Catholic social services ready to welcome Afghan refugees in Red Deer
Those who were able to make it to Canada, however, spent two weeks in quarantine in a Toronto hotel before being resettled across the country.
It was then that resettlement agencies, such as Catholic Social Services (CSS) of Edmonton and Red Deer, were called in to help government-assisted refugees feel at home in their new communities.
CSS Red Deer Director of Immigration and Settlement Services Sharon Yeo says their job is to greet them at the airport and provide them with a temporary place to stay while introducing them to their new community.
“Make sure they have all of their paperwork and documents, which could include social insurance numbers, Alberta health cards, connecting kids to schools, connecting adults to English lessons.” if they need it, make sure they are connected to the local health care system, their local community, whether religious or cultural, ”she explains.
Yeo says they are ready to help any government-assisted refugees in the community, saying they already have interpreters on site who speak Dari and Pashto, Afghanistan’s two official languages.
Yeo says they have also adapted to a virtual format for some aspects of their work, for matters such as assisting a refugee who has not yet completed the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon entering Canada.
“We have to be very careful about all of this, so we have adapted our services to some virtual services provided during this period, and we have improved our ability to do so over the past 18 months.”
Yeo stresses that the resettlement process is not linear and may take some refugees longer than others to settle and no longer need assistance. Barriers such as language, skills and education are often determining factors.
“A lot of our clients are doing a lot of things at the same time. Some take part-time language courses and work at the same time during the day or evening. Colonization is an ongoing process and there are many peaks and valleys in this process.
She says settling in a new community and a new country can be a tough journey, which is why their agency is there to support them every step of the way.
Yeo says they expect Afghan refugees to arrive in Red Deer at some point, but it’s hard to say exactly when.
She says there are many ways the community can help support these newcomers, as well as the refugees from other parts of the world that CSS helps on a daily basis.
For more information, you can go to cssalberta.ca.