Syrian Refugees in Canada

United Way and supporters welcome refugees United Way and our supporters have a long history of helping newcomers and refugee families settle in the Lower Mainland.  Together we partner with agencies that help refugees find homes, learn a new language and culture, and access education and employment. Syrian Refugees in Canada is a special reporting partnership between United Way of the Lower Mainland and the National Observer. The series follows several Syrian refugees as they journey through their first year in Canada. Behind so many triumphs in these stories are critical refugee settlement services made possible by United Way and our supporters. Below are highlights from three stories. Click here to see all 23 installments in the series.  

Syrian Refugees in Canada


Left to right: Cameray executive director Tracey Rusnak, United Way of Lower Mainland community impact planner Angie Mapara Osachoff, School District 40 associate superintendent Janet Grant, Cameray counsellor Farah Dawood. Photo by Andrew S. Wright

The great professionals in New Westminster helping Syrian refugee kids at school

Jenny Uechi of the National Observer | April 13th, 2017 In New Westminster, the approach from staff and administrators is serving as a model for other communities around the world accepting refugee families. “Every program in the school is working hard to build a feeling of inclusion…so that when a child comes who is dealing with a traumatic situation, they’re coming to a community that is welcoming and accepting,” said Angie Mapara-Osachoff, United Way of Lower Mainland community impact planner. The School District of New Westminster received support from United Way donors through the United for Refugees program.

> Read the full story here


Ali Barsan outside Langley Community Services Society building in November. Photo by Sophie Wright

A Syrian refugee shares the hardest part about living in Canada

Sophie Wright of the National Observer | November 21st, 2016 In April 2016, thanks to donors, partners and volunteers, United Way of the Lower Mainland’s Welcome Lunch for Syrian Refugees helped bring joy to some newcomers’ emotional transitions. United Way support of organizations like MOSAIC, Immigrant Services Society of B.C., SUCCESS and Pacific Immigrant Resources Society help newcomers settle successfully over the long-term. Boarding the plane for Canada from Syria was a heartbreaking moment for Ali Barsan, not knowing when, or if ever, he would see his relatives again. Now in Canada, the unsettling lack of connectivity to his parents and brothers has been a major struggle for Ali. Communication to his family still in Syria is difficult.

> Read the full story here


Left to right: Mental health counsellor Ruth Patta.; Langley refugee settlement worker Mary Tanielian.; Diversecity Arabic interpretor Anas Najim and Diversecity counselling services manager photo by Jenny Uechi

The heroic mental health workers helping Syrian refugees recover from the trauma of war

Jenny Uechi of the National Observer | November 14th, 2016 Despite added governmental investments in mental health supports following the influx of Syrian refugees to Canada, additional resources were required to support Syrian refugees recovering from trauma. United Way and its donors have stepped to get refugees the services they need. Last year, United Way of Lower Mainland invested $158,000 of donor dollars in programs to help refugees overcome trauma, through the Surrey-based DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society and MOSAIC BC. Staff at organizations like these are now at the front lines helping refugees recover from the trauma of war.

> Read the full story here


  To see the entire Syrian Refugees in Canada series, click here.

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