WelcomeHomeTO has become a go-to partner for groups and agencies. Our partnerships have resulted in a direct impact on the settlement sector
The rapid intake of Syrian newcomers, while the right thing to do, taxed Canada’s settlement system, fraying the nerves of policy makers, settlement workers and engaged citizens alike.
Recognizing that the biggest challenge in the process was a lack of empathy, communication and coordination between policy makers, settlement workers and engaged citizens, WHTO convened a facilitated conversation that addressed the tensions and re-focused on the human experience, good intentions and possible solutions to support successful settlement.
“I thought the system was inevitably going to collapse,” said one participant, “before today. We need to have these opportunities to share and empathize across sectors more often.”
A constant challenge throughout the first thirteen months of Syrian newcomer settlement has been finding enough translators to bridge the gap between refugees and service providers. WHTO flipped this around and asked “how can you match Syrian newcomers with Arab speaking service providers?”
Within our network of partners was iamsick.ca, a digital start-up that helps Canadians access healthcare. One of their service offerings helps Canadians find healthcare practitioners who speak their mother tongue. By encouraging and supporting iamsick.ca to tailor their programming to support Syrian refugees, WHTO helped tackle the language/service barrier and helped a Canadian company build capacity and brand by doing social good. This success story has been picked up by multiple media outlets.
Public interest in Syrian refugees created a uniquely Canadian problem – tons of people wanting to help without knowing where help was needed, or what skill sets were in greatest demand. With the goal of making the best use of what already exists, WHTO supported Volunteer Toronto to create and promote a Syrian refugee-specific volunteer opportunity directory. This helped engaged citizens in Toronto connect with the opportunities they were looking for while also helping settlement agencies and groups find the volunteers they needed to maximize their own impact.
Information Sessions for Engaged Citizens
While the support of and engagement in the settlement process by everyday Canadians has been incredible, it has also been messy. In partnership with the Centre for Social Innovation, WHTO provided regular information sessions that gave engaged citizens space to discuss the issues, share what has and hasn’t been working and separate fact from fiction around how the settlement process works. These conversations have led to new partnerships and resource-sharing opportunities that have connected and empowered civic settlement groups.
Syrian Salad Club
Successful settlement involves an equitable exchange; both new citizens and the existing ones give something and gain something through the new relationship, creating shared value. In partnership with the Centre for Social Innovation and Rola Musafa, a Syrian newcomer, WHTO hosted Syrian Salad Club at CSI’s Regent Park location. Rola was given control of the budget and CSI: Regent Park’s animation team to buy and prepare Syrian food, play Syrian music and share a bit about Syrian culture with CSI members.
Syrian Salad Club not only gave Rola an opportunity to give something back to her new community and celebrate her own heritage, it also gave CSI members a chance to put a human face on Syrian refugees and understand Syria as more than just a conflict zone.
Month 13 Panel Discussion
There are some tough, uncomfortable challenges facing Syrian newcomers approaching Month 13 that reflect on structural challenges of Canada’s settlement system. Our panel chat surfaced some of these problems and other, emerging ones through presentations and a Q&A featuring a private sponsor, a settlement volunteer and a refugee support grassroots group. Our event was covered and broadcast nationally by the CBC.
WHTO has intentionally turned the traditional model of “one client, one offering” on its head, cultivating a reputation as neutral intermediaries in the settlement process. Our mission of fostering the best settlement experience for all has led We have developed and are continuing to build a vast network that reaches into every corner of the settlement sector and beyond. Fostering the best settlement experience for all is our service; and how we measure success.
2016 saw us deliberating Our status as a settlement intermediary allows us ocus is “the best settlement experience for everyone”
Stories of Settlement
In the first wave of Canadian engagement with refugee settlement, the overarching story was framed as “welcome refugees”, creating a popular image of war-ravaged victims being saved by empathetic, engaged Canadians. WHTO felt strongly that it was important to disrupt this story and promote the people behind the crisis and highlight the value they brought to Canada.
The Stories of Settlement photo display presented 3/6 Syrian newcomers as professionals making a new life in the place where they had found refugee, reframing the refugee story for Canadians. This display has been featured at XX events, including the Canadian Arab Institute Awards Gala 2016 and Toronto’s YIMBY festival; it have been viewed by over 1,000 people.
Settlement System Consulting
Due to our status as an impartial intermediary and our focus on informing, empowering and connecting partners within the settlement space, WHTO is a trusted voice for neutral perspectives on what’s happening in or between various segments of the settlement system.
WHTO has developed a strong social media presence that allows us to amplify the successes and requests of our partners in the settlement ecosystem.