As we mark World Refugee Day, we recognize the struggles and celebrate the contributions of millions of refugees and the communities that host them. The theme this year is inclusion.
This theme could not be timelier. As public headlines and political discourse are increasingly centered on xenophobia and fear, the contributions and achievements of refugees tend to go overlooked. In a new campaign, UNHCR Canada is drawing attention to facts and statistics showing the achievements of the one million refugees who have arrived in Canada since 1980, many of whom would likely no longer define themselves as refugees but as Canadians.
Canada has a strong tradition of welcoming refugees. Many refugees come fleeing war and persecution with few, if any, financial resources, and have to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture. However, an examination of the results over the past 30 years shows that not only do refugees benefit from safety in Canada, they also embrace the opportunity to build a better life and contribute to the country’s economy.
The campaign highlights key statistics relating to refugee integration in areas such as employment, income, tax contributions, professional achievements, entrepreneurship, and education.
The data shows that refugees positively contribute to the communities in which they settle. While refugees may have entered Canada needing protection, their situation improves over time, allowing them to achieve outcomes similar to other Canadians – like joining the middle class, for example, and starting their own business. It also demonstrates the positive results linked to Canadian policies promoting inclusion and integration of all newcomers.