Refugees in Manitoba: Small Centre Settlement

Primary Author: Meghan Miller Cronkite
Secondary Authors: Eleni Galatsanou, William (Bill) Ashton

  • Presented by the Rural Development Institute (RDI) at The Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration (CIIM) & Immigration Research West (IRW) Regional Symposium: MIGRATION AND REFUGE IN WESTERN CANADA

Roundtable Discussion Summary
October 22, 2016

In the summer of 2016, Brandon University’s Rural Development Institute conducted a study to explore the capacity of 5 rural Manitoba communities to settle immigrants with an emphasis on the capacity to resettle refugees. Through interviews with Service Provider Organizations, Sponsorship groups, and other community stakeholders involved in immigrant settlement and refugee resettlement, a picture emerged of their capacity to meet the needs of refugees. Research participants provided detailed information regarding several aspects of settlement including: employment, health, education, support services. Overall, research participants felt confident that their communities had the capacity to settle refugees despite challenges present. Key successes expressed by participants were the strong partnerships between Service Provider Organizations and Sponsorship Groups and strong volunteer networks. Key challenges mentioned included lack of public transportation, limited interpretation services, and the lack of clear timelines for refugee arrival.

Following dissemination of the study results, a panel and roundtable discussion was facilitated at the CIIM IRW Regional Symposium in October 2016 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The panel included: Bequie Lake of Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations (MANSO); Liz Robinson, Manitoba Education and Training, Manitoba Government; Laurie Sawatzky, Regional Connections Winkler; Lori Wilkinson, Immigration Research West of the University of Manitoba. The co-chairs were Eleni Galatsanou and Bill Ashton from RDI.

Panelists were asked their opinions on how their organizations were addressing the challenges and opportunities for resettling refugees outside of Manitoba’s urban centre, Winnipeg; their impression of rural communities capacity to resettle and retain refugees; what the unique needs of refugees resettling in rural areas are; and from a national perspective, what have been the challenges facing refugee resettlement and how these challenges may be addressed. This report summarizes their responses and highlights of the discussion that took place.