Barriers to Integration

By Halima Abdille

Social Exclusion Among Refugees in Canada

December 2019
Download the report (PDF)

Barriers to Integration explores the socio-economic challenges and barriers that refugees face in integrating into Canadian society.

In this report, Halima Abdille unpacks some of the forms of discrimination faced by refugees and immigrants, particularly when it comes to seeking employment. The report combines historical and quantitative research with a community-based study of the lived experiences of refugees.

Most often, Canadians regard themselves as caring and quite accepting towards “others,” of different races, religions and ethnicities. There is, however, another side of our society, one that is not as good as we would like to think of: an uncaring side of Canadians when it comes to refugees.

Many refugees find themselves in limbo after their arrival in Canada, facing both cultural and socio-economic barriers to fully integrate into the Canadian society.

This research paper investigates the socio-economic factors that hinder refugees from reaching their potential in this country and achieving their dreams: 

  1. Difficulty in attaining work permits
  2. Discrimination in the 900 series of Social Insurance Numbers
  3. Cuts to Legal Aid in Ontario
  4. A lack of education and foreign credential recognition
  5. Underemployment and skill matching
  6. A lack of social capital

1 thought on “Barriers to Integration”

  1. A Prayer for Refugees

    Grant safe passage,
    Lord to those fleeing conflict, warfare and persecution,
    and for whom the perils of an overcrowded boat
    in dangerous waters is a risk worth taking
    compared to the life they have left behind.
    Bring peace, Lord.
    Where there is conflict, sow love.
    Where there is hate, sow compassion.
    Begin within our hearts, that the love we display
    might make a difference in this increasingly fragile world.
    Through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, we pray.

    Dearly beloved,
    Grace be yours and peace.
    “You shall treat the stranger who resides with you as one born
    among you. You shall love that one as yourself.” — Lev. 19: 34
    “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing
    some have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” —
    Heb. 13:2
    For decades, your Christian communities in Canada have responded with deep compassion and
    sponsored thousands of refugees from all corners of the world. Refugee resettlement has been
    your work over many generations. Today, a refugee crisis of immense and unprecedented
    dimension is unfolding. Millions of Syrians have been displaced. We are moved to tears and
    compelled to act.
    As Christians, you are called to put your faith and hope into action and to meet the needs of the
    oppressed and vulnerable by reflecting your own experience of God’s love for us. God’s Word
    directs you into paths of hospitality and invites you to welcome the stranger like us. In God’s Word you
    find the source of your strength and a model for every action you undertake in God’s name.
    We give thanks for the outpouring of love and support already shown by Canadians in the face
    of the Syrian refugee crisis. You are especially grateful for the efforts of the Christian community
    and of all who have turned their hand to the important work of resettling and supporting
    You want to encourage new and continued resettlement efforts. Such efforts require
    commitments that extend over many months and even years. Where communities have the
    resources to sponsor refugees on their own, you offer your encouragement and thanks. Where
    communities have fewer resources, you ask them to invite their neighbours into partnership and
    to work together. To you, as well, we offer our encouragement and thanks.
    While you are welcoming and caring for refugees, you must continue to be mindful of the
    reasons for our flight and the complexity of the conflicts from which we are seeking refuge.
    Military intervention alone will not bring peace. You commit to work with others and invite your communities to contribute to a robust public witness. You continue to call on Canada to
    strengthen its diplomatic efforts to end the terrible conflict, to increase humanitarian
    assistance in the region, to help stop the flow of weapons, and to work to re-establish respect
    for human rights and the rule of law.1
    In the days to come, the Christmas story will begin to be told. Lest we forget, that story includes
    the journey of Jesus, Mary and Joseph into Egypt where they took refuge from those who
    would do them harm. As we recall the journey of the Holy Family, you invite your communities to
    participate in every aspect of refugee resettlement in reflection of their gifts and resources.
    You invite your communities to welcome those who seek to make their home with us even as we
    would welcome Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Matthew 25: 31-46).

    Dear Sir/ Madam,
    I am writing this letter to you in an urgent appeal, with
    tears and sorrow from my heart.
    With due respect, trust and humanity, I appeal to you to
    exercise a
    little patience and read through my letter
    With the most respectfully. I would like to draw your
    attention that I am well-founded fear person, seeking
    ressettlment and protection in your office. Due to
    intolerable persecution of Syrian government I left my
    home country for life safety and protection. I reached
    Jordan on foot in 2013 but not yet been a refugee I am
    much concerned of ressettling by your agency at any
    Thid is Abdulakeem Alrefaee . My UNHCR registration
    is 388-13c65404
    I am a Syrian refugee who has been in Jordan since
    December 2013, with my wife Amani Rasmi Alomar.
    We have three children .
    We are stuck here and our kids’ life is spoiling, whereas
    my youngest kid (Hatem) ؛ one year and a half, has
    lately done an operation of furuncle near the anus.
    Moreover, my wife is suffering from Thyroid illness.
    There is no proper education facilities, the medical
    care is very miserable and the big issue we cannot care is very miserable and the big issue we cannot do
    is getting a job here.
    We are living in this camp where it is very difficult to
    raise three children properly.
    Moreover,I suffered imprisonment and torture by the
    Syrian regime before I left my country.
    I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/ Arabic
    translation and I have worked as a translator and
    My wife has a degree in Arabic Literature
    Reason for seeking resettlment and protection:
    Syrian government has denied human rights in
    Syria. In addition, the government practices racial
    discrimination to the Sunni people. So I could
    not return to my home country. If I go back, the
    government will imprison me for long. Therefore I am
    earnestly requesting for your sympathy and ressettle
    me; it will be a huge favour for me to rescue my life
    from arresting and insecurity.
    I am a family man with a wife and 3 children and living
    under difficult conditions. I’m urge your orgnisation to
    expedite the process of providing the much- needed
    assistance to me and my family.
    My full bio-data
    Name : Abdullhakeem Reafei
    Father’s name: Majed
    Father’s name: Majed Faisal
    Date of birth : 25 .December .1983
    Ethnicity : Sunni
    Relegion : Islam
    Place of birth : Simleen, Dara’a, Syria
    Marital status : Married
    Arrival year to Jordan : 2013
    Numbers: 00962799055476
    E- mail : moc.liamg@654321susselbdogyaM
    ‌I, therfore, pray and hope that if you would be kind
    enough to resettle me as a vulnerable Syrian asylum
    seeker and the most persecuted one, and I will be
    grateful to you forever.
    Thank you for your consideration and I’m looking
    forward to hearing your positive response.
    Sincerely Yours,

    Abdul Hakeem Mjed F. Al-refae


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