Our Settlement Services are comprised of two dynamic teams – Refugee Resettlement and Family, Children, and Specialized Settlement. Through advocacy, partnership, and empowerment, our settlement teams help immigrant and refugee arrivals with their immediate and most pressing settlement needs, in addition to offering trauma-informed, sensitive care to improve wellness and deepen the connections between mothers, children, families, individuals, and their communities.
This year, our Settlement Services were instrumental in supporting Canada’s efforts to provide safe haven for Afghans and their family members who had to flee conflict in their home country due to their relationships with the Government of Canada. Responding to crises of this kind invariably requires concerted, coordinated, and collaborative efforts throughout ISANS and with many community partners, and this was no exception.
Before and upon the arrival of hundreds of Afghans in Halifax, our Refugee Resettlement team connected with federal and community services, such as Service Canada to help arrivals receive their social insurance numbers, the Refugee Health Clinic for health assessments and critical vaccinations, and the YMCA to help arrivals access educational support for children and youth. The team also connected with a local hotel to provide temporary accommodations for arrivals, and worked with the hotel continuously to ensure everyone’s safety amid health risks posed by the pandemic.
Transitions of this nature are destabilizing and stressful for refugees and, indeed, all immigrants, which is often compounded by structural barriers that prevent them from accessing equitable, culturally appropriate mental health support. While immediate and direct efforts for Afghan arrivals were ongoing, our Family, Children, and Specialized Settlement team worked with IWK’s Shared Care team to improve mental health access for all immigrant families, children, and youth. This collaboration aims to extend the best mental health and addictions support possible to this vulnerable population in familiar settings that are most conducive to their healing.
Whether a refugee, or an individual or family who has elected to begin anew, connection, engagement, and stability are critical for the wellness of immigrants as they adapt to new cultures and ways of living. We’re incredibly gratified that through community collaboration, compassion, and hard work, our Settlement Services this year successfully supported Afghan arrivals and paved the way to ensure their and all immigrant families, children, and youth can more easily access mental health care now and into the future. The best practices we learned from the Afghan response will also continue to support our response to Ukrainian nationals fleeing war and who will settle in our province