Frequently Asked Questions

How can I help?

Please refer our refugee response webpage or follow the links below for ways you can contribute, including:


How else can I help?

Individuals across the province are encouraged to help raise awareness, collect donation of funds and goods and to strengthen solidarity in support of the resettlement efforts for Syrian refugees. In addition to the options above, individuals may choose to:

  • Organize a fundraising event or clothing drive to collect funds, clothing and household items from the community;
  • Organize an awareness raising event such as a talk with a local refugee or immigrant;
  • Organize a thematic dinner or documentary night and encourage discussion in your community;
  • Help spread the #RestoreHope campaign online through social media, community news and radio, or in your social circle by wearing one of our pins or putting up a poster in your office or school
  • Help sponsor a refugee family (more information below)
  • Sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to access the latest information.


How can I support refugee resettlement?

Many resettlement agencies will graciously accept donations for the public interested in contributing to refugee resettlement efforts and sponsorship funds. More information on how to donate can be found on our donation information page.

For those interested in private refugee sponsorship, please visit the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada page for more information.

We also created a Private Refugee Sponsorship Registry to facilitate mentoring and support of private sponsor groups across the province. Please contact us should you wish to get in touch with other private refugee sponsors in your area.


Where can I find information on Canada’s response to refugees?

For general information on Canada’s role in assisting refugees, please visit the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Department website.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated his commitment of resettling 25,000 refugees from Syria over and above our current commitments between 5800 and 6500 per year. Of the 25,000 refugees, an estimated 7,000 refugees will be coming through private sponsorship programs, while the remaining number are Government Assisted Refugees. The admitted refugees will largely be from female headed households and young families that pose no security risk.

This response would be the largest refugee resettlement plan since the 1980s South East Asian refugee response. The question is not how many Syrian refugees will be resettled to Canada but when to expect them in our region.

More information will be released over the coming weeks. Please sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information.


What is a government assisted refugee and how much money do they receive?

A Government Assisted Refugee (GAR) is a registered refugee selected from abroad by the Government of Canada for resettlement. GARs hold permanent resident (PR) status upon arrival and receive financial and other support from the Government of Canada for up to one year.

Government Assisted Refugees (GARs), upon their arrival to New Brunswick, receive Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) income benefits under national humanitarian objectives that follow the same rates as provincial income support rates for up to one year or until an individual is able to sustain him or herself, whichever comes first. RAP benefits include monthly contributions towards shelter, transportation and food. In addition, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada provides a one-time start up allowance for such things as clothing, telephone installation, toiletries and other household staples.

The large majority of refugees enter the work force within the first year of their arrival and soon become independent taxpayers and important contributors to our socio-economic development. If you wish to assist in their reentry into the work force by offering employment opportunities and support, please follow this link.


How can I sponsor a refugee?

For general information about sponsoring a refugee see the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada Help Centre.

Thousands of refugees a year are helped by the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. Individuals can form a Group of Five to sponsor refugees from abroad who qualify to come to Canada. As a sponsor, you provide financial and emotional support for the refugees for the duration of the sponsorship. This includes help for housing, clothing and food. Most sponsorships last for one year, but some refugees may be eligible for assistance from their sponsors for up to three years.

Refugees must qualify for entry under Canada’s laws and must pass medical and security checks before they can come to Canada.


How much does it cost to sponsor a refugee?

There are multiple options for sponsoring refugees and costs will vary according to the option best suited for you and your group such as the Group of Fives, Constituent Groups, Community Groups, Blended Visa Office-Referred Program (BVOR). For more information on the various options and associated costs, please visit the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada website.

Although the cost of living varies across the country, the rule of thumb is that sponsors are expected to provide a level of support at least equal to that of the current rates for social assistance in the expected community of settlement. It is suggested to plan for an approximate overall cost of $30,000 for one family.

For more information on social assistance rates, please visit the Government of New Brunswick website on Social Development.


Where do most refugees live after arriving in NB?

Because Government Assisted Refugees arrive in Canada as permanent residents, they are free to settle anywhere in the country regardless of where they were destined. Refugees will first arrive in Toronto and Montreal for initial assessments, and then relocated in cities across the country.

In New Brunswick, Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John are among the designated communities across Canada to lead the resettlement of refugees in the province. Transition and permanent lodging will be assigned across the province in collaboration with multicultural associations and government agencies. If you have affordable housing to offer, please fill our housing information form to help us build our database.

The Government of New Brunswick’s publication (November 2015) “Intake and Resettlement of Syrian Refugees: A Provincial Perspective to Responding” provides more detailed information.


When can we expect the refugees to begin arriving?

The first wave of refugees will start arriving in early December 2015. The federal government is still working on the logistical details of bringing the refugees to Canada. Since they need not only to arrange transport and accommodation, but also extensive health and security screening, they have not yet provided details to us on exact arrival dates in New Brunswick.

However, given the target of completion by the end of February, the first arrivals can reasonably be anticipated to be taking place in the next few weeks and into the early weeks of 2016. Note that the resettlement of refugees will continue throughout 2016 and beyond. Support from the community will be needed for months to come.


What is being done locally?

The member agencies of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council are working in close collaboration with other organizations and service providers across the province. Together, we are recruiting volunteers and assisting in the strategic coordination of resettlement efforts to maximize the reach of our resources and our many strengths.

NBMC is therefore a key player in the provincial coordination of resettlement efforts to ensure the needs of both the refugees and the communities are being met. We are already working closely with the resettlement agencies in all three major cities – Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John – and we are reaching out to the key service providers across the region to map out accommodation, medical services, transport and logistical support.

The NBMC has also put in the place and online platform to help disseminate prevalent information on resettlement efforts and offer a central portal for offers of assistance from generous individuals from across New Brunswick. To find out how you can support local efforts, please contact your local multicultural association.


What is a refugee?

The Geneva Convention definition of a refugee is a person who “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country” Source: “Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees”, Office of UNHCR, August 2007.


What can you tell me about Syrians?

Here are a few quick facts about Syrians (source):

  • There are approximately 41,000 Syrians living in Canada. These communities could be important sources of emotional support for newly arrived refugees.
  • Nearly 50% of refugees are under the age of 25, over a third of refugees are children under the age of 15 years old.
  • Syrians primarily speak Arabic, but other languages such as Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic and Circassian are also spoken. Many young Syrians speak English and/or French. Of the Syrians resettled in Canada in 2014, nearly half spoke one of Canada’s official languages.
  • Syrians have high literacy rates (84% of the population is literate). However, the conflict has disrupted access to school for many children. Efforts to reintegrate children in schools will be a top priority for resettlement agencies.
  • The primary ethnic group in Syria is Arab (90%), other major ethnic groups include Kurds and Armenians.
  • Approximately 56% of Syria’s population resided in urban areas prior to the conflict, particularly in Damascus, Aleppo, Hama, and Homs.
  • The majority religion in Syria is Islam (87%), including 74% who are Sunni Muslim, and 13% who are Alawi, Ismaili and Shia Muslim. Approximately 10% practice Christianity, with individuals identifying as Orthodox, Uniate and Nestorian Christians.  All Muslim and Christian holidays are official holidays in Syria.
  • All refugees must go through a thorough health assessment prior to resettlement. Mental health support for individuals suffering from trauma will be a primary concern for health professionals in Canada.
  • Syrian food consists of a wide range of grains, meat and fruits and vegetables. Common dishes include pita and hummus (chickpea dip), baba ganoush (eggplant spread), mahshe (stuffed grape leaves, zucchini and bell peppers), shawarma (gyro), and salads such as tabouleh and fattoush. Syrian Muslims have dietary restrictions that do not allow them to eat pork; additionally, some will not consume alcohol or eat shellfish

For more information on the conflict in Syria and the humanitarian response in the area, please visit the UN-OCHA website (UN agency for humanitarian response).


Additional Information:

For the latest update on Syrian refugee resettlement efforts, please sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

For statistics and more information on Canada’s recent history in refugee resettlement, please follow this link.

Want more information? Our colleagues at the Saint John Multicultural and Newcomer Resource Centre have put together a comprehensive list of handbooks and guides on refugee sponsorship and more.