Refugee research conducted at U of R

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With a new study on refugee success, and an URSU-sponsored settlement program, U of R is more welcoming than ever. Photo -- Brett Nielsen

With a new study on refugee success, and an URSU-sponsored settlement program, U of R is more welcoming than ever. Photo — Brett Nielsen

Study concerned with success factors for prairie refugees

The University of Regina’s Department of Social Work is currently conducting research into the factors which determine the success of refugees settling on the Canadian prairies. The Carillon spoke with Dr. Daniel Kikulwe, one of the researchers heading up the project.

A successful immigrant himself, the topic has always been of interest to Dr. Kikulwe.

“It is unique to look at the prairies, because immigration has not really been that huge in that part of the country,” he said. “Most times when we hear about immigrants, they are mostly associated with big cities: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal… Most times they settle in urban centres where at least they can have access to their communities, because that really helps them to figure out even the basic things.”

One of the main issues with immigration to places like Saskatchewan, according to Kikulwe, is that “historically, people haven’t stayed for a long time.”

Through his research, Kikulwe hopes to shed light on both the barriers and benefits to immigration on the Canadian prairies.

“There’s a lot of good people and good resources here in Sask and other prairie provinces that are helping people, and we want to capture that. That’s really why there is an interest, and a uniqueness to this research.”

The current research project is partnered with the Regina Open Door Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to settling refugees. The study will be conducted among immigrants who have come to Canada through Open Door, and have been deemed successful at finding good jobs, integrating their children into the education system, and developing their language skills. The researchers will try to determine what factors led to their success, and what issues were faced, so that future refugees can benefit.

“I think it’s a good bit of research,” Kikulwe said, “because it’s going to help other groups that are coming in, as the province continues to grow.”

In addition, Kikulwe noted that the project gives social work students a good chance to work directly with immigrant populations, conducting primary research as part of their education.

Dr. Kikulwe emphasized that research in this area was already underway before the refugee crisis in Syria became a global concern.

“This research has been in the making for quite some time,” he said. “It’s really looking at the cause of resilience among refugees.”

Although it is not informed by the refugee crisis, Kikulwe agreed that the research is timely. The Syrian Civil War has resulted in over four million displaced persons since 2011, with no signs of stopping. Canada has settled almost twelve thousand of those refugees so far, but the Trudeau government has been criticized for failing to meet their campaign promise of settling 25,000 Syrians by Jan. 1, 2016.

Earlier this year, URSU announced that they would sponsor six student refugees through the World University Service of Canada, an organization which settles refugees and provides them with a high level of education to help them succeed. $100,000 was collected through student union fees, and was then matched by the University.

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