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How the YMCA is Supporting Syrian Refugees in our Community

Rob Armstrong Syria’s civil war is the worst humanitarian disaster of our time. After 4 years of civil war almost 12 million Syrians are now homeless. There are 8 million internally displaced people inside Syria and 4 million refugees in neighbouring countries. The Government of Canada has committed to resettle Syrian refugees through the Government Assisted Refugee process. In addition, a number of community groups have stepped forward to privately sponsor refugees.

Ys across the country continue to play an important role in supporting new Syrian families upon their arrival to Canada. We are so pleased to see caring Y members, partners, volunteers, and members of the general public determined to help Syrian refugees settle here and make Canada home. Our team at YMCA Immigrant Settlement Services has been working hard to organize their services in support of the Syrian arrivals and teams across our YMCA have been thinking about how we make other supportive YMCA programs and services available to these new Canadians.

For a Syrian family of eight here in Barrie, the Y has already become a popular destination and resource. The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka has provided a range of supports to help welcome the new family to the area.

Immigrant Settlement Services

The Y’s Immigrant Settlement Services is a first stop for all newcomers to Canada that provides free information and referral services to new Canadians so they are able to settle into a new life in Simcoe/Muskoka. It’s a place where our staff ensure eligible newcomers to Canada receive appropriate English language training and settlement services including assessment of needs, orientation, information and referral, and labour market information in order to feel welcomed in the community and to participate socially, culturally and economically. These services are supported by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Learn more about our Immigrant Settlement Services.

Employment Services

Newcomers are eager to find a way to provide for their families with a new job, or by continuing their previous career. The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka’s Employment Service Centres located in Midland, Huntsville and Parry Sound offer comprehensive employment and training resources and support to help with securing sustainable employment. Our services are open to all and there is no fee to participate. Learn more about Employment Services.

Literacy Services

Literacy Services can help immigrants improve their French and English skills by providing information and referrals for English or French language assessments for government-funded programs. Our services are offered in Midland, Huntsville and Parry Sound, at no cost to eligible clients. Learn more about our YMCA Community Literacy Programs.

Beyond our existing services, we also want to share with you how we’ve further utilized our resources to extend a warm and supportive welcome to these new Canadians.
• YMCA Child Care support for the family’s youngest child
• Free membership at all YMCA Fitness centres across Simcoe/Muskoka
• Through the YMCA network, the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka was able to collect and deliver furniture and household items and    clothes to the family who settled in Barrie
• A YMCA staff member volunteers on a regular basis to provide written and verbal translation for the family so they can take        part in YMCA fitness programs
• The YMCA successfully applied for a grant through IKEA to help the family get household items and furniture
• The YMCA Immigrant Settlement Services staff are ensuring that all of the families needs are being met such as getting OHIP, permanent residence documentation, child tax benefits etc.

Our goal is to make this family and all new families in the area feel welcome. We hope to be part of their Canadian story and a lifelong resource. We are here to provide support not only for the first few months after arrival, but for the duration of the settlement process and beyond for these new Canadians. Welcome To Canada. Welcome home.

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