite Shiite regime, with the civil war resulting in the entrance to the bifurcated geography of Islamist jihadists including al-Qaeda and Islamic State militias competing to control areas of the country, leaving Syria with one-third of what its previous territory claimed for the regime. Most of those brought in as refugees do not represent the millions in refugee camps.

They are those Syrians who have been able to pay their way out of Syria and to migrate to cities and towns in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan where they have rented their accommodation; they do not represent the most tragically impacted of the refugees, though to be a refugee under these circumstances of a government committing atrocities against its own civilians is tragic enough. With new immigrants from this Syrian migration discovering the protections proffered by law to women in Canada, what has emerged is some Syrian women refusing any longer to be maltreated through a traditional patriarchal culture where religion dictates the second-class situation of women.

Most of the Canadian funding has been involved with services to ensure that the refugees are well settled in the country. That represents a year's worth of rent, and of welfare-level basic financial support reflecting the numbers in each family, as well as federal immigration staff involved in these cases. Ms. Bukhari of the Arab Community Centre of Toronto, which has first-hand knowledge and interaction with the refugees appeared before a House of Commons committee to ask for funding to address the issue of women leaving abusive familial situations.

The focus of the federal government in its attempts to integrate the plus-25,000 Syrian refugees into the Canadian community has been on the provision of language classes and potential employment, and focusing as well on the needs of a population under the trauma of civil war, having to seek haven abroad for their families' futures. This represents a first-time situation for the country that is based on immigration, with people traditionally over the years arriving in this North American nation from across the international community.

In previous migratory floods from various points of the geographic compass, immigrants have had to fend for themselves. Themselves taking the initiative to find jobs, to learn the language, to integrate into the social culture, to respect authority and new laws, to establish themselves as Canadians to the best of their individual abilities and in the process giving their children opportunities that were denied them elsewhere. These were people from different cultures and traditions whose heritage was far different from that of the Canadian indigenous population.

The difficulty of transitioning from one culture to an entirely different one, one geographic area to another, from one where human rights might not have been as respected as is guaranteed through the Canadian Constitution was accomplished by the sheer will of endurance and survival of people prepared to make the prodigious effort it took. There was then no government effort to aid people, to pay their rent, their food, help them learn the language and find employment. But those earlier immigrants, many of whom also fled conflict and violent oppression, managed to do it on their own.

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