Refugee agencies in Alberta prepare to welcome 3,000 Syrians

Settlement agencies across the province are getting ready to take in thousands of Syrian refugees who will begin arriving in Canada within days.

Agencies anticipate Alberta’s three largest cities will take in around 3,000 Syrian refugees

Designed for Families

7 years ago
Duration 0:59
Kathryn Friesen with Catholic Social Services gives a tour of one of the specially designed apartments that refugees stay in when they first arrive in Edmonton

Settlement agencies across the province are getting ready to take in thousands of Syrian refugees who will begin arriving in Canada within days.

Based on the number of refugees the cities currently take in, Edmonton will likely receive around 1,500 refugees and Red Deer, around 200, said Kathryn Friesen, program manager for Catholic Social Services which is the lead organization for refugee settlement in Edmonton and Red Deer.

Calgary is projected to take in between 1,200  to 1,300 Syrians, she said.

The Liberal government has said it will honour a campaign commitment to bring in 25,000 refugees by the end of the year, but so far there has been little information about how it will manage the massive resettlement.

"We really do need concrete details," Friesen said. "When are they coming? How many of them are actually coming to Edmonton? And what will it mean for our agency?"

Friesen was part of a conference call Friday morning with the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

On the call, federal officials said that the refugees will begin arriving in Canada in December, but the majority will stay in temporary housing at first, which could include military bases and cruise ships, she said.

She doesn't anticipate the bulk of the refugees to begin arriving in Alberta until late December or early January.

Catholic Social Services typically resettles around 400 refugees each year in Edmonton, and the agency is now trying to figure out how to respond to four times that number all arriving at once.

With so much still unknown, the agency is running different scenarios to help with the planning, but Friesen said housing will be one of the biggest challenges.

The agency has created a webpage to try and catalogue vacant, available housing units in the Edmonton and Red Deer area. 

Friesen is urging residents to go online and fill out a form detailing what they have for rent, and how much they would charge.

The goal is to have all of that information in one place so it is readily available, when the refugees arrive,  Friesen said.


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