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New Canadian Youth Connections

In 2016, 68% of the refugees we served were youth under 18 years of age. While adolescence can be a turbulent time for anyone, refugee youth face a number of challenges that their Canadian peers do not. After arriving in Canada, refugee youth often struggle to learn a new language, navigate a new educational system, make new friends, and balance conflicting cultural expectations. In addition, refugee youth, whose pre-immigration experiences often involve trauma, frequently face many mental health issues – ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to higher levels of depression complicated by the socio-economic and cultural challenges of resettlement.

At Reception House, we provide a number of youth-focused programs and services to make this transition easier, including:

  • Youth Case Management
  • Youth tailored settlement plans
  • Access to sports, leisure and homework help through our New Canadian Youth Connections (NCYC) Program in collaboration with CJI.
  • Assistance with bus tickets when possible
  • Peer Mentors through NCYC Circles Model
  • Field trips and group outings

According to youth who participated in the Government Assisted Refugee (GAR) Youth Project, there are five main challenges facing GAR Youth :

  1. Making New Friends
  2. Learning English
  3. Finding Assistance with Homework Assignments
  4. Language Barriers
  5. Access to Transportation

Based on the above consultations, we have built responsive programming to assist, support and collaborate with partners on eliminating barriers for GAR youth.

Read about NCYC's first ever summer camp
This August, NCYC hosted our first ever summer camp for newly arrived refugee youth to the region. 21 youth came for a week of indoor and outdoor activities, including cooking , employment 101, understanding conflict, dancing and designing vision boards. Our homebase was St. John the Evangelist Church in Downtown Kitchener, but on the last day of camp, we all went on a guided hike in Paris, ON where the youth learned to use a compass, make a fire (with s’mores!), identify Canadian flora and gain greater appreciation for indigenous cultures. It was the first time many of them had hiked in the Canadian wilderness!

The camp lays the foundation for the upcoming NCYC program year that begins this Fall. This summer camp experience introduced the youth to Canadian culture and social concepts in a safe and supportive environment. It also builds confidence, and shared experience with their Canadian born peers as they prepare to enter the Canadian school system.

Learn more about refugee youth experiences in this report prepared by the Centre for Community Based Research: http://www.communitybasedresearch.ca/resources/702/FINAL%20Youth%20Report_March%2031.pdf

Interested in volunteering with refugee youth? Contact volunteer@receptionhouse.ca

Interesting in supporting refugee youth initiatives through program collaboration? Contact lynne@receptionhouse.ca