In the context of Canadian refugee resettlement, ‘settlement’ refers to the period following the refugee’s arrival in Canada until the person feels that he or she has become fully established and independent in the new society. The settlement experience is subjective and the period of settlement can differ in length for various reasons including the refugee experience, age, language skills, availability of a social support network, etc.
Adjusting to a new life in Canada can be a challenging experience. Private refugee sponsoring groups play a significant support role in the lives of sponsored refugees -providing settlement support is one of their main responsibilities. A detailed settlement plan which is revised together with the newcomer and any co-sponsors forms the basis for a successful settlement experience.
There are various settlement service agencies and ethno-specific community organizations that offer free and confidential services to newcomers in Canada. These can be of great assistance in the settlement process to both the sponsored refugee and the sponsoring group. Support for immediate and long-term settlement needs can be met with the assistance of job search workshops, orientation sessions, language programs and child care, interpretation services, support groups, youth programming, family counselling, mental health support, and other services offered locally. Settlement Counsellors also assist with applications for IFH, SIN, CCB and provincial health care – all of which should be obtained within the first few weeks after arriving in Canada.