Research and Policy Briefs Series:Refugees Discuss their Settlement Experience in New Brunswick

Author: Mikael Hellstrom (MIRRA Network Member)

Introduction

New Brunswick is the only province in Canada with a declining population. The provincial government considers this demographic issue a primary concern  (Government of New Brunswick, 2014) and sees refugee reception as a potential way to break this trend. This ambition prompted the provincial government to welcome almost 1500 Syrian refugees to Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John beginning in 2015 (Government of Canada, 2017).
However, even the largest population centres of New Brunswick would count as third or fourth tier in terms of national immigrant reception, and thus remote in a Canadian perspective, contending with the gravitational pull of cities like Montreal or Toronto.

This policy brief asks: What do refugees feel about the services they have received and whether they intend to stay in the province? How do their responses compare to previous research on retention of immigrants outside major metropolitan areas? The research is part of my postdoctoral research project on refugee settlement in the province of New Brunswick. This policy brief is based on conversations with 40 refugee participants from the cities of Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John in New Brunswick. The participants identified their experiences of skills and qualifications recognition, and English as a Second Language courses (ESL). They also provided suggestions for reforming settlement services and foreign qualifications
recognition and discussed whether they planned to stay in the province. The participants’ accounts provide insights that policy makers should take into account when developing policies
for refugee resettlement in New Brunswick.

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