What Do We Know?
- The Government of Canada is working to resettle 40,000 Afghans to Canada through three programs (Information about these programs are now available in Dari and Pashto languages)
- Special immigration program for Afghan nationals (and their families) who assisted the Government of Canada. (18,000 people)
- Pathway to permanent residence for extended family members of former interpreters. (5,000 people)
- Special humanitarian program focused on resettling vulnerable Afghans, including human rights activists, women leaders, journalists, ethnic/religious minorities and LGBTI individuals.
Between August 2021 and June 1, 2022, Canada has resettled 14,645 Afghans under the special immigration programs for Afghans. Regularly updated information on the number of applications received and approved and arrivals can be found on Government of Canada’s webpage.
Hamilton has received 360 Afghan Government Assisted Refugees and 100 Privately Sponsored Refugees as of June 1, 2022. Hamilton has also received a small number of secondary Afghan refugees – those who moved to Hamilton from another city. Most Afghan arrivals in Hamilton have found permanent housing and some have already secured employment.
- As part of addressing the Afghan refugee crisis, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced on August 29, 2021 that certain fees and requirements will be waived for Afghan citizens, permanent residents and temporary residents.
How is Afghan resettlement being supported in Hamilton?
- Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council (HIPC) launched the Hamilton Afghan (Re)settlement Taskforce to provide a coordinated response to the arrival of Afghan newcomers in Hamilton, through regular sharing of information among organizations with a key role to play in the settlement and integration of newcomers. The Taskforce brings together leaders from the City of Hamilton, re/settlement, housing, health and informal sectors to identify the emerging needs and challenges of the incoming Afghan arrivals, and work towards finding solutions.
- Wesley provides primary resettlement support for all government assisted refugees in Hamilton, including temporary accommodation, welcome and orientation, positive integration, and community connections.
- Many other settlement and community services in Hamilton provide supports to immigrants and government assisted refugees and privately sponsored refugees. (Both types of refugees arrive in Canada with permanent resident status). Click here to access a list of local organizations that help newcomers.
- McMaster University has allocated funds to sponsor and support forcibly displaced scholars and students from Ukraine and Afghanistan. Click here to learn more.
How can I sponsor refugees and support family reunification?
In Canada, there are various ways to privately sponsor refugees.
- Learn more about sponsoring refugees on the Government of Canada’s website.
- The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program offers resources and webinars for private sponsors, including Groups of Five, Community Groups and Sponsorship Agreement Holders, on how to privately sponsor refugees.
- You can also connect with local Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) like Diocese of Hamilton Office for Refugees and Anglican Diocese of Niagara or others listed on the government of Canada website to learn more about the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program. (Please note that there are certain criteria for privately sponsoring refugees, and we encourage you to exhaust resources on Government of Canada and Private Sponsorship Training Program websites to learn about sponsorship requirements and process before approaching local SAHs.)
- Lifeline Afghanistan is a non-partisan network of individuals and organizations responding to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Primarily, Lifeline Afghanistan is focused on engaging Canadians in supporting the private sponsorship and in developing innovative strategies to provide social and economic opportunities for Afghan refugees to Canada.
How can I help now?
- Donate to Wesley to support resettlement initiatives for Afghan refugees in Hamilton.
- Volunteer to support area resettlement programs. Volunteer needs and processes are being assessed. Please check back regularly for updated information on this.
- Provide affordable housing. Landlords and property managers who can provide affordable and safe housing for refugees, please contact Wesley at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Be a welcoming and inclusive community member. Arriving in a new community having fled war and crisis can be extremely stressful. Being friendly and welcoming to all goes a long way to making our newest residents feel good as they get to know their new community, make friends and start over in a new country.
Hamilton has experience supporting and welcoming new arrivals in previous influxes of refugees, most recently during the arrival of 40,000 Syrians to Canada in 2015-2016. The Hamilton region was one of the top five destinations in Canada outside of Toronto and Montreal for Syrian refugees, with 1,150 arrivals. In addition, there are 33,145 Afghan immigrants in Ontario, including 950 who call Hamilton home.
How can I stay informed?
- Learn about Canada’s programs for vulnerable Afghans.
- Follow organizations such as Canadian Council for Refugees to keep informed and to see their recommendations for addressing gaps and barriers in the Afghan refugee resettlement program.