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Achieving Holistic Care for Refugees: The Experiences of Educators and Other Stakeholders in Surrey and Greater Vancouver, Canada

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In 2020, the global number of refugees reached record levels, pressuring asylum countries to determine more effective methods for facilitating integration. This article explores an array of stakeholder practices towards refugees in Surrey and Greater Vancouver, Canada. It is based on questionnaires and interviews that elicit the perceptions and struggles of 40 settlement workers, health and mental health professionals, Members of Parliament, educators, librarians, scholars and grassroots organisations, who work with refugees. The findings show that stakeholders often feel isolated, 'working in silos' and wasting time and money due to uncoordinated services and a lack of interagency communication. They feel it is also unreasonable to expect Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs) to learn English and complete job training in preparation for independent living within 1 year of support. Both refugee adults and children suffer from high levels of trauma, often compounded by interrupted or no schooling. Since education is essential to refugee success, I argue that teachers play a role in filling the gap, often uniquely positioned to form ongoing, safe and trusting relationships with refugee students and their families. For many teachers, it is an ethos of care, compassion and social justice acquired in teacher education programmes that increases refugee resilience, sense of belonging and wellbeing. This article identifies what new collaborations between teachers and other stakeholders might accomplish, including communication back to government policymakers. Recommendations encompass initiating online registries of services and low-cost housing in neighbourhoods where community schools and services are interlinked, possibly achieving holistic care for all refugees.
The full text of this paper will be available in November, 2022 due to the embargo policies of British Educational Research Journal. Contact to enquire if the full text of the accepted manuscript can be made available to you.
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